Eddie Murphy is one actor who just can’t catch a break anymore. His last decent movie was Nutty Proffesor, but ruined it with a horrible sequel. Life was terrible along with childish kiddie fair Daddy Day Care. Thankfully we have the DVD format which lets us relive his prime, including the Beverly Hills Cop series.
This DVD box set includes all 3 movies in the series (each disc is also available seperately). All are only available only in widescreen, with BHC 1 and 3 being presented in 1.85:1 with the first sequel presented in 2.35:1. Each disc also features Dolby 5.1 sound, the first 2 being remixed, the third used it from the start. Dolby surround tracks are featured on all the discs as well. On to the movies….
Beverly Hills Cop is a classic in the buddy genre, a perfect blend of action and comedy. Eddie Murphy is outstanding as Detroit cop Axl Foley, drawn to Beverly Hills after a murder of his best friend. There he meets up with with two of Beverly Hills best cops, played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. Eddie Murphy is perfect for the role, having a blast BS’ing his way though the town to the source of the crime. Reinhold and Ashton just can’t keep up with Murphy’s tactics and it all blends flawlessly to make this one a true classic. (***** out of *****)
The sequel reunites the cast once again for more laughs, with Eddie just rolling through, making up some of the funniest alter-ego’s ever put on film. The Johnny Wishbone segment and the way he finally gets into the Playboy mansion (with a cameo by Hugh Hefner) are some of the funniest scenes in the entire trilogy. This time their tracking the “Alphabet Bandit,” a group of thugs smuggling weapons. The final shootout is way out there and really stretches believeablility (not to mention the weak editing), but Murphy steals the show yet again and makes this another entertaining ride. (****)
The third and hopefully final film in the series was made 10 years after the original. It’s quite obvious there were no decent idea or writers left to make this one work. Writer Steven De Souza (of Street Fighter “fame”) teams up with director John Landis (Animal House amonst other classics) in what should have been a classic. The comedy here is on par with a childs movie and the loss of John Ashton really hurts this one. The special effects during a rescue sequence are laughably bad (not even on par with 1940′s movies), an absurd weapon which Murphy uses late in the film is a stretch, and the bad guys have worse aim than any enemy in the entire Rambo trilogy. The fake money scheme has much less impact than the rest of the movies and bright, cute colors of the theme park which makes up most of the film is a far cry from the rest of the series. (*)
Each of the prints have been fully restored and logically get better as the movies get younger. III features few problems and only minor specks creep into the print. The bright colors are gorgeous even though they don’t fit into the style of the series. (****)
BHC I and II both suffer from film grain problems, but have few problems otherwise. Spots and specks are more prevalent here than the third entry, but compression issues are thankfully missing. Neither print is really much better than the other, but the sequel is a bit brighter and has slightly stronger colors. (*** for both)
The 5.1 tracks on the first 2 films are pretty much wasted. The soundtrack will occasionaly creep it’s way into the rear speakers, but with all the bullets flying, this should be much more impressive than it is. Given the age and the fact that they both long pre-date the advent of surround sound technology, this is all excusable. Sound is clear without any distortion, but when everything is coming from the center channel, it’s still dissapointing. (*** for both)
The third film, shot in 1994, has the advantage of coming out after 5.1 became a standard. You’ll know it watching this one too. The theme park comes alive with screams and cheers, gunfire usually flies around the viewer, and roller coasters swirl around the sound field. Oddly, the gunfire early on sounds muffled and lacks any impact, but later in the movie things pick up. This is not a perfect track, but a decent showcase for what a home theater can do. (****)
The first film includes the most features of all three of the films. First up is a commentary track by director Martin Best followed by a half hour documentary on the making of the film. It’s labled as cast and crew interviews on the back of the case and that does remain true. There are some great facts about the film amongst alot of behind the scene stills. There is a short look at the casting and even shorter look at how the classic theme song came about. You can also learn about the locations in the film with an interactive map. Standard phot galleries and the trailer have also been included. Great stuff for a 20 year old movie. (****)
The sequel excises the commentary track but brings back the interviews (again around a half hour). Again, more great facts are spewed out by the actors and fans will be pleased. There is a deleted scene presented in full screen, an older (also very short) behind the scenes feature, trailer, and look at the music again. (***)
The third film drops all the features except the interviews. Again, running about a half hour, you’ll learn of all the turns this one took before finally reaching the screen. Probably where it all went wrong. The trailer is also included. The latest movie (in theory) should have the most stuff available, but the first one has much more and that just doesn’t seem right. (**)
This is a great box set. It’s a shame the third movie was made, but you can purchase the discs seperately and pretend it was never made. There is a surprising amount of features, great video, and some decent sound. That’s really all you can ask for from the format. Fans of this classic series will be pleased with this set and it becomes a must own for them.
Originally posted at Breaking Windows.