Plot: What’s it about?
When Beverly Hills Cop came out in the mid 1980’s, the country (and the world for that matter) was a different place. Caught up in the greed of th era, movies like this exploded onto the scene. Eddie Murphy, at the time, was a rising star but had already established himself in movies like Trading Places and 48 Hours. In addition to his work on Saturday Night Live, Murphy was interestingly not the first choice for this movie. True. It was supposed to be a Sylvester Stallone movie and as one can imagine, most of the humor wouldn’t have worked. A majority of the film that was to star Stallone was re-incorporated into his movie a few years later by the name of Cobra (and that was no Beverly Hills Cop). The story seemed to click and people “got” the movie and it went on to become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time (it’s still in the top 20) and naturally vaulted Eddie Murphy to superstar status. Featuring an ensemble cast with Judge Reinhold, Ronny Cox and Bronson Pinchot (who plays easily the funniest character in the movie), Beverly Hills Cop seemed to have all the right ingredients to start a new genre of movie…the action/comedy!
Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a renegade Detroit cop. He doesn’t exactly play by the rules and means well, but always seems to mess up at the wrong time. His boss, Inspector Todd (Gilbert Hill) is sick and tired of his antics and after his latest blunder (which takes place during the opening credits), sends Foley on a forced vacation. Getting a surprise visit from his old friend, Mikey Tandino (James Russo) and then witnessing his death, Foley heads out to Los Angeles (Beverly Hills actually) to investigate the murder. It’s the unlikely pairing of Murphy, a wild cop, with the straight-laced policemen of Beverly Hills that make the movie work. Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggert (John Ashton) are the perfect compliment to Murphy as they reluctantly work together to try and solve the murder and not get killed in the process.
As Bruckheimer is still doing today, he and then partner Don Simpson (who is now deceased) produced the movie and it’s clear that the success of this movie helped pave the way for their future collaborations including Top Gun, Crimson Tide and Armageddon to name but a few. Beverly Hills Cop inspired two sequels, the third of which is kind of like the recent Crocodile Dundee (the “what were they thinking” sequel), but the second delivers more of what we liked. The soundtrack is another great thing about the movie, featuing the signature instrumental piece “Axel F”. Add all of this up, including the few scnes in which Pinchot’s “Serge” is on screen and you have a very enjoyable movie. Beverly Hills Cop is simply one of those movies which belongs in your collection and Paramount has done it some justice with their new DVD release. An easy recommendation here folks. The heat is on…
Video: How does it look?
Unlike Part II of the series, Beverly Hills Cop is shown in a 1.85:1 transfer that is enhanced for widescreen TV’s. I’ve seen this movie on about every medium available, and the DVD positively brings new life into the picture. The colors are still a bit weak, and there is some grain to the print, but it looks great. Edge enhancement is minimal and the outdoor scenes in Beverly Hills look like a postcard. There’s not a whole lot to say here, the benefit of the anamorphic transfer has a lot to do with how much better the film looks (as opposed to the THX certified LaserDisc from a few years back) and is another testament to film’s being anamorphic. Black levels are very strong and consistent throughout. A great picture with only a few errors.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack sounds farily decent, but has some flaws here and there. The soundtrack is a main part of the movie, with the songs taking front seat during most of the film. While there aren’t a lot of ambient surround effects, the sound does have a depth that turns it up a notch. To say that this film is a dialog-driven movie is both true and not so true. While a lot of the comedy is physical, there are some parts of the film that simply must be heard! Beverly Hills Cop has never sounded better, folks; so check it out.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While sporting a good selection of extras, true fans of the movie might still be longing for a bit more. Still, the feature-length commentary by Director Martin Brest is a high point of the film. He’s alone on the track, so naturally he sits back and watches his own work in admiration, but he does have some insighful points about how the cast was chosen and some key scenes. It’s a good track and hopefully Brest will lay down tracks for some of his other movies (Scent of a Woman, Meet Joe Black). A nice featurette entitled Beverly Hills Cop – The Phenomenon Begins clocks in at just about a half hour. It’s more of a retrospective look back on how the film was made, the cast was chosen and the obstacles that had to be overcome to get the film made. Apparantely, the script was on a desk with about ten others and it was chosen almost at random to get made! If they only knew… A Glimpse into the Casting Process is a much shorter featurette that told how the other actors were chosen for their parts. Most of the cast was under the impression that it would be a Sylvester Stallone movie, then once Murphy was aboard, some things had to change. A very interesting look at how the Hollywood casting system works. The music of Beverly Hills Cop is yet another short featurette looking at, you guessed it, the music of the movie. Axel F is the most noted piece from the film and it’s compared to the music of The Third Man. They wanted to have a reconizible piece that made you think of the star of the movie, even though he wasn’t on screen. Obviously it worked. A location map is a neat little feature that has locations used throughout the movie (in Beverly Hills) told by Angelo Graham. Some of the snippets are a bit short, and I felt they should have been edited together, but it’s still a nice little feature to have. A stills gallery is also included as is the original theatrical trailer in anamorphic widescreen. I suppose the only thing you might get tired of is Eddie Murphy’s laugh, but don’t let that deter you from adding this film to your collection!