Page 1 of 3
Riggs and Murtaugh blast onto Blu-ray, but is this five-disc set worth the upgrade....?
Warner / 469 Minutes / 1987-1998 / Rated R / Street Date: May 22, 2012
The original Lethal Weapon is the type of Hollywood blockbuster that rarely happens. In fact, it really defies the classification of "summer blockbuster," because while most people seem to think that the film was really a big summer movie, it actually opened in the typically slow month of March. It finally ended up grossing $65 million, which was No. 10 for the year but actually less then films like the Michael J. Fox comedy The Secret of My Success made. That's still a respectable amount, but the film really gained its impressive stature on video and on cable. Strangely for most franchises, it is the lowest grossing film of the entire Lethal Weapon series.
Why did the film become legendary on the small screen instead of theatrically? I think it's because the first film is actually a small movie with restrained action set pieces that works nicely within the confines of the smaller screen. With each new installment, the scope expanded with new characters and bigger action. This is also evident in the photography. The first Lethal Weapon was shot in a 1.85 aspect ratio to accommodate the small, personal nature of the two-man story while the next three entries used the wider Panavision 2.35 ratio for an overall bigger canvas and 'epic" feel.
The pairing of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is the kind of sweet buddy-cop match up that rarely works this well. Gibson's over-the-edge Riggs gives the film its energy while Glover's family man Murtaugh provides a stable center. The pairing gives the film a perfect balance and allows the audience to be comfortable and inviting until it erupts into a high intensity barrage of action in the last half. These are characters that you immediately like and side with; you want them to ultimately befriend each other yet still love every minute of their bickering.
There's a lot to really like in Lethal Weapon 2 and I actually think that, on many levels, the sequel is every bit as good as the first. It's funny and action packed and with an eye towards pleasing fans. Director Richard Donner has fashioned a true continuation of the Lethal Weapon story, not just a rehash, which is always the best way to do a sequel. Yet while Lethal Weapon 2 used the tagline "The Magic Is Back", it is no surprise it wasn't rehashed again for the third installment, which seems to have lost some of that magic. Lethal Weapon 3 is not the best entry in the Lethal Weapon franchise - it's a film that seems to have gotten made as a piece of commerce more than anything else. Everything, except the cast and some of the crew, just feels different here. First and foremost, the cinematography by Jan DeBont goes astray from the look of the first two and editor Stuart Baird has also been replaced by here by Robert Brown and Battle Davis. These replacements change the look and feel of Lethal Weapon 3, and not for the better
By the time we get around to the bloated and tirelessly implausible Lethal Weapon 4, it's patently clear that the franchise has run out of gas, but even if the quartet of movies in The Lethal Weapon Collection aren't razor-cut action masterworks, it's a testament to their big-Hollywood starpower-fueled charisma that they still work pretty damned well. These aren't meticulously-crafted motion pictures - no, the Lethal Weapon flicks thrive on their fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants firebrand with often hilarious and exciting results. After all, there must be some reason they were so popular....