Lethal Weapon Collection Mini Review (UK - BD)
Chris takes a look at the Warner release of the buddy-cop movies on Blu-ray Disc
Yes, it's excuse time again. Unfortunately my complete review copy of the Lethal Weapon Collection didn't arrive until the day of release, so I was left with a bit of a race to get it live in time. As you can see, I failed, so I've decided to run with a cut-down review.
What do you really need me to tell you about the classic buddy-cop movies that you don’t already know? Nothing? Great, that means I can get on with the task of reviewing the set instead! This new release includes all four films in the series, presented in their original theatrical incarnations and completely uncut, which should be welcome news to fans that have previously been lumbered with the butchered versions of the second and fourth films. Donner has stated that the theatrical cuts are his favoured versions of the films, with the ‘director’s cuts’ that surfaced on DVD being little more than studio assembled cuts incorporating material that was (often wisely) deleted. To cut a long story short, don’t feel too ripped off that the set contains the original incarnations of the movies.
I don't own any of the films on DVD and I've only seen screen caps of the early Blu-ray release of the first film, so I don't really have a solid basis for visual comparison. From what I have seen elsewhere the new Lethal Weapon transfer is a cut above the old one, at least in terms of colour rendition and contrast. Judging from screen captures detail looks to be about the same, although the picture is still quite soft for the most part (close-ups are slightly better). There's a healthy dose of grain on display, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary and it looks very film-like. The immediate sequel is basically more of the same, perhaps with slight improvements in clarity, but we’re still dealing with a soft eighties movie rather than an all-new, razor-sharp action picture. Three is also impressive, with a more muted, but slightly more natural colour palette (at least to my eyes). Part four is the pick of the bunch detail-wise, but I did feel that the palette was shifted too far towards red for a lot of the film. (Although this could be intentional). All four transfers are very clean, with no obvious film artefacts or digital manipulation to mar the viewing experience. On the whole the Blu-ray outings of the Lethal Weapon films look very nice indeed.
Oh, a quick note about the aspect ratios. The original film is presented at 1.78:1 and the sequels at 2.35:1, all encoded at 1080/24p utilising the VC-1 codec.
All four films are furnished with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks. The first two are surprisingly front-oriented affairs, although the surrounds are used for atmospheric effects from time to time. Dialogue is generally clear, save for one or two moments where the action buries it in the mix. These moments are fairly infrequent though. Bass is a little anaemic and the top end occasionally sounds a little harsh, but on the whole the films sound pretty good. The third and fourth films fare slightly better, particularly in the bass and surround departments. Part three’s exploding building is a definite step-up from anything in the first two films, and by the time we hit part four’s opening gunfight the sub finally gets to flex its muscles. Part four is also the only film in the set to offer directionality on par with a modern soundtrack—understandable given that it’s the most recent film in the series—and it’s clearly the best of the bunch. It’s unfortunate that my relative inexperience with the films prevents me from comparing the BDs to the DVDs, but these are reasonably solid tracks so I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed.
All four features include supplements ported over from the various standard-definition releases, including audio commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, music videos, trailers and outtakes. In addition to the extras found on the individual discs Warner has assembled a decent collection of new high-definition features for the fifth disc in the set. There's a retrospective documentary in the shape of Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon, which features 2010 interview footage with Donner, Gibson and Glover. A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life deals more with the extended creative team responsible for the movies (including Shane Black, stunt co-ordinator Mic Rodgers and cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt), while Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon focusses on the three sequels and again features new interviews with the cast and crew. Bringing up the rear is Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weapon, which looks at the lasting impact the films have had on the action genre. The new docs are very entertaining and the when combined with the legacy material make for a pretty decent set of extras.
I enjoyed revisiting the Lethal Weapon films on Blu-ray. It's been a long time since I've seen them, and while the quality of the series dipped by the time it reached its fourth instalment I still really like the first three movies. Thankfully the quality of the Blu-ray set is more consistent than Mel Gibson's accent and should definitely please those upgrading from the older DVDs, both visually and aurally. If you're after a superior slice of eighties/nineties action-comedy you could do a lot worse than to pick this set up.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 15th November 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Castilian Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 German, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Polish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Russian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Thai
Subtitles: Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Castilian Spanish, Complex Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Latin Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Interviews, Trailers, Music Videos
Easter Egg: No
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Rene Russo, Joe Pesci
Genre: Action and Comedy
Length: 468 minutes
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