BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)
2011 BD - Image B+ Sound C+ Extras A
2020 BD - Image A Sound C+ Extras A
starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher
screenplay by Daniel Petrie Jr.
directed by Martin Brest
by Walter Chaw I used to watch Beverly Hills Cop about once a week in regular rotation with other movies I bootlegged during those first delirious go-rounds with the VCR-connected-to-rented-VCR carousel. It was on an extended-play tape with two other movies (Desert Hearts was one of the others, Re-Animator the third; quite the triple-feature!); back then, quantity beat the ever-loving shit out of quality. (Bless Paramount, by the way, for always being too cheap to encode their VHS tapes with Macrovision.) For me, Beverly Hills Cop was, like its contemporary Ghost Busters, the ne plus ultra of comedy--my eleven-year-old self still a couple of years away from Monty Python--and the requisite throwaway scene in a strip club was enough to be the centrefold in this analog PLAYBOY that, huzzah, I didn't have to hide between the mattress and bedspring. The picture had, truth be told, everything a pre-pubescent boy could want in terms of violence (but not freaky violence), sex (but not freaky sex), nobility (the easy-to-understand kind), and plotting (ditto). The hero was an African-American man I'd never seen on SNL (which was on too late for me to catch) and had likewise never seen in 48Hrs.. He was small and not particularly powerful, but he was lithe and had a quick wit and compelling improvisational skills, and he ably parlayed his minority status in a few scenes that aren't the slightest bit threatening. Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley is, in fact, not entirely unlike cultural brother E.T.--the outsider hero with special abilities who, mission accomplished, can slink off to wherever it is he came from.
That wherever it is being Detroit, Motor City, where Foley is the po-po, jiving from undercover in the back of a stolen cigarette truck while The Pointer Sisters carve out their only hit on the back of the top-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time. The comparison is apt, because the poverty and decay of Detroit might as well have been Mars to me (still: the best joke of RoboCop now is that its vision of a destroyed, post-apocalyptic Detroit is sunnier than the city's current reality), and Foley emerging from it to restore an affluent, white, equally sci-fi community had an undeniably seductive appeal to a kid--me--who was also a minority in a predominantly white area who often wondered what the hell happened. The fish-out-of-water humour is of the same species as "The Beverly Hillbillies", spiced up a little--through the magic of casting and Murphy's temporary status as racial spokesman--by a mild racial element. Compare the one, probably ad-libbed line in Beverly Hills Cop about Axel's race ("A Black man, dressed like this...") with the barrage of racial taboo-breaking in Walter Hill's brilliant 48Hrs. to begin charting the legendarily-steep decline of Murphy as a conversation worth having outside the tabloids.
After his archetypal chief (Gilbert R. Hill) perfunctorily chews him out, Axel is visited by a childhood pal who made good in Beverly Hills as a security guard and has returned to Detroit, with a pocketful of pilfered bearer bonds (German, because Germany is a good shorthand for "evil"), to shoot some stick. Alas, said buddy (an unbelievably young, and hirsute, James Russo) is executed for his transgression across social lines, leaving Axel to drive his undesirable Black ass to Hollywood and Vine to show the soulless BHPD how a brother solves a murder. If nothing else, Beverly Hills Cop comes full-circle from stick-in-his-ass MISTER Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) teaching all the loosey-goosey crackers how systems and edd-ication is the answer to equality to loosey-goosey Axel Foley teaching all the stick-in-their-ass crackers how to loosen up, objectify the bitches, drink magnums, and nail some presumably-racist Aryans for smuggling drugs into the country. Drugs--it's not said, but we're all thinking it--that will most likely end up back in Detroit to further oppress Axel's people. And by the way, there is no answer to equality. The film's closest analog is probably the underestimated Demolition Man, which has the balls to un-freeze a relic from an alien society to deal with a social irritant--but doesn't have the balls to re-freeze him the way that Beverly Hills Cop sends Axel away once he's outlived his usefulness, a bag full of purloined hotel robes his only recompense.
