Under the Goon Docks
Outmoded as The Goonies is, from defunct magazines, bulky TVs resting on floors, and near total lack of technology, its routinely adapted formula refuses to fade. When Sean Astin shouted, “Goonies never die,” no one knew how often licensing companies would endlessly screenprint the phrase on pop culture novelty tees.
It’s old; it certainly feels old. Cyndi Lauper’s perky theme song paired to Steven Spileberg’s kids-in-peril genre oozes ‘80s. Goonies doesn’t relent its relevancy though. In using pirates and pirate treasure as its main hook, the adventure celebrates the purest of movie fantasies. Errol Flynn, only now, it’s an Italian mutant dropped on his head as a child.
Goonies doesn’t relent its relevancy
Goonies doesn’t relent its relevancy
Pushed into theaters at the decade’s center (literally – in June), Goonies asks these kids to grow up. They set out to discover gold not for a thrill, rather to save their middle class town. With hours to go before a smug country club takes land ownership, those riches represent a way to keep their homes. Trickle down economics doesn’t refer to gentrification, yet feels apt – these friends will soon be separated, costing them their childhoods, all so yuppies can play golf. Dollars earn headlines; people become washed away on a near silent trickle of metaphorical water.
The Goonies danger is a facade, thrilling to kids, probably, but carefully avoiding true peril. Chunk, Mouth, Mikey, Data; nothing will happen to them; Goonies isn’t that kind of movie, and bumbling gangsters led by Anne Ramsey have zero chance at success in such a story. Chris Columbus’ scripting style doesn’t allow for it.
Viewing The Goonies now, the aesthetic looks plausible. Not Sloth (John Matuszak) or even the underground Spanish galleon, but the Oregon town. It’s all so… bland. Houses looks dirty, cluttered, and overly lived in. Houses all match like so many post-war pop-up neighborhoods. While the multi-cultural melting pot cast speaks market demographics, it’s also truthful. All of these people, crammed in, trying to make it against a system bearing down on them, and the youngest dealing with those stresses in their own way.
Even as Mikey and crew wind deeper into the town’s caves, they don’t stop. Doubt lingers, but there’s a sense they need to keep going, whether any of this – a treasure map, buried ships – is real. What’s left if they go back? A neighborhood sold to the highest bidder. So no, today’s generation won’t feel the nostalgia or see the appeal in pre-tech life. Helping ease adult burdens and being hero? That never goes out of style.
Warner’s 4K output produced a number of impressive, stable releases. Goonies isn’t one of them. That’s unfortunate. A resolution bump is detectable, in particular during wide shots down suburban streets. Homes, down to individual roof tiles, bring stellar definition into the frame, a clear upgrade over the Blu-ray.
Mid-range is where things turn suspect. A thin, mild grain structure seems unusual, and too-often waxy faces seem to confirm an overdone DNR pass. Goonies isn’t a noise reduced tragedy – detail remains. It’s simply too flat, devoid of texture, lacking the oomph expected from this format’s catalog to date.
Color doesn’t stick out either, flesh tones wandering between pink and dull orange. Deep color doesn’t add much. Vibrant touches (Chunk’s jacket) escape, while the rest dulls. Side-by-side with the Blu-ray, few gains are noted, and if anything, the Blu-ray wins based on better flesh tones alone.
HDR thankfully adds something, giving candle flames, lanterns, and flashlights energy. Peak brightness excels, a consistent performer, much like black levels. While cinematography steers away from using pure black when in caves, depth maintains a presence through superb gradients, and smooth transitions toward or away from the deepest shadows.
Recycling the DTS-HD 5.1 track from the Blu-ray, it’s still a sufficient mix. There’s room for Atmos/DTS:X extensions (waterfalls, cave ambiance), if unlikely to add much. Discrete channels employ each speaker to scurry bats and echoes into each speaker. Stereo touches even split dialog at times. Likely sourced from a 70mm 6-track print, separation sounds organic, not forced.
The low-end slightly veers off course, too obviously accentuated, if adding undeniable rumble as rocks fall or thunder strikes. Added range is appreciated, and appropriate.
Nothing new, and all of this resides on the Blu-ray. A commentary featuring Richard Donner and the Goonies themselves comes via audio, or viewed as picture-in-picture. A vintage making-of is circa 1985, with some behind-the-scenes footage. Deleted scenes run seven minutes, while the Cyndi Lauper music video follows.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Tame but fun, The Goonies doesn’t age despite the obvious ’80s veneer because it’s so cautiously patterned on Hollywood formula.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 56 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: