20th Century Fox/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 135 mins .
M15+ . PAL
His and hers evil terrorists
Mention the name James Cameron and thoughts immeadiately turn to Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Abyss, Titanic and True Lies. Isn't that the kind of list you'd like to be credited for? He has singlehandedly, and with his infamous trait of perfectionism, crafted some of the best action and sci-fi movies of our time, with True Lies arguably being the best action movie of the past decade, or even longer.
When Cameron and Schwarzenegger teamed up for the third time, after Terminator and T2, the expectations for the big budget spy flick soared as high as the budget, a then record for a movie of supposedly $200 million. To the harshest critics those expectations weren't met, but to those action fans wanting something 'special' from the Cam/Schwarz camp, they got that and more. Action aside, the comedic side of Schwarzenegger, teamed up with sidekick Tom Arnold and clumsy wife Jamie Lee Curtis, pays dividends and brings a down to earth charm to Harry Tasker when he's not needed to take on an army of terrorists.
A remake of the 1991 french film, La Totale, but not giving credit to it, True Lies is the story of Harry Tasker (Arnold), a spy/agent for the NSA, working to rid the world of terrorists and keep the old US of A free. Unbeknownst to his wife of 15 years, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), he's off on adventure after adventure while she thinks he's a computer salesman. When Harry and Gib (Tom Arnold) stumble across a plot to bring nuclear warheads into America for a terrorist attack, the duo set out to foil their plans.
Meanwhile, Helen is living a boring life at home while her husband is off galavanting around the world. She needs some release and finds it in Simon (Bill Paxton), a used car salesman using his spy 'angle' to get laid. When Harry finds out his wife is having many a rendezvous with said salesman, he uses every NSA tool at his disposal to keep tabs on his wife. Things go from bad to worse when the duo are kidnapped in mid 'realisation' of the others extra curricular activities. From there it's non-stop mayhem all the way to the climactic ending that will leave you glued to the screen until the last missile is fired.
This movie may require suspension of disbelief, but when it comes to James Cameron it's not hard to put plausibiliy past him. No matter what size horse, it will fit in an elevator, no matter how far two buildings are apart, you can jump to the other with the aid of a motorbike and no matter the budget, you can afford to hire out two Harrier jets to play with. Nobody blows up bridges like James Cameron.
Having experienced the reference quality laserdisc transfer for years, the expectation of DVD's increased detail and richness was crushed when the region 1 release sported an analog looking, edge enhanced rehash of the laserdisc master as their prime source material of choice. The delay to get this release to the region 4 market gave hope to fans like yours truly that a new master was in the works. The results? An excellent image that shows off the movie like never before.
"Hey, because it's YOU!"
Filmed in 1994 using Super 35, Cameron applied his trademark cropping to produce the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The resultant anamorphic transfer looks as good as you're going to get for such a choice of filming. Sharpness is excellent, shadow detail is perfect, flesh tones are consistent from scene to scene even if some scenes are intentionally richer.
This is what the movie should look like and puts the non-anamorphic region 1 DVD to shame. There is a marked improvement for those wondering if differences would be noticeable or not. We have a clear winner for region 4 here.
In the laserdisc world, the 5.1 soundtrack was considered one of the best around and it still stacks up well in comparison to recent blockbusters. The sound is a big as Arnie himself with some deep thunderous bass in the "insert expensive exploding prop(s) here" scenes and directionality goes crazy with an uncanny amount of gunfire going off in all directions.
Trademark James Cameron
Dialogue is clear throughout, which is a must as the leads deliver some classic one liners, the heights of which haven't been reached in a while.
"Denial - it's not just a
river in Egypt anymore..."
Furthermore, the soundtrack by Brad Friedel is up to the standard of his previous efforts with Cameron where he provided the dramatic scores for Terminator and T2.
Not much can be said about extras for True Lies as history has shown there has only ever been a trailer available on laserdisc, region 1 DVD and now region 4. That aside, the possibilities for a fully fledged special edition aren't obvious outside of two cuts from the trailer showing Harry getting intimate with Juno Skinner by a fireplace. A deleted scene this may be, but I wouldn't be expecting a director's cut; that would have been done by now.
Columbia Tristar have provided a picture disc, hardly an extra and more required by default, and they have also provided a shiny red foil border on the slick, in the same style as Charlie's Angels and Close Encounters. Now this does give the DVD some class and collectability.
If Looks could kill
It's a winner. This is easily Arnie's best work outside of being a living prop for Cameron's Terminators. Long time fans know what to expect when watching this movie and those of you who have let the critics decide for you better think again, leave your brain at the door, strap yourself in, dim the lights, turn the volume way up and enjoy a true classic of modern action and mayhem.
Whilst not chock full of extras, the movie itself is a must have for any collection and thus receives GOLD status. Extremely highly recommended.