Six months earlier in the same year as Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy stars in his first flop, Best Defense, before embarking on The Golden Child (which mocked Asian cultures instead of white ones), Coming to America (which doubled back to target African cultures), and various other projects too sundry (Vampire in Brooklyn) and/or embarrassing to detail at length. Despite his astoundingly rapid ascension of the ranks into the American cultural pantheon on the backs of his short stint on SNL and performances in 48Hrs. and Trading Places, by Beverly Hills Cop he's already showing fatigue, as what's genuinely edgy and disquieting about his persona is steadily bleached-out into a far-easier-to-assimilate image of the help, invited in for supper and then bed down in the barn. Good boy. Who would've thought the erstwhile Reggie Hammond would spend his dotage fucking himself (Norbit), doing the voice of an animated donkey sidekick, and talking to animals and toddlers in kiddie franchises? But already in Beverly Hills Cop, there's a distinct feeling that Murphy represents all the marginalized members of our society (recall the lisping gay caricature he essays to earn an audience with chief baddie Maitland (Steven Berkoff)), summarizing the main elements that marginalize them in amusing stand-up routines and repackaging them in a socially-beneficial, cute, even-tempered helper elf. Axel watches white strippers dance, but he doesn't get the sex he gets in 48Hrs., nor is he offered the tantalizing carrot of interracial sex as in Trading Places. Just a couple years into his superstardom, he's already been neutered for your protection.
Not helping matters is that Axel's chief antagonists in Beverly Hills Cop are a bumbling pair of Laurel & Hardy flatfoots, Taggert (John Ashton) and Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, eternally Brad Hamilton). They're the straight men to Axel's act, fooled by his antics and awestruck by his resourceful street smarts until, in the end, they finally learn to strut under the tutelage of their very own brother from another planet. It's telling that director Martin Brest encouraged Ashton and Reinhold to play their roles like an old married couple, as Beverly Hills Cop is essentially Guess Who's Coming to Dinner with a uniquely not-smart-but-clever screenplay that likewise shies away from the real issues Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley raises in favour of something perilously close to a minstrel show. When Eddie does his trademark A-OK (i.e., "o-tay") hand gesture and Buckwheat grin in Cop, it's not ironic and self-knowing as it is in 48Hrs. or borderline-devastating as it is in Trading Places, but curiously un-ironic and not-self-knowing. Absolutely the most capable person in the film, Axel gets no commendation, no woman, no nothing except the satisfaction of avenging the death of a white friend at the hands of white villains to the glorification of the white policemen who are aided by him. He is, signs suggest, already what Melvin Van Peebles would identify as the n******.
THE BLU-RAY DISC
Beverly Hills Cop comes to Blu-ray from Paramount in a nice 1.78:1, 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that avoids the smoothness of many catalogue releases and exhibits none of the obvious lack of care afforded recently to 48Hrs.. It's not showcase material (nor is this necessarily the kind of movie that lends itself to being showcased), but it's not bad, with better interior shadow detail than I ever remember having seen. An environment ripe for colour bleed and murkiness, the strip club, is, for example, notably well-defined. There's (fine) grain throughout as befits a film shot on film and exteriors pop in a way I doubt they have since the first screenings on the first days. The attendant 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is more disappointing, as most of the information is relegated to the front channels. Although ultimately adequate, neither does the mix feel as muscular as I remember it. Partly the product of decades of stakes-raising fare, no doubt, but also that the soundtrack lacks a lot of, well, muscle.
Brest contributes a feature-length yakker that begins with a burst of enthusiasm that's both charming irritating as he declares that he hasn't seen the film in "150 years" and is "mesmerized" by the parade of opening credits. Later, he'll apologize and say that his periodic lapses into silence are because the dialogue hypnotized him; Brest probably did a lot of uncredited work on the screenplay. I like an anecdote about how an undercover cop they hired for security while shooting second-unit in Detriot refused to go into certain neighbourhoods--and I like Brest's memory for small moments, which actually edifies the experience of the film. As disappointed as I am returning to Beverly Hills Cop all these years later, I guess at heart I remain a fan, and these tales out of school are still tales I wanted to hear. Herein, learn how they retooled the film after Sylvester Stallone priced himself out of it and how there was an awareness of race issues but that they were almost unconsciously transmogrified into caste issues. I didn't love Brest taking credit for some of Murphy's Murphy™ riff, but hey. I listened to it without frustration the whole way through, and that's saying something.
