Updated: Feb 13
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1) The Goonies: Andy (Kerri Green), Brand (Josh Brolin), Mouth (Corey Feldman), Mikey (Sean Astin), Data (Ke Huy-Quan), Chunk (Jeff B. Cohen) and Stef (Martha Plimpton) hide from the Fratelli gang in the basement of an abandoned restaurant. (2) Brand and Mikey don't want to move from their Astoria, Oregon home.
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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 1985; PG for violence and profanity; streaming via Amazon Prime/Video, Apple (4K), FangangoNOW, Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: The 15-plus-year-old commentary with director Richard Donner and his cast
“GOONIES never say die!” — Mikey Walsh
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Warner Brothers brought new life to the likable ‘80s fantasy adventure for an anniversary reboot on 4K Ultra HD. It also showed this summer in drive-ins across America, and in limited open theaters.
The thrill-a-minute movie was the brainchild of producer Steven Spielberg, with an assist from Chris Columbus (“Home Alone,” “Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone”) who wrote the script, and director Richard Donner (“Superman”) helming the action, with its gang of sassy teenage actors. In Spielberg fashion, there are ingredients from his “Indiana Jones” franchise, with tunnels, falling boulders, skeletons, evil villains, and the coolest water chute ride. There are several shout-outs to “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
The tale unfolds in the fictional “Goon Docks” district of Astoria, Oregon, as families battle to save their homes from a soulless golf course development. The Walsh brothers – athletic Brand (Josh Brolin) and his younger brother Mikey (Sean Astin) are counting the hours before their parent's sign over the deed to their home. In the attic, Mikey discoveries an ancient map that could lead to “One-Eyed” Willy's lost pirate treasure – and the possibility of saving the house – with the help of his buddies Data (Ke Huy-Quan) and his gadgets; voracious Chunk (Jeff B. Cohen), and wise-guy Mouth (Corey Feldman), who ciphers the map written in Spanish. The boys head off on their bikes to find the treasure along the stormy Oregon coastline and an abandoned cliffside restaurant, the hideout to the deadly Fratelli gang lead by Mama (Anne Ramsey), and her sons Francis (Joe Pantoliano), Jake (Robert Davi) and loveable, misshapen Sloth (John Matuszak). Brand joins in the action with his wannabe girlfriend Andy (Kerri Green), and her best friend Stef (Martha Plimpton).
“The Goonies” opened June 7, 1985, in 1,705 theaters across the U.S. It finished as the seventh biggest domestic box office film for the year, right after the Oscar-nominated “Witness” starring Harrison Ford. “Back to the Future” (4K release in October), “Beverly Hills Cop” (4K digital), and “Rambo: First Blood Part II” topped the list.
The Fratelli Gang
(1) Jake (Robert Davi) fakes his suicide from his jail cell. (2) Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) waits for Jake's escape from the county jail. (3&4) Francis (Joe Pantoliano) sets a fire barrier.
Real estate developer Elgin Perkins: Is your mommy here? Brand Walsh: No, sir. Actually, she’s out at the market buying Pampers for all us kids.
“Truffle shuffle! The Truffle shuffle!”
The 4K disc is without a single feature, but the enclosed Blu-ray houses carryover extras from previous editions including an original ‘85 featurette with interviews with Spielberg and Donner. Spielberg opens by detailing the characters, “These kids are all kind of like friends. They’re all sort of outcasts…And they get bored one day, and they have the most extraordinary adventure that any adult could possibly imagine.” For Donner filming with his young cast had its challenges. “Individually they’re wonderful; they’re the warmest, craziest little things that have come into my life. But, get them all together and it’s mind-blowing.” At the same time he considered it, “the most gratifying experience… and their energy and excitement is rubbing off on me.” The director also admitted Spielberg was constantly looking over his shoulder, which he considered comforting. “I happened to love it, because he’s the biggest kid of them all, coming up with the best ideas.”
