One of what seems like several action franchises in the 80's, "Beverly Hills Cop" was one of the most successful comedies of all time. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, this time joined by "Top Gun" director Tony Scott, have apparently gone in with the idea of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." While the elements of the original picture and the energy of Eddie Murphy can take a second picture so far, it's not quite enough to make a particularly interesting sequel.
Murphy returns as Detroit police officer Axel Foley, who finds out that LA Captain Andrew Bogomil (Ronny Cox) has been shot because he was closing in on information that he wasn't supposed to see. It's up to John Ashton and Judge Reinhold, as the two Beverly Hills officer Taggart and Rosewood to work with Foley and solve the case. This time, there's something about gun smuggling, I believe - the film seems more concerned with providing showcase sequences for Murphy to do his thing, and he does it well. There are several moments where Murphy obviously improvised or had a hand in writing the sequence and it shows - while not all of these are successfully funny, a few of them get a solid laugh.
Thankfully, while it's fun to see Murphy's intense and amusing performance, the focus does shift often enough to the less-frantic Reinhold and Ashton characters. Reinhold's performance is good enough to make one pause and wonder if he really deserves to be in nearly every one of the "Beethoven" sequels. Paul Reiser appears, as well, likely doing this in-between the seemingly endless seasons of "Mad About You". Also, look for Chris Rock in a small early role as a parking attendant.
The opening half of the film coasts along fairly well, but there's something entirely predictable about the entire enterprise that makes it less thrilling than it should be. There's all the staples of 80's action, including the commanding officer who yells at our hero. Murphy's energy carries the picture through most of the slow spots, but the film's action sequences seem fairly standard and there's a point where it starts too seem like a long road from point A to point B. It's certainly not a bad film or sequel, but it just never catches on as solidly as it should, given the talent involved.
VIDEO: Paramount presents "Beverly Hills Cop II" in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The look and feel of the picture is considerably different than the first film. The first film was directed by Martin Brest; the second film was directed by Tony Scott and clearly has a slicker visual style, assisted by ace cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball, whose terrific work has recently been seen in "Stigmata" and "Mission Impossible: 2". This film also boasts the usual additional stylistic touches of a film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer - rich, deep sunshine that seems as if it's about to swallow the landscape in their amber hues. As for the general thoughts about how this presentation looks, it's a very nice effort from Paramount. Sharpness and detail are excellent and the picture looks consistently well-defined and crisp, even in dimly lit sequences.
The main problem - and it occasionally becomes a slightly irritating one - is that mild edge enhancement is visible, if infrequently. A bit of grain is seen here and there, but I really didn't find it that big of a problem. The print used is quite clean, as well; I noticed a few specks here and there, but nothing more than that.
Colors had to be the most impressive part of the presentation; they appeared wonderfully well-saturated and strong throughout the picture, with no smearing or other flaws. Flesh tones remained accurate and natural,as well. While not flawless, this is still quite a nice effort.
SOUND: "Beverly Hills Cop II" has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 by Paramount. The results are generally very good, considering this movie is now fourteen years of age. The score, which is just on that border between being and not being very 80's, is the main element which benefits from the new 5.1 presentation, as it really fills the room quite nicely. Some of the action sequences also have the surrounds carrying the effects, but a good deal of the audio is rooted in the front speakers. Audio quality is solid, as that memorable theme music comes through crisply, while dialogue also remains clear. Sound effects can be a little rough at times, but otherwise, this is a fine presentation.
MENUS: Animated main and sub-menus that are rather subtle, but still a nice introduction to the movie.
Cast and Crew Interviews: Some have been somewhat dissapointed by these supplemental interviews that Paramount has included on previous releases, but they've gotten better and better. Instead of another rehash of the promotional featurette where we hear about the story and characters, they have begun to focus more on the actual production and providing substancial information. This was one of the better of these featurettes that I've seen, as actor Judge Reinhold, producer Bruckheimer, director Scott and others discuss the development of the sequel and how Scott brought his own touches to this sequel. We learn more about the director's filmmaking style and hear more about some of the story elements that were considered.
Deleted Scene: A deleted scene from the film, with introduction by director Tony Scott.
"Shakedown" Featurette: This is a featurette about the artists who provided "Shakedown", which became a hit around the time of release.
Also: The film's trailer and original behind-the-scenes featurette.
Final Thoughts: "Beverly Hills Cop II" is a fair sequel. There are some great moments, but much of it seems rather routine or too much of a rehash of the original. Still, Paramount has provided a very nice DVD, complete with strong audio/video and a nice, if not exceptional, batch of supplements.
The Film ** 1/2
Video 89/B+ = (356/400 possible points)
Audio: 87/B = (352/400 possible points)
Extras: 75/C = (225/300 possible points)
Menus: 85/B = (170/200 possible points)
Value: 82/B = (246/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: ** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B