Ported over with Brest's commentary from the Special Collector's Edition DVD, "Beverly Hills Cop: The Phenomenon Begins" (30 mins., SD) is a 2002 retrospective making-of in which the likes of producer Jerry Bruckheimer recount the myths and half-truths surrounding the genesis of the film. Michael Eisner, everyone seems to agree, was instrumental on the ground floor, which, honestly, ain't that hard to believe. Credited writers Danilo Bach and Daniel Petrie Jr. talk about original casting choices Mickey Rourke, Clint Eastwood, and James Caan (and Brest offers in the yak-track that much of what he imagined for the Detroit prologue patter came from Mean Streets--further intimating that he had more than a custodial interest in the shooting script)--but the rest of the time is spent documenting the high volume of on-set improvisation. One speculates that the combination of this spontaneity and an idolatry of Murphy's ability to riff did the star no favours going forward. Stallone's rewrites are discussed in passing, though the participants resist cheap shots at Cobra, the film eventually spun from his take on the material. By all accounts, Stallone comported himself with absolute civility. A great piece in spite of the inevitable hagiography.
"A Glimpse Inside the Acting Process" (9 mins., SD) has the core cast (Reinhold, Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Ronny Cox, and Murphy, appearing via footage from the Dr. Dolittle 2 junket) again discussing the familiar things and Brest recalling his planned approach to working with Stallone and how he saw the whole thing as a story of class struggle (like his Midnight Run, come to think of it). Not as interesting, but not terrible. "The Music of Beverly Hills Cop" (8 mins., SD) starts to slide off the rails as, unfortunately, for as immensely popular as the soundtrack proved to be at the time, it blows Beverly Hills Cop's aspirations towards immortality to shit. Nothing pulls you out of something as quickly as Harold Faltermeyer (or Glenn Frey)--and let me say this directly to music editor Bob Badami: don't introduce The Third Man with "there's a movie called The Third Man" unless you want to piss off the only people who give a shit about your stupid Zither/Anton Karas pretentious-ass reference in relation to motherfucking "Nasty Girl." An interactive "Location Map" points out places where the movie was shot on a map that, once clicked, pulls up interview clips (about 90 seconds apiece) with location managers, while the moldy theatrical trailer (2 mins.) clarifies how bad the film surely looked on my VCR back in the day despite its upgrade to HD. Funny to say, it made me more nostalgic and sad than anything else. Needless to say, we've gotten better at cutting trailers. Originally published: May 31, 2011.
BEVERLY HILLS COP II (1987)
*/**** Image A Sound B
starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Reiser
screenplay by Larry Ferguson and Warren Skaaren
directed by Tony Scott
BEVERLY HILLS COP III (1994)
*½/**** Image A Sound A+
starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Hector Elizondo, Theresa Randle
written by Steven E. de Souza
directed by John Landis
"Beverly Hills Cop II was probably the most successful mediocre picture in history."
-Eddie Murphy in ROLLING STONE, 1989
by Bill Chambers Sylvester Stallone had the Rocky series and Eddie Murphy had the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy: auteur pieces that check in with their stars every few years to provide state-of-the-union addresses on their careers. The difference is that the Rocky series is very consciously designed that way by an actor who built his alter ego from the ground up, whereas the Beverly Hills Cop movies are generic blockbusters that bend to Murphy's will. I'm looking forward to the long-promised Beverly Hills Cop IV just to see where Eddie's head is at these days. In the meantime, we have new Blu-rays of the first three films to contend with, and what we find in the sequels isn't pretty. Okay, technically Beverly Hills Cop II is pretty: Director Tony Scott and DP Jeffrey L. Kimball, in an extreme stylistic departure from the original, shoot it like a continuation of their previous collaboration, Top Gun. The first Beverly Hills Cop took place in the city of Beverly Hills and the second one takes place on planet Beverly Hills, where the sun is perpetually at half-mast, the majority of the source lighting is neon, and the police operate out of cavernous digs in City Hall. This is the sort of movie that features a plot point about an oil field solely for the cinegenic tableau of derricks pumping in silhouette against an amber sky. There are only two speaking parts for women in the film; the rest appear on camera as if captured in action like wildlife in a nature special. Calling Beverly Hills Cop II misogynistic would almost give it too much credit: to paraphrase Don Draper, the movie doesn't think about women at all.
