Collector's Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Ted Demme (Director)
Running Time 104:03 minutes Other Extras Featurette - Spotlight On Location (19:26)
Outtakes (5:44)
Director's Edits (5:20)
Music Highlights
Production Notes
Biographies - Cast & Crew
DVD ROM material
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (52:49)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Ted Demme

Columbia TriStar
Starring Eddie Murphy
Martin Lawrence
RRP $39.95 Music Wyclef Jean

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
English Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

   Eddie Murphy has had some brilliant movies during his career such as Beverley Hills Cop, Coming To America, The Nutty Professor ..... and some not so brilliant movies like Boomerang, Vampire In Brooklyn, and Doctor Dolittle (shudder). Well, Life is a definite return to form and a treat of a movie. I went in expecting rubbish, which is the usual for a modern comedy (having recently seen a preview of the loathsome American Pie, I was not in the most receptive of moods). I was most pleasantly surprised, and enjoyed the movie a great deal. I also found Martin Lawrence's performance to be well above par; a definite surprise also. This is not your standard Eddie Murphy look at me, I am one smooth brother type of movie!

    Rayford Gibson (Eddie) bumps into Claude Banks (Martin), and steals his wallet. Since Claude has just been visited by "the boys" and had his wallet emptied as part payment for money he owes, Rayford does not profit much from this. They both end up in trouble with the Mob as a result, and are spared by offering to do an "alcohol run" job to make amends. On the way, Rayford being who he is gets them both into even more trouble and they end up on the wrong side of the prison gates. Not that the prison they go to has gates, just a lot of land and some men with guns who will shoot anyone who, shall we say, tries to wander away. So, they end up spending most of their lives from the '30's to the '90's in a southern prison, both hating each other and being inseparable. This makes for some very, very funny moments in exploring this love-hate relationship, and also provides for some more serious moral storytelling.

    Life seems to have struck just the right balance between comedy and drama. The comedy is rarely over-the-top, though Eddie sometimes just can't help himself - indeed, many times I was howling with laughter with his trade-mark antics; and neither is it too weighty with more serious concerns. It is a thoroughly entertaining movie which leaves you satisfied at the end, though you do feel upset that they have lost all their lives for something they didn't do ..... but that's Life I suppose (sorry!).

Transfer Quality


    Ooooh ... this is nice. Universal are all over the show with the quality of their transfers, and it is almost a "play and pray" each time I go to watch a new one. Well, this one is the goods, no doubt about it. I have no problems giving this reference status.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    Gloriously sharp and detailed at all times, this transfer is glorious. Shadow detail was always right on the money, and there was no hint of low-level noise.

    The colour palette is slightly toned down on this one, and a bit on the warm side. This suits the film superbly, and is wonderful to look at. No chroma noise and no bleeding.

    This is one of those DVDs that have no MPEG artefacts of any kind, the encoding is absolutely transparent; neither was there any aliasing, film-to-video artefacts or any significant film artefacts. Very, very sweet. These are the kinds of movies which are a joy to watch for the video quality itself, let alone the content!

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 52:49 during Chapter 11. It was very difficult to spot, and I had to play over it a number of times to be sure. It happens during a natural fade, and is most impressively placed.


    There are four film soundtracks on this disc, being English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian  Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Just when you settle in for a seemingly perfect presentation, along comes some duff dialogue to ruin things. This is the only area in the soundtrack that is below par, and is a real disappointment. There were all-too-many times when the vocals were very, very poor sounding. I put this down to Eddie Murphy's dislike of looping (which he says himself during the outtakes). The first time we come across it is in the car during Chapter 5, where the vocals have no top end and sound thin and distant, and it quickly becomes fatiguing. Whilst this does not by any means happen all the time, it does now and then and is pretty bad given the youth of the film and obviously high production values elsewhere. There were no lip sync problems.

    The music was very, very well recorded and goes a way to make up for the vocals. Weighty and clean, the score consists of contemporary tracks and fits the movie very well.

    This is an aggressive soundtrack, and makes superb use of the 5.1 environment to really put you into the movie. This is one of the better 5.1 tracks I have heard, with distinct sounds in the rears. Music also benefits from this, and sounds large and spacious.

    My sub had a ball during this movie, and enjoyed the beat of the music when it was present. Turn this one up and enjoy.



    Quite a nicely done menu, albeit very slow on my player to navigate. The main menu features a calendar peeling away with audio accompaniment and a window into the movie at various points throughout. Going to "scene selections" results in a nice dissolve, and then .... static scene selections. Oh well, you can't win 'em all! Also of note is that the menu structure is 16x9 throughout - so why aren't the extras?

English Audio Commentary - Ted Demme (Director)

    A lively and informative commentary by someone who obviously loves the DVD format. He loved making this movie, loves everyone in it, and talks basically non-stop throughout. A good listen.

Featurette - Spotlight On Location (19:26)

    Presented in 1.33:1 in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, this is quite a good look at the behind the scenes work on the movie, and was a lot better than I expected. It features a lot of interviews, and one of the most disturbing parts of these is how many times Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy say "you know" whilst they talk. Truly frightening. Also of note is a scene where we see, in pseudo stop-motion, Eddie being made over to look older. This process takes a good few hours, and I think this is the first time I have seen the full process from start to finish. Amazing.

Outtakes (5:44)

    Presented in 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. Whilst the video quality of these outtakes is very poor, they are absolutely hilarious and had me laughing out loud many times. These are most welcome and enjoyable.

Director's Edits (5:20)

    A bit of padding here I believe, and not of much value. Presented in 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. It features two scenes, both introduced by the director, and represent those scenes as he would have liked them to be screened, but weren't for whatever reasons.

Music Highlights

   Another bit of padding, this simply offers 10 scene selections that jump to specific parts of the movie with notable musical pieces. I don't really know why anyone would want this, but there it is!

Production Notes

Biographies - Cast & Crew

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. Short, sharp and of very high quality.

DVD ROM material

    I wasn't able to look at this given that I don't have a DVD ROM player (and have no inkling for one either). I find the whole concept of DVD ROM content an absolute bore anyway.
[Ed. The DVD-ROM content of this DVD basically mirrors that which is found on the Life web site.]

R4 vs R1

    Both versions are for all intents are purpose the same content wise, and so once again the R4 would be preferred given the waaaay better PAL video.


    A refreshingly different movie for Eddie Murphy - funny and with substance. I did not expect to enjoy the movie nearly as much as I did, and it is definitely one I will return to again and again.

    The video is exceptionally good, and is of reference quality.

    The audio is excellent save for the often poor vocals, so it falls short of reference as a result.

    A welcome set of extras, and certainly enough to justify Collector's Edition status. This is very, very good disc, and I highly recommend any Eddie Murphy or Martin Lawrence fan to have a watch!

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
5th February, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive