‘GoldenEra’ is a loving, if muddled, tribute to ‘GoldenEye 007’

by mcdix

GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 is one of those games that will forever be held up as a milestone in art. It wasn’t the first FPS on a console or the first FPS on the Nintendo 64, but it was arguably the best. And the most influential. GoldenEye 007 inspired the development of Half-Life and is said to have led to the creation of the Medal of Honor series. It also holds fond memories for anyone of a certain age who would spend hours bending over someone’s 14-inch bedroom TV to play the local deathmatch.

Drew Rollers GoldenEra tries to encompass everything about the title, from its inception as a small project on Rare’s rural farm campus to the monster it became. Its success and legacy mean it is one of the few titles to deserve a lengthy making-of documentary. In a way, GoldenEye 007’s story mirrors that of Citizen Kane – created by neophytes so unaware of what was to be accomplished they broke new ground in the process. And while many of the team would make some pretty good games, nothing would come close to their debut in impact and acclaim.

GoldenEra has gotten many of the original team on the record, including David Doak, Karl Hilton, Brett Jones, Duncan Botwood, and Steve Ellis. Their testimony is complemented by several journalists and talking heads from across the game industry who help fill the gaps. After all, Rare (then in partnership with Nintendo, now owned by Microsoft) has always been more secretive about what it does than other studios. And so there seem to be missing pieces of testimony that could have painted a richer, fuller picture here.

GoldenEye 007

Our relationship with video games is often much more personal, beyond the usual visual cues from people queuing up to buy the title on release day. And if there’s one problem with the movie, it’s much harder to make the drama compelling since the software design is relatively simple. Not to mention that the impact of a game needs to be measured in different ways than, say, a movie or album. After all, you can recognize the examples of pop phenomena quite clearly as they often soak up the culture around them for weeks or months.

This might be where GoldenEra starts to feel a little flimsy as it tries to cover the breadth of GoldenEye 007’s fallout without much depth. This means the back third will essentially be a series of five-minute segments about Perfect Dark, Free Radical Design and Timesplitters, GoldenEye fan films, the modding community that kept the title alive, and what happened to Rare. There’s even a little detail about the proposed GoldenEye 007 remake and a lot of snark being dished out to the subsequent James Bond games that aren’t all very good overall. But as much as you or I may object to the scattershot approach, it’s a way to sort out all the many varied sides of this story. GoldenEra can rent or buy today on several on-demand platforms, including Google Play, Prime Video, Apple TV, and Sky in the UK. There is no news yet on when the film will be available in the US.

You may also like