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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 6/28/02

1994 (1997) - Warner Bros.

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Maverick Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/D

Specs and Features

127 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, cast and crew bios, production notes, film-themed menu screens, scene access (42 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Bad Guy: "I just called you a cheat!"

Maverick: "You also called me… uhh… 'Gutless,' but I figured you were just teasing."

I have to admit that I've never been a big fan of Westerns. All of the 10-gallon hats, beer-filled saloons, cowboys chasing so-called Indians and showdowns at high noon never jangled my spurs. So, I went into Maverick with a bit of apprehension. I'm here to tell you that this isn't your everyday Western. In fact, director Richard Lethal Weapon Donner presents a film that's as much a parody of Westerns as a tribute to the genre.

Expert poker player Bret Maverick (Mel Gibson) is days away from the big poker championship game which, if won, stands to make him half a million dollars (that's lots of dead presidents for the late 19th Century). All he needs is a few thousand more to make the $25,000 entrance fee. During one of Maverick's stops, he meets up with the lovely "Mrs." Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster), and Marshal Zane Cooper (James Garner, who played Maverick on the original TV series from the '50s) - both of whom are on their way to the big game as well. Annabelle is a charming, but feisty, small-time thief who can ante up with the best of them, and Marshal Cooper is a lawman who will be in charge of security for the high-stakes championship. And as any movie fan knows, a great good guy deserves an evil bad guy - Angel (Alfred Molina) is one mean and tough hombre who must stop Maverick from making it to the big game.

As our heroes journey to the poker championship, they meet up with an out-of-control stagecoach, damsels in distress and a tribe of very modern Indians (don't expect Dances with Wolves "Indians" here). During the journey, there's plenty of action and even more laughs that will keep the most avid of Western-haters entertained. The third act of the movie takes place at the poker championship. While intended to be the film's climactic scenes, they never quite equal the downright rambunctious fun of the first two acts. Still, there are several surprises at the end of the movie, and I'll be danged if I tell you what they are.

Not unexpectedly, Maverick is very Lethal Weapon-ish in style and execution. Mel Gibson brings with him all of the goofy playfulness of Martin Riggs, and Richard Donner directs this film with the same wit and keen ability to mix action and comedy as he did with the Weapon saga. Is this bad? Hell no! This is absolutely what makes this film a hit.

The anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation on this DVD is a click or two below the usual high standards of Warner Bros. The overall presentation is a bit on the soft side, with obvious compression artifacting and minor edge enhancement. But the print is clean and the disc sports a good black level. For those who find it acceptable, there is a pan & scan version on the flip side of the disc. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is open and spacious with a nicely recorded score. The narration sometimes sounds a little boxy. This soundtrack is a great example of the abilities of good old Dolby Pro Logic, but I missed the extra dynamics of a 5.1 mix.

The extras on this disc are presented in a "Gallery." When you enter the Gallery section, you'll find options to read cast & crew biographies and some information about the production of the film in different sections such as "Location." This is all text-based, and what it boils down to are the standard cast & crew biographies and production notes, but they're presented in a slightly different way, and there is a bit more information than usual. However, behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes and director's commentaries are more fun, and would have been more than welcome on this disc. Perhaps one day Warner will deal us a better hand and provide us a special edition a la the re-released Lethal Weapon 1-3 and Twister discs.

Maverick is a very entertaining flick, filled with action and laughs. The technical qualities of the DVD are about average and there really aren't any interesting supplements, but a view of the film is well worth your time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take the "Indian Bravery Test"…

Greg Suarez

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