Granted, Detective Axel Foley (Murphy) refers to them exclusively as bitches--even the one he likes. What happened to him in the three years since Beverly Hills Cop, I found myself wondering. The answer is, the guy playing him had lowered the bar for the growing gaggle of yes-men surrounding him and a horde of insatiable fans. After a prologue in which a torpedo-sleek Brigitte Nielsen and her cronies rob a Beverly Hills jewelry store, the film swings to Detroit--but Axel Foley is pure Beverly Hills as he slips on a pinstripe suit (complete with a lingering view of his toned bod, nearly naked, and a shot where he grabs his crotch), cracks himself up with a little Travis Bickle gunplay, and makes fuck-me eyes at his reflection in the mirror, which is when you get the money shot of Eddie doing his grinding Eddie laugh. Don't mistake it for self-effacement: the next cut finds him getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
These were the days when Eddie compulsively flaunted his riches, throwing Gatsby parties at his New Jersey compound and driving around the studio lot in a golf cart festooned with a Rolls-Royce grille. Indeed, his friends called him "Money." Too, he was at the peak of his narcissism (a ROLLING STONE article published in 1989 says he is "known throughout his household for interminable rituals spent each day before mirrors, combing and recombing his hair"); these things--money and vanity--tend to go hand in hand, as Trump has shown. Black wealth is different, though--Black wealth is a form of protest, and while Murphy may have over-insulated himself during this period, he also used his power to stock his film crews with Black talent and even called out Oscar's history of overwhelming whiteness when presenting Best Picture at the 1988 Academy Awards, the year The Last Emperor won. "I'll probably never win an Oscar for saying this," Eddie predicts towards the end of his nearly 2-minute speech, "but Black people will not ride the caboose of society and we will not bring up the rear anymore." It was brave. Tellingly, there wasn't a lot of blowback--neither the industry nor the media wanted to belabour that Murphy's success hadn't cured racism or absolved them of any historical wrongs. Kim Basinger got far more attention for breaking script/protocol to lament Do the Right Thing's Best Picture snub at the 1990 ceremony. The impropriety!
The problem is that Axel Foley is a different kind of role model, but Murphy's ego blurs the line between them. Yes, Axel is allegedly undercover as a high-rolling credit-card forger at the start of Beverly Hills Cop II, thus explaining the car and the fancy threads, but what to make of the dozen other suits hanging in his closet? He's still, as far as we know, a blue-collar Detroit police officer, since he still answers to Inspector Todd (the late, great Gil Hill), who gets a throwaway line about a requisition form for the Ferrari to glide over its extravagance. Conceptually, it's an intriguing notion for the sequel that Axel's dressed to the nines in the Detroit section and wearing a Detroit Lions varsity jacket for the duration of his stay in Beverly Hills, suggesting that the events of the first film have reversed the polarities of his personality. But there is no ignoring that Eddie seems more comfortable in the suit than in the jacket--the latter is a Halloween costume and Eddie's dressed as a Man of the People. There's a new tone-deafness to Axel's interactions with the gatekeepers of Southern California: Whereas before Axel wielded his race and class like a weapon against the cultural elite, here he's an 800-pound gorilla bulldozing his way through people on a wave of movie-star entitlement. Worse, this time around most of Axel's victims are the proletariat, like the construction crew he harangues so he can squat in somebody's mansioni, or the truck driver he forces to rap while pointing a gun between his eyes--a moment Roger Ebert singled out on "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies". "It made me feel sorry for the poor guy that has this gun pointed at him while this guy is screaming and wisecracking at him," Ebert said, adding, "[Murphy] turns into this loudmouth, obnoxious boor in this movie and that's not funny." He put it even more succinctly in his print review: "What is comedy? That's a pretty basic question, I know, but 'Cop II' never thought to ask it."
