Lethal Weapon 2
Warner Bros. // R // $28.99 // September 26, 2006
Review by Joshua Zyber | posted October 6, 2006
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
The Movie:
Lethal Weapon 2 is that rare sequel just as entertaining as the original, primarily because all the key elements that worked the first time around have fallen right back into place. Gibson and Glover return with their humorous salt-and-pepper chemistry and banter intact. Richard Donner stays in the director's chair, as he will for the entire series. The dialogue is light and breezy, the action scenes exciting, and the plot ridiculous enough to keep you grinning yet not dumb enough to lapse into parody of itself (as happened in the later sequels).

With four movies in the franchise so far, all working from the same basic formula, it's easy to get the plots confused. This is the one that pits Riggs and Murtaugh against evil South Africans involved in some sort of money laundering scheme. Produced just before the collapse of Apartheid, involving such a hot-button topic was seen as daring at the time, even though the script by Jeffrey Boam really just sets the Afrikaners up as your typical cartoon villains. Apparently, Nazis must have been passé by 1989. Introduced this entry is Joe Pesci as the fast-talking mob informant the boys have to protect, and who winds up tagging along on their escapades. Pesci's "Okay okay okay…" schtick is still pretty fresh and amusing this time out, before it wore so thin in the next two movies. Also making an appearance is Patsy Kensit as a love interest for Riggs.

Part 2 puts more emphasis on jokes and humor than the first film, but maintains a better balance than the following couple of sequels. The exploding toilet gag is perhaps a bit much, and some of the action set-pieces (like Riggs starting a fistfight on top of a moving tow truck) are kind of silly, but when the plot kicks into gear it goes to some unexpectedly dark places and builds to a very satisfying, take-no-prisoners climax. Oh, and Gibson's mullet has been noticeably tamed since the last movie.

Sure, if you want to over-analyze it, like most sequels Lethal Weapon 2 is really just more of the same thing we got the first time around. Fortunately, the recipe hasn't gone stale yet at this point. Fans of the original are sure to enjoy this follow-up every bit as much.

The Blu-ray Disc:
Lethal Weapon 2 debuts on the Blu-ray format courtesy of Warner Home Video. The studio previously released the film on HD DVD in September of this year. Both editions contain only the original 1989 theatrical cut of the film, not the longer Director's Cut that Richard Donner assembled in 2000.

Blu-ray discs are only playable in a compatible Blu-ray player. They will not function in a standard DVD player or in an HD DVD player. Please note that the star rating scales for video and audio are relative to other High Definition disc content, not to traditional DVD.

Video:
The Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray is encoded in High Definition 1080p format using VC-1 compression on a single-layer 25 gb disc. The movie is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 with letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the 16:9 frame. In some sequences, especially the beginning, the picture geometry looks slightly squeezed in the vertical direction, but it's not enough to be overly distracting. I'm not sure whether that's a video transfer flaw or an artifact of the original photography. The image is also not properly centered in the frame, sitting just a tiny bit low, which I doubt many viewers will notice.

The sequel has slicker photography and production values than the original Lethal Weapon, and that shows through in the video transfer. The picture is sharper, less grainy, and has bolder colors. Contrasts are also better balanced, with brighter whites, deeper blacks, and clearer shadow detail. On the down side, the same minor presence of edge enhancement ringing that affected the prior film is also apparent here, and fine object detail occasionally looks a little dupey. The disc looks good overall, though, and the HD image is a clear upgrade over standard DVD.

Like the HD DVD before it, Warner authored this Blu-ray disc from an older HD master originally transferred in 1080i format and only recently deinterlaced to 1080p in the studio. Unfortunately, at the time the master was struck, heavy vertical domain filtering was applied to reduce the appearance of aliasing and interlace artifacts on 1080i TVs. The process has the side effects of losing vertical resolution detail and introducing jagged artifacts and shimmer in diagonal lines when reassembled to 1080p or other progressive resolutions. This is evident in several places throughout the movie, probably easiest seen during the end credits. The transfer is still better than standard DVD, but not nearly as good as the best that High Definition can deliver.

The Lethal Weapon 2 Blu-ray disc is not flagged with an Image Constraint Token and will play in full High Definition quality over a Blu-ray player's analog Component Video outputs.

Audio:
The movie's soundtrack is provided in standard Dolby Digital 5.1 at a high 640 kb/s bit rate that should be the equal of the HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus track.

The soundtrack has also been enhanced over the first Lethal Weapon. It's louder and more aggressive, with actual directional split surround use. Bass activity is still moderate but modestly improved. Fidelity as a whole is also more consistent. Dialogue is always clear. Gunshots and explosions are convincing. The mix probably won't blow anyone away in comparison to a modern big-budget action movie soundtrack, but gets the job done fine.

Subs & Dubs:
Optional subtitles – English, English captions for the hearing impaired, French, or Spanish.
Alternate language tracks - French DD 2.0.

Extras:
All of the bonus features on this Blu-ray title are recycled from the DVD edition and are presented in Standard Definition video with MPEG2 compression.

  • Deleted Scenes (4 min.) – Approximately 4 brief scenes (they're not edited with clear beginnings or endings) previously integrated into the film for the Director's Cut have been presented here separately in Standard-Def anamorphic widescreen. Most of this footage is totally superfluous, and the movie's better off without it.
  • Stunts and Action (4 min.) – A vintage behind-the-scenes EPK clip with very cheesy voiceover narration.
  • Theatrical Trailer
Missing from the DVD are some text cast & crew bios. They aren't a significant loss.

Final Thoughts:
Anyone who liked Lethal Weapon will find this sequel just as funny and action-packed. The Blu-ray quality is a marginal improvement over the first film, though still flawed. Nonetheless, it merits a recommendation.

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