Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

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Released 7-Aug-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 99:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Landis
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Eddie Murphy
Judge Reinhold
Hector Elizondo
Timothy Carhart
John Saxon
Theresa Randle
Alan Young
Bronson Pinchot
Rick Avery
Gilbert R. Hill
Dick Purtan
Fred Asparagus
Louis Lombardi
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Nile Rodgers


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Spanish
Croatian
Greek
Hebrew
Portuguese
Slovenian
French Titling
Italian Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Well, here we are at Beverly Hills Cop III. If this is your first stop on the ride I suggest you read my reviews of Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II so that the discussion which follows makes more sense to you. As a fan of the series I remember being curious back in the early 1990s about the amount of time it was taking to produce this film. I assumed it was because of problems getting the cast together. As it turns out, the problem was more with the story. Discussing the basic plot outline in the interviews segment on this DVD, Producer Robert Rehme comments that they "couldn't get it together" despite 4 or 5 attempts.

    When they did finally sort out the plot and arrange for the cast to come on board they were missing John Ashton, who played Taggart in the first two films. Given his central relationship with Judge Reinhold's character, Rosewood, in the first two films this was a major hole. Luckily, Hector Elizondo slips in to fill that hole quite nicely. His character in the film (John Flynn) works well with the other established members of the team. Eddie Murphy continues to play Detroit cop Axel Foley. Gil Hill also returns to reprise his role as Todd, Axel's boss (I have seen his name spelt Gil and Gill now - you can pick one if you like). A new director is also along for the ride, John Landis (director of The Blues Brothers and Trading Places amongst others) - more on that development later.

    The story opens in Detroit, as Axel Foley and his team stake out a suspect motor parts warehouse. Todd asks if they need SWAT team back-up, but Foley doesn't think so. Unbeknownst to them, the real heavies of the film, led by Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart in a nicely understated performance), have arrived in the warehouse to pick up a truck full of stolen US Government property. They execute the hoods in the warehouse and bust out past Foley, mortally wounding Todd in the process. A great car chase ensues but the villain manages to escape the pursuing Foley. Looks like they needed that SWAT team after all.

    Todd unfortunately dies from his wounds, but not before he asks Foley to bring his killer to justice; "Axel, are you on a coffee break? Go get the sonofab****". Touching words indeed. Evidence at the scene points to a link with the Wonderland amusement Park in California (a thinly veiled satire on Disneyland) and so Foley is soon on his way west for the third time. As before he teams up with Rosewood, as well as new pal Flynn (we are told that Taggart has retired), and wreaks havoc with the local establishment on his way to solving the crime (just what did the bad guys take from that truck back in Detroit?).

    With the change of director for this film, there are a few unexpected twists in the tale. There is a love interest for Foley this time, played spunkily by Theresa Randle, and Bronson Pinchot makes a surprise return as Serge, who we last saw in the art gallery in Beverly Hills Cop. Pinchot is just plain hilarious and his sales pitch for the Annihilator 2000 is worth the price of this disc alone. If you are a fan of old TV shows you might also recognize the owner of Wonderland, Uncle Dave (the Walt Disney of this fantasy land) - he is played by the star of Mr Ed, Alan Young. There is also a very nice moment where the Wonderland theme has been playing incessantly during a major gunfight (a satire on It's A Small World After All), and Flynn shouts "Turn that f----ng song off!". If you have spent a few days at Disneyland you might sympathise.

    These satirical jabs are just one new touch that John Landis brings to the film. One of the others is a little more problematic: at times he makes this film seem more like a sequel to The Blues Brothers than a Beverly Hills Cop film. Watch the scene where Rosewood arranges for the suspect truck to be seized, and then the scene in the Cook County offices near the end of The Blues Brothers - the police overkill is just as marked. While those of us who love the dumb humour in the latter film will laugh, it is just silly in the context of this film. In fact, after watching the film you will most likely be surprised it took 7 years to come up with the plot. Perhaps they left it simmering too long. What this means is that the film is less satisfying than the original, but I personally like it better than the second. Landis is more comfortable directing comedy than Tony Scott was in Beverly Hills Cop II, and the actors seem more at ease as a result. If you liked either of the others you will enjoy this one as well. Let's hope they make a fourth as Reinhold hints they might in the interview feature.

