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Beverly Hills Cop
Release Date(s)1984 (May 17, 2011)
One of the all-time 80’s comedy classics, Beverly Hills Cop was also the biggest money-maker at the box office in 1984. A rising Hollywood star, a fun comedic story, a great supporting cast and a hit soundtrack all came together in this prototypical 80’s blockbuster.
The journey to get Beverly Hills Cop made in the first place is just as interesting as the movie itself. The script languished in development for nearly six years before Martin Brest finally attached himself to the project as director. At one point, Mickey Rourke was up for the part of Axel, as was Sylvester Stallone. Before pre-production could begin, Rourke dropped out and Sylvester Stallone signed on with the intention of making the movie a much more hard-edged piece (eventually using the unused material in Cobra three years later). Due to creative differences, Stallone left the project, and in an inspired bit of casting, up-and-comer Eddie Murphy was handpicked for the role by the film’s producers. Once he was hired, the film’s tone changed from a gritty revenge tale into a more comedic/dramatic romp. The film may be severely dated, but I still love it. It was a big part of my childhood and it’s just as laugh-out-loud funny today as it was in 1984.
Paramount’s Blu-ray debut of Beverly Hills Cop is a pleasant one without exactly being perfect. The video quality on display is only marginally better than its DVD counterpart. Taken from what looks like an extremely clean print of the movie, the presentation carries a heavy amount of grain that lays on as a thick film-like texture. There also seems to be some edge enhancement at play, as well as possible DNR. I’m not positive on that last one, but some of the scenes in the police station had my digital tinkering alarms going off. Fortunately the colors are very vibrant and pleasing, and flesh tones look very natural. It seems that the brightest scenes benefit most from the higher quality, but the darker the scene, the more noise you’re going to see. During the scene when Axel first notices that his apartment door is open, the darkest areas in the frame look almost snowy. So it isn’t the absolute cleanest of transfers, but that’s not to say it’s a total waste of time either. It’s still a good-looking picture, but don’t expect an extremely fine level of detail in every single frame. The audio portion is not quite as good as it could be either. The music and score really leap out of the speakers and have a lot of dynamic range, but the dialogue and sound effects are a bit weak. Quiet at times and sounding on the thin side, it’s not the overall good mix that I was hoping it would be. Everything works ok, but you may have to adjust the volume a bit in order to get the right effect. Your options are English 5.1 DTS-HD, French 2.0, Spanish 5.1, and Portuguese 5.1 (the latter 3 all being Dolby Digital tracks). The subtitle options include English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The extras that have been included are the same as the DVD release, so no new content or loss of old content (a double-edged sword). You get the audio commentary with Martin Brest and three featurettes including: Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins, A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process and The Music of Beverly Hills Cop. Also carried over is the interactive Location Map, which allows you to select areas seen in the film and hear about the shooting locations from production designer Angelo P. Graham. Ending the extras is the film’s theatrical trailer. Of course, these hardly seem like satisfactory extras for an upgrade, but they do feature nearly all of the main cast and several of the filmmakers involved in the making of the movie (even Eddie, himself). Being that this was a relatively problem-free shoot where everybody got along well, I suppose there aren’t that many stories that can be told. However, some music videos, TV spots, trailers for the other movies in the series, and other little tidbits could have been included to freshen things up a bit.
On the one hand, it’s nice to see Beverly Hills Cop get an upgrade to high definition. It’s also nice to see the previous extras retained as it could have easily been a bare bones release, but for owners of the previous DVD release, you’re going to have to think long and hard about picking this one up. Even with the relatively cheap price tag, you’re essentially getting an only marginally better-looking presentation. However, if you don’t have a copy of this movie in your collection at all, it’s definitely worth your money. The bottom line is that Beverly Hills Cop is a classic, and everyone should have a copy in their movie library, regardless of the format.
- Tim Salmons