The disc also features the sometimes noisy and enjoyable commentary with Donner and his cast, recorded in 2004 for its 20th Anniversary edition. They cheer when each of their names pop onto the screen during the opening credits. They were quick to mention that during college Jeff Cohen won the election as class president at UC Berkeley. “Go Bears,” he yells. Today, he’s a well-respected attorney in the entertainment industry. They also recall how they were not allowed near Donner’s motor home during filming, which was parked down the street from the house used during the production. “Yeah, no, we were not to even knock on the door,” says Martha Plimpton. And, Josh Brolin recalls a laughing fit he and Sean Astin fell into during their first day of shooting. “It made me feel better because I was nervous that day,” says Astin. Kerri Green chimes in about how they wore the same costumes during the five-month production.
Then the gang yells, “Truffle shuffle! The Truffle shuffle,” when Chunk pulls his shirt off. “I was very embarrassed because, you know, I was a little fat kid shaking my gut,” says Cohen. Donner cleared the set for the shot since the young actor didn’t want anybody around. When he exposed his belly, his recent chickenpox marks were still visible. He developed a case just a few weeks before the cameras started rolling. “I was afraid that you guys would, like fire me, I didn’t tell anybody.” There is more fun and revealing backstories with the Goonies gang.
The disc includes outtakes and a music video from Cindy Lauper singing the theme song, “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough.”
(1) Mrs. Walsh (Mary Ellen Trainor) hires Rosalita (Lupe Ontiveros) to help with the packing for the move. (2) The Goonies discover the treasure map in the attic. (3) Troy (Steve Antin), son of the real estate developer drives his Mustang convertible with Andy and Stef. (4&5) The Goonies carry their bike up the hillside toward the abandoned restaurant.
The jump from the decade-old recycled Blu-ray to the 4K Ultra HD is night and day. First off the 35mm original camera negative (2.35:1 aspect ratio) was scanned and mastered in 4K, extracting an excellent level of sharpness and clarity. Donner and cinematographer Nick McLean, who spent most of his career filming TV series, captured much of the adventure with wide shots, intermixing medium and long lens shots in and around the coastal community of Astoria. The attic and pirate ship were filmed on a Warner soundstage in Burbank. Natural film grain is apparent and more defined, but seems slightly reduced compared to the 4K mastering done by the industries’ best at Sony.
The HDR10 and Dolby Vision (digital) toning has been adjusted to a cooler color palette, matching the Pacific Northwest atmosphere, but turns much warmer once the Goonies use candles and lanterns to light their way underground. The old HD version seems oversaturated and too bright. The black level, especially during the tunnel sequences, are darker, while the highlights in the lanterns are more defined.
Strangely, there are no Dolby Atmos or DTS: X soundtracks for height speakers. The 4K uses the six-channel uncompressed DTS-HD, and the Blu-ray uses Dolby TrueHD. Both are similar in performance and quality. They provide a solid soundstage upfront and in rear speakers, with effects and music cues from Dave Grusin’s score (“The Firm” and “The Milagro Beanfield War”), and Lauper’s theme song.
Overall “Goonies” is a first-rate 4K upgrade. We hope Warner releases Spielberg’s “The Color Purple” on 4K later this year, since it also celebrates its 35th anniversary.
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
(1) The Goonies discover a dead body in a meat locker. (2) And, they find the loveable, misshapen Sloth (John Matuszak). (3) Brand and Mikey find a skeleton that could lead the way out of the tunnel. (4) The Goonies find "One-Eyed" Willy's treasure. (5&6) The Fratelli's continued the pursuit and everyone must abandon ship.
(1) The next morning, the Goonies escape from the underground cave. (2) The authorities and parents find the youth. (3&4) The Fratelli's are captured, but Sloth is heralded as a hero. Chunk says, "You're gonna live with me now. I'm gonna take care of ya. Cause I love ya." Sloth says, "I love you, Chunk."