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Mel Gibson was the perfect choice to portray that western gambler and "hero", Brett Maverick, when they decided to turn the old MAVERICK television series into a movie. The film version of MAVERICK ($25) does have a lot of charm and good humor, like the series that inspired it, but this film takes a bit too long to get where it is going. Actually, the first hour of MAVERICK is the problem. Director Richard Donner lets the first half meander, when a brisker pace would have been better suited to this comedy. At least, the second half of the film makes up for the slowness of the first.

The plot concerns Maverick’s attempts to collect old debts, and raise the remaining $3,000.00 he needs to enter a high stakes poker tournament. Actually, the tournament itself is the jewel of the film, since that sequence is filled with numerous western and country music stars playing the various gamblers. Jodie Foster is the shady lady gambler with whom Maverick crosses paths, and inadvertently becomes his traveling companion for the film. With a nod to the MAVERICK television series, James Garner (the original Brett Maverick) is cast as the lawman responsible for the security of the gambling tournament. Garner manages to get the majority of the film’s laughs, proving he hasn’t lost his knack for this type of light comedy. The cast of MAVERICK also features James Coburn, Graham Greene, Alfred Molina, Dan Hedaya, Denver Pyle, Clint Black, Waylon Jennings and Doug McClure.

Warner Home Video offers MAVERICK in both Letterboxed and pan and scan versions on this DVD release. MAVERICK was produced with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, so the Letterboxed version will be preferable to most viewers. The pan and scan transfer is acceptable, if one doesn’t mind half the image being cropped away. The image is a little soft and slightly grainy, but the colors do appear good. The Letterboxed transfer is drop dead gorgeous thanks to Vilmos Zsigmond’s impeccable cinematography. MAVERICK is certainly one of the most beautifully lit and shot westerns that I can remember. The transfer offers a crisp, well-defined image and the colors are richly saturated.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack offers only two-channel stereo, so it is best to decode the matrixed Dolby Surround. The Dolby Surround soundtrack offers a pleasing mix, which is heavier on atmosphere than it is on directional effects. Other soundtrack options include a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menu offers access to production notes, as well as cast and crew biographies/filmographies.




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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