PictureThis comes to us at 1.85:1 using the slightly outdated MPEG-2 codec. Now don't get me wrong I have seen some fine features using high bitrate MPEG-2 but unfortunately this isn't one of them. The film is a little over 20 years old now and whilst this shouldn't really be considered 'old' the film really is showing its age. Grain permeated Commando; it's present more or less in every frame. Some scenes are better that others though, primarily brightly lit outdoor scenes for instance. During some of the darker scenes though the presence of grain becomes a little distracting after a while.
Colours generally are spot on if not a little oversaturated as can be seen from the skin tones, they're just a little too red really. Contrast at times is poor also particularly with sky shots with little definition coming up there at all; some clouds seeming to merge into the background all too often; look at the approach the sea plane makes to the island to see an example of this. On the other hand darker scenes are more than acceptable with shadow detail quite strong and well defined. Arnie holding Sully over the cliff comes out well, the drop Sully faces offering up detail in the cliff face which will make any vertigo sufferer wince a little.
The film itself is generally a little soft, not on all occasions though as I hope some close up shots included here do show. Generally though this softness whilst still offering up a level of detail not yet found on SD versions doesn't quite match the excellent offerings of some more recent BD releases. The 3-D, pop or wow, factor is never really apparent here. Detail though is better, the kitchen at the start, the trees within the mountainous landscape Matrix and his daughter live, the explosions during the destruction of our dictators island all much better than earlier versions.
It's not all bad then but it's not top notch either.
SoundCommando like many of the back catalogue Fox BD releases come with DTS-HD and is a fine enough track for something 20 years old. Originally of course shot for Dolby Stereo this has been tweaked slightly for today's multi channel world. Surrounds kick in at times for helicopter shots and extensive gunfire ringing out here, there and everywhere. In the main though it's the fronts that see most of the action.
Dialogue is crisp and firm, rooted in the centre; it's always apparent what's being spoken no matter the Foley track nor the rip-roaring soundtrack. The score itself, by stalwart James Horner, expands the fontal stage somewhat adding depth to the piece. As mentioned it's a rip-roaring piece and certainly adds to the nature of the film.
As you would expect from most Arnie films, LFE gets a good workout here as well, but in the main it's limited to the final act when Matrix goes ape on the island, blowing up all and sundry no matter if he knows if his daughter is in the building at the time or not. The bass is deep and chest thumping and loud, so bear this in mind whilst playing. Panning at the front is well done with cars, machine gun fire and aircraft all appearing where they should in the frontal stage.
The audio's not going to win any awards but it's not too bad an example of what can be done to a track which wasn't really designed for multi channel.
ExtrasThis is a Fox release and all they have included here for your additional pleasure are a number of trailers. Lets face it I don't think any of us regard these as worthwhile from an extra point of view. As such the score bottoms out completely. I do wish that this studio would get its act together and start releasing some worthwhile material on their features. They did for the splendid Sunshine, why they don't for others is a little of a mystery.
VerdictArnie's back catalogue's back and he means business. Commando is a hoot if you leave your brain at your door; plug that brain in and you'll be wondering why you're wasting too much of your time here. It's Arnie's slip into quip mode with some of his better, or perhaps groaning, quotes coming out here. My favourite is his being air sick on whilst the plane is still on the ground. You'll either love this or hate this, Commando for me takes it a little too far but then if it didn't I suppose it would just be a little too boring.
The video and audio are not up there with the best of the rest but that's not really a surprise for a feature which wasn't one of Arnie's finest; they do their job though, only just. The extras are what we're coming to expect from Fox and hopefully Fox themselves will listen to the myriad of voices pleading with them to include at least something on their new releases, we shall see.
A lot has been mentioned of the continuity, but go with it. More perhaps has been discussed about the cuts in this film. Here we have the feature at 90 minutes so it's better than the earlier BBFC cut 86 minute version, and appears to be the original R rated cut primed for American Theatrical audiences, it's not the widely reported 92 minute director's cut though. Plot holes aside, enjoy this blast from the past as I have done.
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