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On LETHAL WEAPON 2 ($25) Richard Donner is less a director than he is a traffic cop. This fast moving and frenetic film jumps from car chase to action sequence and back. Donner has a predilection for hiring the best actors, cinematographers, stunt coordinators and special effects people, then turning them loose. Because of this, his films lack a truly cohesive style. This isn’t really a bad thing since Donner has been associated with some very memorable films like SUPERMAN and THE OMEN. Still in all, LETHAL WEAPON 2 is the kind of film that is certain to give action fans a charge. LETHAL WEAPON 2 re-teams Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as the slightly demented cop Martin Riggs and his family man partner Roger Murtaugh (who hopes to live to see retirement). In this second installment, Riggs and Murtaugh end up on the tail of a South African drug cartel, who just happen to have diplomatic immunity. They also find themselves sidetracked with the job of protecting a federal witness. Joe Pesci is their charge, and his performance sets new records for the most annoying character in a film. The cast of LETHAL WEAPON 2 also features Joss Ackland, Derrick O’Connor and Patsy Kensit.

Warner Home Video has issued LETHAL WEAPON 2 on DVD in both Letterboxed and pan and scan editions. The pan and scan edition leaves a lot to be desired since LETHAL WEAPON 2 is an anamorphic wide screen movie. The action is dizzying enough without the unnatural pans added by the pan and scan process. Cropping the image also makes the action hard to follow, since you can’t tell what is supposed to be happening on the other side of the screen. The pan and scan transfer looks relatively good. The image isn’t as sharp as the Letterboxed version, but it is acceptable. Colors are fairly pleasing on the pan and scan transfer. Digital artifacts were noticeable in a couple of places. I have to tell you, I received something of a scare when I popped the Letterboxed side of LETHAL WEAPON 2 into the player and it started up with the dreaded "This film has been modified from its original version" message. Fortunately, the Letterboxed transfer starts up right after the erroneous message. The Letterboxed transfer restores most of the film’s proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio, although I couldn’t detect anything being cropped out of the image. The transfer has good detail, even through some of the more difficult low light scenes. Colors appeared fresh and natural. Digital artifacts weren’t noticeable, even in the dark sequences where they usually rear their ugly heads.

Warner Home Video has given LETHAL WEAPON 2 a fresh Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and while not as good as today’s best discrete channel mixes, I was quite impressed with the upgrade. The new mix packed quite a wallop, and is certain to give your system quite a workout. The explosions and automatic weapon’s fire pounds through with great clarity. The track has some great direction effects in the front channels, and the film’s music also greatly benefits from the new mix. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround mix, as well as a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus give one access to a "making of" stunt feature and theatrical trailer. There are also cast and crew biographies, filmographies, and production notes contained in the interactive menus.

LETHAL WEAPON 2 is a great little DVD that offers a lot of bang for the buck.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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