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Beverly Hills Cop
Special Collector's Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: R

Running Time: 105 minutes

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

Screenplay by: Daniel Petrie, Jr.
Story by: Danilo Bach and Daniel Petrie, Jr.

Directed by: Martin Brest

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Martin Brest, Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins, Casting Beverly Hills Cop, Location Map Featurettes, The Music Of Beverly Hills Cop, Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)

Released: January 29th, 2002

 

 

"Don't you think I realize what's going on here, miss? Who do you think I am? Huh? Don't you think I know if I was some hotshot from out of town that pulled some side hair and you made a reservation mistake I'd be the first one to get a room, and I'd be relaxing right now. I'm not a hotshot from out of town. I'm a small reporter from 'Rolling Stone' magazine that's in town to do an exclusive interview with Michael Jackson that's gonna be picked up by every major magazine in the country. I was gonna call the article 'Michael Jackson Is Sitting On Top Of The World' But now I think I might as well just call it 'Michael Jackson Can Sit On Top Of The World Just As Long As He Doesn't Sit In The Beverly Palm Hotel Because There's No N****** Allowed In There.'"

 

When I got my first DVD player all the way back in July 1998, I quickly learned that a lot of the movies I loved were not available on the DVD format. Feeling disappointed, since at the time, movie studios weren't exactly flocking and shoving everything out on the pretty new format, the only thing I could do was wait with much anticipation. While many anticipated titles of beloved movies finally came ("Independence Day," "Men In Black"), a great deal of us are still waiting for others ("Schindler's List," the original "Star Wars Trilogy," "Indiana Jones," etc.). However, when I first got that DVD player, the movie I really, really wanted for my player was "Beverly Hills Cop." Nothing of course came in 1998, nothing was mentioned in 1999, and a rumor or two spread in 2000. Finally, in 2001, more stuff began to go around and toward the end of the year, Paramount finally confirmed what I wanted to hear ever since July 1998: "Beverly Hills Cop" and its sequels would be making its way to DVD in January 2002. What a great way to begin the new year.

"Beverly Hills Cop" is a movie that many remember, but some do forget that it is one of the biggest movies of all time. Grossing well over 200 million, the film was a smash upon its 1984 release with audiences and critics. "Titanic" killed a long standing record the film once had, that staying the number one spot at the box office for an incredible amount of weeks. But what makes "Beverly Hills Cop" what it is? Why is it so enjoyable? Why is it so good and why does it still hold up as one of the greatest action comedies ever? Let us see...

If you're unfamiliar with the plot, the film follows Detroit cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy in one of his best performances) who is hot on the trail of his best friend Mikey's killers. Only knowing the name of a pin named Zack as a lead (insert stupid joke here about my name being "Zach" and a character in the movie who's name is "Zack"), Axel decides to head out to Beverly Hills, California to solve the case and avenge his friend's death. Despite being warned by his boss to not get involved, Axel does get involved anyway. There he meets up with an old friend, an art gallery worker, Jenny, who helps him out. However, Axel may run into trouble with the Los Angeles police when Detective Rosewood (JUDGE REINHOLD!) and Sgt. Taggart (John Ashton) are assigned to keep their eye out on Axel. However, the two get caught up in what's he out for, and it all leads on a trail of laughs, fun and action.

I don't know why I've always had such a soft spot for "Beverly Hills Cop," but it's really one of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe it's because I've lived in Los Angeles for a few years. Maybe it's because it has a great 1980s feel. Maybe it's both of those, but some great comedic writing, great acting, a nice plot and superb directing. Murphy's rants are great, the one liners are great and there are a lot of hilarious moments that still hold up and are still enjoyed (banana in the tailpipe, anyone?). The Oscar® nominated script from Daniel Petrie, Jr. (with a story from him and Danilo Bach) has strong dialogue, well developed characters and keeps up a good cop film with what makes cop films so great: action and insane, sometimes tense, moments.

Martin Brest, directing the first installment, gives the film a sense of depth and reality to it. The editing approach and style to the film is superb as Brest truly captures California and what the story brings. There are a lot of nice shots, and a great pace too. While Brest was criticized for "Meet Joe Black," "Beverly Hills Cop" is a nice reminder how great of a director he really is.

Perhaps why the film succeeds so well is because of Mr. Murphy himself. Eddie Murphy IS "Beverly Hills Cop." Sure, you got the great direction, the smart script, the action, the fine supporting cast and the fun, but his performance as Axel Foley brings the movie to full force and life. Murphy makes it all stand up and truly showing what a great comic talent and actor Murphy was in the 1980s ("Saturday Night Live," "48 Hrs.," "Coming To America"... need I go on?) and still is. Sure, he's had his flops, but Axel Foley is really one of his best performances and makes us remember how talented he is and why we enjoy him so much. Again, the film has all the right elements, but Murphy's key performance carries a great deal of it. From the trademark laugh, his sly attitude and fast talking style, Murphy puts a great deal into the role and continued to in the following two, and arguably weaker, installments. It's a great all around performance, and he's a great comic foil when it comes to Ashton and Reinhold who have great charisma and do great work here, not to mention some fun smaller roles from Bronson Pinchot, Damon Wayans and Paul Reiser.

Another part I love so much about "Beverly Hills Cop" is the music. This is one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time, and the songs here are not only great and catchy, but fit incredibly well within the film itself. Harold Faltermeyer writes a techno-ish, beatin' score that really works well and rocks the house. Truly, "Beverly Hills Cop," like all great movies, hold the test of time and is just as much fun as when I first saw it. A classic.