Not helping is an incoherent storyline credited to Murphy and Robert D. Wachs, founder of the New York comedy club the Comic Strip--where Eddie got his start--and for many years the head of Eddie Murphy Productions. On behalf of Beverly Hills Gun Club owner Maxwell Dent (Jürgen Prochnow), femme fatale Karla Fry (Nielsen) stages a series of heists that come to be credited to the Alphabet Bandit because of her penchant for tagging the crime scenes with a monogrammed envelope. Yes, it's stupid. When Fry shoots Capt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox) to slow down his investigation, Axel, who's inexplicably been planning fishing trips with the stoic captainii and getting chummy with his adult daughter, Jan (Alice Adair), sneaks off to Beverly Hills to solve the case.iii It all somehow leads our hero to the Playboy Mansioniv in a cement truck and then to an oil field where he corners the villains, who very graciously die. Axel's de facto partners Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) return to get in on the hijinks, and though one scene reveals the unassuming Rosewood to be a "fucked-up" loner who's stockpiling weapons, it's not a thread the film particularly wants to pull and surely felt no obligation to in 1987. (This scene is additionally notable for a tongue-in-cheek moment that puts Axel face-to-face with the poster for Cobra, Stallone's rewrite of Beverly Hills Cop.) All the returning players fall prey to the law of diminishing returns--including The Pointer Sisters, whose "Be There" lacks the gritty pathos of "Neutron Dance," the catchiest ode to American hypocrisy this side of "Born in the U.S.A.."
"Vic Morrow has a better chance of working with [John] Landis than I do."
-Eddie Murphy in THE NEW YORK TIMES, 1988
"[I]f I do a Cop III, you can safely say, 'Ooh, he must have gotten a lot of money.' Because we're whores."
-Eddie Murphy in ROLLING STONE, 1989
John Landis's Beverly Hills Cop III is something of a return to form--gone are the moody Tony Scott-isms, replaced by a reasonable facsimile of the first film's workplace aesthetic--that nevertheless squanders its potential to get the franchise back on track. In his book Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever, Nick de Semlyen recounts a turbulent development process that began auspiciously enough with the esteemed Robert Towne pitching ideas for it. Producer Joel Silver came and went, as did Beverly Hills Cop helmer Martin Brest. Then Eddie suffered too many underperformers in a row (Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hrs., Boomerang, The Distinguished Gentlemen), and Paramount not only slashed the budget but also ordered that any story elements reminiscent of those films be leeched from the script. And so a movie that had been about Axel taking his niece to Disneyland, uncovering a criminal conspiracy, and meeting a nice girl along the way became a movie about Axel going to one of those famous Beverly Hills theme parks, Wonder World (think Wally World with less personality), and basically having a John McClane adventure there. (Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza co-wrote the first and second Die Hard flicks.) The only battle the talent appears to have won is the one against Paramount's mandate that the film be PG-13, but the few "fuck"s and bursts of violence that earn it an "R" feel bizarrely out of place and inappropriate alongside Ferris wheels, costumed characters, and kids eating cotton candy--not subversive, just incongruous. (The (very public) attempted murder of the Walt Disney stand-in (Alan Young) isn't subversive, either, just comically implausible.) Beverly Hills Cop III is PG-13 in its heart and soul, and the box-office probably did suffer as a result of the stricter rating.
