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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > Drama > Lethal Weapon 2 (HD-DVD/Theatrical Cut)

Lethal Weapon 2 (HD-DVD)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: C-†††† Film: D



The most commercially successful and most annoying of all the Richard Donner Lethal Weapon films is easily Lethal Weapon 2, the first sequel to the hit action film from 1989.Mel Gibson was back as Martin Riggs and Danny Glover was back as Roger Murtaugh.Unfortunately, they have been joined by the great Joe Pesci in one of his worst performances as Leo Getz, a low-level criminal they just love to dump on.The character was developed later into a more likable character, but was as cardboard flat here as Jeffrey Boamís script based on the remarkably smug and populist Shane Black/Warren Murphy remarkably story.


The plot involves some South African killers unhappy with Murtaughís anti-Apartheid stance and other illegal activities.Since the federal government does not know or does not want to admit (via support of Sun City?) they know what is going wrong, the duo has to take care of things themselves.It is all very Rambo, silly and now remarkably dated, the most dated film in the series.


There is a great TV ad joke that a local critic at the time ruined for my entire hometown in his ad, there is actor Joss Acklund as a Bond-like head villain who loves saying diplomatic immunity and then there is the strange politics of the film where Gibsonís Riggs is concerned.Where the first film dealt with him really being lethal and dealing with Vietnam Syndrome, this sequel (more apparently than ever) just decides he can write off all that pain by falling in love with Patsy Kensitís character and she and sex will heal these deep wounds.Post 9/11, that rings as the hollowest aspect of all four films.The film is also happy with anger and baiting the audience in strange ways to be angrier and even root for more killing.Then it has all kinds of odd comedy that does not always work, made eve odder by Mr. Gibsonís recent public problems.Lethal Weapon 2 is guaranteed not to play back for most viewers who saw it originally the same way ever again for all kinds of reasons.That makes it quite a curio, but for this critic, it was always a bomb.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in real anamorphic Panavision, so this is a real scope image and not cheaper Super 35mm.It looks better by default than the HD-DVD (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Blu-ray of the first film, which were horrible.Not that it is perfect, but at least it is an improvement enough to justify an HD release.Unfortunately, if you look closely, you will notice more than ever that despite being shot in a scope frame, cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt, A.S.C., was shooting the film with VHS pan & scan in mind.Note how the action can be so obviously squared off in various corners.It is annoying the more you notice it.


The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is also a little better than that of the first film in the HD formats, with both films having been blown up to 70mm with 4.1 Dolby Magnetic 6-track sound.There are no split surrounds in either case, but they have been faked in both cases, but the sound is improved here since they knew they had a hit and wanted it to sound better.The music is by the late Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton & David Sanborn, but it is formulaic and typical of the genre.More interesting is the use of several hit songs from the 1950s vocal group The Skyliners, a Pittsburgh Rock-era group.A good source has told us that some of the songs had to come from fresh vinyl copies since the master tapes could not be found by the time the film hit theaters.I still think the DTS on the directorís cut DVD was able to compete with this Dolby Plus mix.


Unlike the DVD directorís cut, there are few extras.You get the extra scenes that were reinserted for the most part in the new cut, the original theatrical trailer and Stunts & Action featurette.Not much for fans, but more than enough for the rest of us.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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