 

 

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, "Beverly Hills Cop" looks pretty damn good after all these years. It's a bit grainy, but that's the only real major flaw here. It's a pretty good transfer, but the grain is pretty noticeable and the image can be a bit soft at times. It's understood in some ways, considering the film's age. In anycase, there isn't much to complain about. There are some pieces of dirt, nicks and blemishes here and there, and some slight noise now and then, but it's nothing major. The color saturation is quite nice as fleshtones look pretty natural, while detail and black levels are pretty nice. The exterior shots of Beverly Hills look quite nice and illustrious in a sense. There are some minor flaws here, but I'm glad to see the film in widescreen and it does hold up pretty nicely. Some may be slightly disappointed, but it's really nothing too bad.

 

"Beverly Hills Cop" has been remixed into a strong and booming Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. There's a nice balance to this mix as far as sound elements not overlooping or crossing over into another. Everything sounds rather new and fresh, and I'm glad the elements have been kept in decent shape and restored to their fullest. The subwoofer packs rather decent punches, while the soundstage offers nice, loud and broad effects. There are some really nice surround effects in this remix, such as the opening scene, gunshots, Axel going through the glass window and smaller things like crowd noises and sirens. Things get across nicely here to put you in Axel's adventure. The music is also well mixed, bringing great effect to the film and the music really sounds nice. Overall, this is a fine remix. It may not be as sharp and subtle as more recent mixes, but it gets the job done and brings a nice balance to things and works fine with the film. It doesn't overdo it, but it gets the point across. Also included is a French stereo track, an English Dolby Surround track, English closed captions and English subtitles.

 

I was thrilled by having just the film on DVD, but Paramount has gone out of their way to deliver a fine special edition that will please fans of the film. We are treated to an Audio Commentary with Director Martin Brest, who, correct me if I'm wrong, this is his first commentary track. Brest is incredibly enthusiastic, even in awe, and despite some annoying pauses, he does deliver a pretty solid commentary. Brest offers a good deal of praise, but I'm amazed how he remembers so many interesting production stories and tidbits. Despite going back to the past, Brest recalls inspirations, how film equipment has evolved and a good deal more on many aspects of the movie. Worth a listen if you like the film.

Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins has clips from the movie, stills and features new retrospective interviews that are really quite nice and enjoyable to watch. Jerry Bruckheimer recalls that Michael Eisner and the late Don Simpson each had an idea for a Beverly Hills cop movie which is somewhat funny, so they recruited Danilo Bach to write the original screenplay (entitled "Beverly Drive"). After some shuffling, Daniel Petrie, Jr. wrote a new screenplay. Basically, this featurette follows the origins of the project and how a lot shifted... who knew that Sly Stallone would come in and adjust the screenplay and make it cost 6 million more? Who knew that Martin Brest chose to do the project on the flip of a coin? These interviews offer a load of information on making the movie, the casting and a lot of stuff I never knew plus a lot of great stories. This is simply a great look back on making a great movie... this is truly one of the best featurettes made for DVD I've ever seen. The cast and crew really bring a lot here and it seems like quite a fun journey on to making this film. Eddie Murphy is interviewed a little, but there's also Martin Brest, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton and a few more. This lasts a little bit under thirty minutes, and each second is great. I would have liked more Murphy though since this is one of his most notable roles... it seems that his clips were pulled from a Dr. Dolittle 2 featurette on his career I recall seeing on that DVD...

Casting Beverly Hills Cop gives a brief description of what a casting director does and goes from there on casting the film. The film's casting director, Margery Simkin, gives her insight on the process. Brest, Reinhold, Ashton, Reinhold and others talk about creating the characters and how to go about making the characters who they are. Simkin more or less leads the whole thing, and she brings a good deal of information to absorb to the table and shows how important casting can be. Also included are stills and clips from the movie. Another great, worthwhile featurette that lasts a little under ten minutes.

When you had to the Location Map, you can see a mini-map of sorts with key film locations. From there, you can click on seven different short featurettes dealing with the locations: "Beverly Hills Police Station," "Victor Maitland's Mansion," "The Biltmore," "Warehouse," "Art Gallery," "Harrow Club" and "Strip Club." Production designer Angelo P. Garaham gives brief insights on to the locations... these are short, only about a minute each, but they're still nice. They're more or less like the short featurettes on various things on the Forrest Gump DVD.

The Music Of Beverly Hills Cop is another great featurette that is about eight minutes. Featuring interviews with Brest, Bruckheimer, Reinhold, music editor Bob Badami and others, this explores the song choices used in the film and interesting stories behind writing songs and using other ones, not to mention the classic Axel F theme and Harold Faltermeyer's score. I mentioned how I am a giant fan of the film's music (whatever happened to "The System" anyway?), so I was really intrigued by this featurette and I really enjoyed it.

Rounding it all out is a nifty Photo Gallery and the Theatrical Trailer in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The menus also are really nicely designed and thought out, not to mention their creativity in them. These menus could suck and I'd still like them if the score "Axel F" remained in the background.

 

Overall, "Beverly Hills Cop," in this reviewer's opinion, is one of the best films from the 1980s and after all these years, it still holds up. If you've never seen it, you owe yourself to check it out. For everyone else, rejoice! "Beverly Hills Cop" has finally hit DVD with a great 5.1 remix, extras and decent transfer. It's a fantastic trip that's always worth revisiting.