Lethal Weapon 2 (Lethal Weapon Collection) Blu-ray Review
As with the first movie, Lethal Weapon 2 also saw a standalone Blu-ray release in the US, some 6 years ago, and looked just as bad – plagued with the same compression issues that ruined the first film. Of course, the 2010 UK release of the entire collection fixed all this and, once again, we find that this is exactly the same impressive transfer adorning this release. The Region Free US Lethal Weapon Collection offers us Lethal Weapon 2 with a 1080p/VC-1 High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, the first time in the series that the Director had employed this broader scope, and the welcome results can be enjoyed here in all their glory.
Detail is generally very good indeed, a touch better than even the first movie, rendering fine object observation, skin textures and clothing weaves without any issues whatsoever. There’s no excessive DNR tinkering; no unruly edge enhancement, and none of the pasty faces that come with overzealous digital manipulation. Of course, as with Lethal Weapon, the original grain structure is quite dominant, and there is a twinge of softness – all inherent to the stylistic vision – although these too are less noticeable than on with the first film. The colour scheme is rich and broad, vividly rendered, complete with solid and deep black levels that allow for decent night sequences. Again, not quite edging into demo quality territory, this is even closer to that mark, and certainly presents Lethal Weapon 2 as impressively as anybody could have ever wished for.
Similarly, also following on from the Lethal Weapon upgrades, the second movie gets newly remastered audio as well, with a DTS-HD Master Audio track that easily trumps the 2006 lossy mix. Of course this is the same track that the UK has had as part of the Lethal Weapon Collection since 2010, but at least it’s a good one, and also a slight step up from Lethal Weapon’s own treatment. Dialogue is presented clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate. Bigger budget = bigger bangs, and the louder effects come hard and fast this time around, with the LA police precinct and the busy streets still allowing for an engaging atmosphere to be created, and numerous chase sequences, car crashes, screeching sirens, honking horns, and handgun and automatic machinegun fire to thunder across the array, offering up some nice discrete moment and directionality, and further enhanced by some nice LFE treatment. Once again we get the bustle of helicopters overheard – this time twice as many as in the first movie – and the surrounds, and even the rears, get a reasonably good workout. Sure, as with the first movie, it’s still a little dated in terms of sound design (and score) but it’s nonetheless rendered impressively here, and still sounds better than it ever has before.
Each movie in the US Lethal Weapon Collection offers up all of the same extras that came with the respective Director’s Cut DVD releases some time ago (apart from, of course, the Director’s Cut versions of the films themselves), and we also get a fifth disc in the set that offers up 4 newly-commissioned Documentaries (well, at least, newly-commissioned in 2010 and therefore also on the equivalent UK release).
Commentary by Director Richard Donner
Donner returns after his tour of duty chatting his way through the first film, here repeating his style of taking us through the movie in a scene-specific improv’ fashion, which leads to the same unnecessary pauses and pure descriptions. Still, it’s generally a good offering which fans will be happy to sit through.
Here we get just three Deleted Scenes, totalling just four minutes of extra material and basically comprising the footage that was incorporated back into the Director’s Cut for the old DVD release. Unlike Lethal Weapon there’s nothing much more, and since the scenes aren’t all that important (including a bit more about Murtaugh’s wife’s bust-up car, and a little Jacuzzi segment with some half-naked ladies) you can totally understand why they were left on the cutting-room floor. Unfortunately, again unlike for those included in HD on the release of the first movie, these are only presented in SD here.
Stunts & Action is a 4-minute archive Featurette made at the time of production, and certainly showing its age, blending numerous final film clips with far too few interview soundbites and behind-the-scenes snippets.
The disc is rounded off by the movie’s Original 2-minute Theatrical Trailer, presented in SD.
The fifth disc in the Lethal Weapon Collection comes complete with four relatively newly-minted half-hour 1080i High Definition Documentaries commissioned in 2010 and thus already available on the UK release a couple of years back.
Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon starts off the selection, a warm retrospective on the start of the whole franchise – from Shane Black’s fledgling script to the casting and how the leads had such great chemistry, to the 80s studio mentality and the fresh ideas of the action-comedy style. With a great little three-way conversation between Gibson, Glover and Donner at the centre of the piece, as well as interview segments with Shane Black and some of the producers – including Joel Silver – this is a wonderful little piece that offers up some welcome background into the production and how this was the start of something special.
A Family Affair: Bringing Lethal Weapon to Life continues in the same vein, offering yet further insight into the production of the first movie, with many of the same production crew on hand, as well as the cinematographer, designers and the stunt coordination, to look at how their ideas soon shifted from daring action-comedy-thriller to blockbuster franchise in a heartbeat.
Pulling the Trigger: Expanding the World of Lethal Weapon shifts focus to the sequels, looking at how the first movie’s sizeable success guaranteed and almost instant sequel, and how they tied it into the original movie, whilst also making some changes to Shane Black’s script, not just to avoid the death of Riggs, but also to take in some more relevant current affairs – including the South African backdrop. Expanding the story, bringing back the cast and making the action bigger yet still just as potent was all part of the agenda, and this makes for a brilliant look at how they made it happen.
Maximum Impact: The Legacy of Lethal Weaponcloses out this excellent series of Documentaries with a look at how popular the franchise has become, its standout success third and fourth times out, and the filmmakers’ determination to round out the series without resorting to CG – real stunts being a staple of the franchise. Renee Russo’s and Jet Li’s contributions are noted for the third and fourth movies, respectively, and the Documentary closes with a look at the legacy of the Lethal Weapon franchise, and the impact that it had on the future of blockbuster action movies.
Continuing my retrospective on some of Gibson’s landmark movies (which started with his big Box Office hit Ransom and continued with a look at the first Lethal Weapon movie) we now turn to the second chapter in that blockbuster franchise. A personal favourite of both returning director Richard Donner and the lead stars Gibson and Glover, it’s easy to see why Lethal Weapon 2 is so adored, and often compared so favourably to the first film. Perhaps not quite the perfect a confluence of events and ingredients that Lethal Weapon was, the sequel was still excellent, maintaining the winning formula whilst introducing some fresh new elements into the mix which kept the magic alive. It’s one of those rare great sequels.
With the Lethal Weapon Collection finally making its US Blu-ray debut a whole 2 years after it was released in the UK, this Region Free package sports nothing new in comparison to its across-the-pond counterpart. Lethal Weapon 2, however, receives a noteworthy upgrade over its US standalone Blu-ray release back in 2006, sporting not only excellent remastered video and audio, but also a fifth disc in the set complete with all-new (2010-recorded) extras. If you haven’t yet picked it up, then take this as a subtle reminded: after all, no true movie fan’s collection is complete without these great movies.
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