How Landis wound up circumventing Murphy's personal boycott--on Coming to America, Landis had not shown Eddie's evolution into a superstar proper deference, leading to physical altercations between the pair--turned out to be rather simple: he was available on short notice and willing to accept the screenplay as is. (He, too, had suffered a string of misfires; he would make only one more film for a major studio after Beverly Hills Cop III, Blues Brothers 2000.) But Murphy ultimately sabotaged the project when he could've potentially breathed more life into it by refusing to deliver punchlines.v "[I] gave him a gag to do and he said, 'I don't want to do that. I'd be a wiseass.' I said, 'Excuse me, Axel Foley is a wiseass.' He went, 'Yeah, yeah, he was, but he's a man now.' My theory is that at that moment in time, there were a lot of big action films with Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. And he wanted to be an action hero too," Landis tells de Semlyen. "If you look at that movie," he continues, "there are setups and he literally steps around them. It was disheartening." This is certainly true of a sequence that brings back audience-favourite Serge (Bronson Pinchot), who now runs a "survival boutique" and is repositioned as the Q of this series. He demonstrates a James Bond-style gadget for Rosewood and "Ackwell," and his pitch goes like this:
This is called a Stunner. It is designed by an ex-Navy SEAL. OK? Very serious individual, I never see him smile. Also, I never see him in a pair of pants that fit. Someone comes up to you who is a carjacker. Do you want to die for your Camry? I don't think so, right? So you say...a little bit of deception..."I want to separate the house from my car keys, OK? I'm just going to push this button, OK?" And he says, "OK." And then you push this button, and out it comes from the mechanism, the brightest, blinding light ever that you seeing. He cannot see. He's like this [rolls eyes and sticks his tongue out]. Everyone is come running to help you. And once again, you have survived with style... Ackwell, I want to give you one because I worry about you. I want you to be safe.
And after listening to all that spiel, uninterrupted, and accepting this gift from Serge, what do you think our quick-witted wizard of words says in response? He says, "Thanks."
Instead of making Axel look like a grown-up, matoor, responsible adult, it has the effect of making Eddie himself look miserable. Which I suspect he was, considering he was working with his nemesis again for a whore's paycheck. Pinchot himself correlated this in a notoriously frank interview with Nathan Rabin for the AV CLUB:
Eddie was going through his period at the time of doing movies that were not hits, and he was very low-spirited, low-energy. I said to him, "All anyone ever wants to know when they meet me is what you're like." And he said, "I bet they don't ask that anymore." And then when we did a scene, we were shooting, and he was so low-energy that John Landis sent him upstairs and said, "Just rest, Eddie, and I'll do the scene with Bronson." So whenever you see my face in the movie, I'm not really talking to Eddie, I'm talking to John Landis. And I can understand it--he was just having a bad stretch. And that stretch lasted… When did Dr. Dolittle come out? I think his funk really did last until then. I don't know what started the funk, but it lasted a chunk of time, and that was in the belly of the funk, and he was just really sad and low-energy and I basically did the scene without him there.
As Landis says, Murphy steps around setups. There's a peculiar scene where Rosewood and Taggart surrogate Flint (Hector Elizondo) dialogue in the foreground as Axel silently examines scraps of paper under a magnifying glass in the background--no more breaking into an impromptu sing-along of "The Dating Game"'s theme while awaiting test results, one of the rare charming moments in Beverly Hills Cop II. It's uncomfortable, watching Eddie care both too much and too little. The film is pleasantly surprising in a handful of ways, mind. I'm shocked to be writing this, but Landis is better at action than Tony Scott, who, at least in Beverly Hills Cop II, tends to be monotonously rigid in his jump-cuts between wide shots and close-ups.vi Landis is also more conscientious than his predecessor about peppering the frame with other Black faces, such as the lovely Theresa Randle as Axel's quasi-love interest and the Reverend Al Green himself, whose rendition of "Amazing Grace" turns the funeral for Inspector Todd into a genuinely solemn occasion. And if there's an upshot to Eddie's moroseness, it's that Axel without his mojo makes for suspenseful clashes with a BigBad (hissable Timothy Carhart, the Thelma & Louise rapist) who already has the home-team advantage as the head of security at Wonder World, where he runs a counterfeit-money ring. (Indeed, Axel seems powerless to sweet-talk himself out of jams.) In the end, the title is so determined to make a liar out of a director that the Die Hard maestro himself John McTiernan couldn't have taken this material much farther. Not that I'd put money on it.
