Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Unseen Footage-Lethal Weapon 1-3
Outtakes-Lethal Weapon 1-3
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1998|
|Running Time||122:12 (Case: 127)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Sided||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard Donner|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, just a tiny bit|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during credits|
The film starts with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) responding to an emergency in which some armoured lunatic is using an assault rifle and a flame-thrower to terrorize a sector of the inner city. Their merits as combat veterans rotating back into a life as policemen that made Lethal Weapon so interesting are gone, and the attempts at humour have reached a level that makes me very sick. Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) returns with his usual interjections of okays, but now the script adds another word to his vocabulary in the shape of "whatever". I presume this challenge was offered to Pesci when he got sick of the threats to have his tongue surgically excised for tormenting action fans with his constant okaying. Roger's daughter Rianne (Traci Wolfe) is carrying the baby of one young detective named Lee Butters (Chris Rock), and is married to him somehow without Roger knowing about it. Incidentally, Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), the character that somehow managed to save the previous sequel from the depths of sheer boredom, is reduced to a prop by this plot. She is listed in the fourth position in the credits, but she only seems to get about fifty minutes of screen time. What happened to the fierce detective who could take on five thugs at once with just her bare hands? Screenwriter Channing Gibson (no relation) should have been shot for penning this effort.
Even if you only have a very mild interest in the Lethal Weapon series (as I do), I am sure you will join me in a wild chorus of agonizing disappointment with this instalment. The usual banter between the action scenes which made the other three films so much more enjoyable has been reduced to an annoyance in this episode because of the fact that Joe Pesci and Chris Rock are actually allowed to speak to one another. At least Joe Pesci has demonstrated that he has an ability to act, but this character will go down in memory as one of the most irritating in the history of cinema. We are even treated to material of such a low grade that it could honestly be construed as homophobic (the interaction between Murtaugh and Butters) and racist (Riggs' use of Murtaugh as a decoy in the opening sequence). Okay, so you have to be a little creative to see those parts of the script in that way, but the point is that the series has gone from a believable story involving the day-to-day antics of an emotionally ill character portrayed in a compelling way to one that will offend some sensitive minds. The only believable line spoken during this film is one by a Chinese triad member by the name of Wah Sing Ku (Jet Li) about the way in which Riggs behaves during his visit to a Chinese restaurant: "in Hong Kong, you'd be dead". By this time, this film is certainly dead to me in terms of story development. All the restored violence in the world (the theatrical release was only rated M) cannot save a film with a poor plot.
The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 Enhancement. The transfer is generally very sharp, with plenty of detail on offer throughout most of the film, although backgrounds had a tendency to become soft and ill-defined during slower sequences. Shadow detail is also very good, with plenty of subtle detail on offer in all dimly-lit sections of the film, which is especially important given that the film's climax takes place in a barely-lit factory during the middle of the night. Low-level noise is not a real problem in this transfer, and neither is film grain.
The colour saturation is not-so-slightly problematic in this transfer, especially during the first fifteen minutes of the film. Lethal Weapon 4 is by far the most heavily saturated episode in the series, making it somewhat at odds with the grimy, seedy look that was used during the other three episodes to set the proper atmosphere. During the opening sequence, the colours are oversaturated to the point of bleeding and becoming quite unpleasant to look at. This settled down for the rest of the film, but it still remains problematic and unsettling throughout, partly because it simply looks so far away from what one should expect from the series.
MPEG artefacts are not a serious problem in this feature, which is surprising when you consider how demanding both the pace and settings of this film are. It is a wonder that there didn't seem to be any motion compensation artefacts during the fight sequences. Film-to-video artefacts were the biggest problem in this transfer, with many occurrences from all of the usual culprits, ranging from minor to somewhat distracting. Film artefacts were almost non-existent, as one would reasonably expect from a film of this recent vintage. There was one momentary series of vertical lines through the picture at 23:49 that may or may not be an MPEG artefact, but I am erring on the side of caution and labelling them as either film artefacts or marks that were somehow left on the picture during the telecine process. They are extremely distracting and the worst artefact of the transfer, and I am sure that Columbia Tristar would reject a pressing of one of their films that contained something which looks this bad.
This disc is a flipper, with most of the extras on side B. Please don't bother to write me about how this technically doesn't make it a flipper because the end result is still the same - the disc is easy prey for the oil that secretes from your fingertips and palms, especially when someone not quite as careful as you or I gets their hands on it. While the formatting is not disruptive to the film, RSDL formatting would have been preferable since this would allow the film itself significantly more space to breathe.
There are three soundtracks on this DVD, all of which are encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second: the original English dialogue, with dubs in French and Italian. I listened to the default English soundtrack, and sampled a couple of passages in the Italian dub for a laugh.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand once the problematic first fifteen minutes of the film were out of the way. During those fifteen minutes when the video transfer was also quite a problem, the dialogue was muffled and unclear, as well as drowned out by ambient sound effects. This is rather annoying and tends to leave the average viewer in a perpetual state of wonder as to what was being said during this crucial time in the film, in spite of the fact that the quality of the dialogue is not much to write home about. The level of the dialogue improved after the first fifteen minutes, but it is a real pity that the same cannot be said for the quality of the dialogue, especially given that Chris Rock is introduced into the film after this point. There were no subjective problems with audio sync during the English dialogue, but the small handful of lines that are rendered in Chinese made me wonder if they were dubbed.
The score music in this film is credited to Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, and David Sanborn. Just as most of the magic from the other three films seems to be missing from the plot, it also seems to be missing from this score music. Repetition does not work, and this score music proves it, as there don't seem to be any distinct themes used here that made me sit up and notice their unique beauty. Indeed, for all I know to the contrary, all of the musical cues in this soundtrack could have simply been lifted from the previous episodes and simply served up again. Even a couple of scenes in the film seem to share the same musical cue, which is a very bad sign in my terms.
The surround channels were very aggressively used to support the plethora of gunshot and explosion sounds, as well as the frequent musical cues and ambient effects. Although the surround channel usage is not that greatly improved compared to the remix of the original, the fidelity in the surround effects is greater simply because there was more of it to begin with. There are none of those instances in which the sound field collapses into mono or stereo, although there are times when the surround effects become quiet enough to miss. It is a terrible shame about the problems with the first fifteen minutes of the film, because this soundtrack is otherwise very highly enveloping and immersive. The subwoofer is very well-integrated into the overall soundtrack, putting a superb bottom end on the action, all without calling any specific attention to itself.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
Aside from some problems early on in the film, the video quality is very good.
Aside from some problems early on in the film, the audio quality is also very good.
The extras are comprehensive, lacking only a commentary track that makes it clear what a rush-job the script actually was, which was included on the Region 1 release.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|