    As an added bonus, for those of you who are into spotting famous faces and know your movies, a number of film directors and film technicians make cameo appearances in this film. They blend in nicely and looking for them makes watching the movie a second time a nice game. I'm sure most of you will recognise George Lucas (American Graffiti and that sci-fi film, what was it again?). I'll leave it to you to spot them all, but to get you started look out for Joe Dante (Gremlins and The Howling) and stop-motion legend Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans) amongst others.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    After seeing the great picture on Beverly Hills Cop II I was a little disappointed with the video transfer on offer here. While it is generally pleasing, it does not look as good as a big-budget film that is barely 10 years old should.

    The transfer has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is acceptably close to the theatrical release ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture is reasonably sharp, but with some softer focus on occasion (see 16:15 for an example of the generally sharp picture). Shadow detail is fine - see around 9:38 where the night-time car chase exhibits good detail. There is no low level noise for most of the film, though some of the blue-screen work has a little (see 28:27).

    Colours are vivid for most of the film. Again, the early Detroit scenes are darker by way of contrast to sunny California, which is a deliberate artistic decision. Some of the scenes in Wonderland are particularly colourful - see 22:37 for a nice shot.

    The most disappointing aspect of this transfer is the amount of damage to be seen on the print. While it is small and not hugely significant, it is apparent through most of the film. There is some pixelization (31:20) and also a number of film-to-video artefacts. Venetian blinds are again a problem with aliasing (see 49:57) and edge enhancement is apparent at times around characters' hair (17:48 for one example). Minor positive and negative artefacts can also be seen (see 19:57 for some damage at the lower right of the screen).

    The subtitles (you have 9 languages to choose from) are not particularly accurate. At times they miss words, and once or twice entire sentences. The line "Welcome to the Beverly Hills police department" becomes "Welcome to Beverly Hills".

    There is a brief layer change at 62:01, which might be disruptive on some players as it is in the middle of a scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Luckily the audio transfer is better than the video transfer. There are four audio tracks on the disc; English, French and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448 Kb/s, and a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track encoded at 224 Kb/s. I listened to the English track and parts of the Italian. The actor dubbing Murphy makes a good attempt to match him, but ultimately fails.

    Dialogue quality is clear throughout, with good audio sync. Even during scenes where Murphy is talking very fast he is always understandable.

    The music starts off well, with a nice Supremes song, but goes downhill after that. The Axel F theme is the only notable element. The other songs and accompanying music are purely functional, and nothing more.

    There is excellent surround presence in both the music and the effects. At all times the music is projected with a fully dimensional soundfield which gives all 6 speakers a good workout. Sound effects are more carefully controlled in their use of space, but are all the more effective when they kick in (listen to the 'alien attack' theme park ride at 83:01 for an excellent use of the surrounds). Gunfire and explosions are nicely aggressive (try the gunshots at 7:10). The subwoofer is nicely engaged to support the sound effects without being overly utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The selection of extras is small, but what is on offer is of good quality.

Menu

    The menu is animated with music. From it you can Play the Movie, choose Audio Options (language), access Special Features (all two of them; they needed a separate menu for that?), select Subtitles, or go to Scene Selection (14 to choose from).

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a fast-paced presentation which runs for 1:45 at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. Be careful - it gives away more of the plot than I do in my synopsis.

Cast & Crew Interviews - Triple Axel

    As with the first two discs, this one is newly produced and is good value. It has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 for the interviews and 1.85:1 for the film excerpts. There is a lot of interesting background information on offer here. I was interested to hear Murphy claim that this film had Axel going "Back to reality" and that it is "as good as" the first. I think he might live on a different planet than the rest of us.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc appears to miss out on:

    For this reason, and because of the superior PAL picture, the Region 4 version is preferred.

Summary

    This is a nice conclusion to the Beverly Hills Cop film series (so far). While the plot is not the best, the stars are in fine form and there are some excellent action and comedy moments. The picture is acceptable and the audio quality is very good, and there is a small but useful set of extras. This one is reasonable value by itself, but you would probably be best buying the boxed set of all three films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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