THE BLU-RAY DISC
Paramount bundles the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy together in a three-disc Blu-ray set that marks the domestic premiere of the sequels on the format. All three films were treated to fresh 4K scans for the occasion and look sensational. II's 2.35:1, 1080p transfer sees grain restored to the crisp Super 35 image and the fine detail that comes with it. It's a highly filmic presentation that captures the richness and warmth of Tony Scott's palette, although the deep blacks contradict my memory of the more diffuse contrasts Scott favoured around this time. Still, the end result is difficult to argue with. Presumably sourced from the 6-track mix that accompanied 70mm prints of the film, the attendant 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is an excellent delivery system for Harold Faltermeyer's synth score and the likes of Bob Seger's Oscar-nominated "Shakedown" yet sounds a little reedy when it comes to voices and effects. The discrete mixing is frankly impressive for 1987, however. Boasting a similarly healthy grain structure, III docks in 1.78:1 and 1080p. What I remembered from the film is the cornflower blue skies, and they're back with renewed vigour. Better still is the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, a faithful reproduction of a deliciously obnoxious DTS mix from the Jurassic Park era that throws subwoofer support at everything. The picture opens with a low rumble of a train that will wake up the neighbours as it pans across the right side of the soundstage. I can honestly say the audio actively increases one's enjoyment of the film.
Beverly Hills Cop is once again in 1080p at 1.78:1 but sports a comparatively refined transfer with an attractive sheen of grain. Colours are more believable now and there's increased detail in the shadows; my only complaint is directed at some clipped highlights during the daylit climax. Alas, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is evidently the same as before and hasn't improved with age. The first movie's platter recycles the old BD's supplemental package while adding a couple of bonus features exclusive to this release, starting with two "Deleted Scenes" from Beverly Hills Cop totalling 4 minutes. In the first, Axel visits a Detroit mobster (character actor Ron Karabatsos) who advises him against pursuing Mikey's killers to Beverly Hills; in the second, Axel packs for his trip. What's interesting about these is that Murphy's effortlessly playing a serious side of Axel without airs of fatigue and depression. A 7-minute "Behind the Scenes" compilation unearths 1984 junket interviews with Murphy as well as Brest, who praises Eddie's ability to always get the writers out of a corner with his improv skills. (He compares the patchwork script to how things were done on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows".) Unlike the earlier extras, these are upscaled to HD, albeit framed within flashy borders. Updated for clarity: January 24, 2020.
- Beverly Hills Cop
105 minutes; 1.78:1 (1080p/MPEG-4); English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English DVS 5.1, English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0, Spanish DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0, Italian DD 2.0, German DD 2.0, Japanese DD 5.1; English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese subtitles; BD-50; Region-free; Paramount
- Beverly Hills Cop II
104 minutes; 2.35:1 (1080p/MPEG-4); English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0, Italian DD 5.1, German DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0; English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese subtitles; BD-50; Region-free; Paramount
- Beverly Hills Cop III
104 minutes; 1.78:1 (1080p/MPEG-4); English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0, Italian DD 5.1, German DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0; English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese subtitles; BD-50; Region-free; Paramount
ii As Leonard Maltin (or one of his anonymous contributors) wrote in his annual "Movie Guide": "All credibility goes out the window at the start when B.H. Captain Cox is seen talking to Murphy about a fishing trip. Are these the same characters we saw in the first film?"
iii That's two Beverly Hills Cop movies in a row that take pains to establish Axel's relationship with the pretty blonde is strictly platonic, incidentally; miscegenation was clearly a bridge too far. "[H]e transcended race the way Ali and Jordan did, and Will Smith does right now. We came to think of him as Eddie and Eddie only," wrote Bill Simmons in GRANTLAND in 2011. Sure, Bill. Whatever you say.
iv Where Baby Chris Rock is a valet!