DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Police Academy - 20th Anniversary Special Edition.

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    Police Academy – 20th Anniversary Special Edition

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1984
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 96 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD Mono
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Snap Case

    The Feature:
    2004 marks the 20th anniversary of the original Police Academy film resulting in six subsequent sequels and would go on to be one of the most profitable film franchises of Warner Brothers. While I wasn’t surprised to hear they were releasing a 20th Anniversary Edition, I was surprised to hear that six sequels did exist, all of which are being released individually or as a boxed set and contain the original film as well as PA 2 – Their First Assignment (1985), PA 3 – Back In Training (1986), PA 4 – Citizens On Patrol (1987), PA 5 – Assignment: Miami Beach (1988), PA 6 – City Under Siege (1989) and PA 7 – Mission To Moscow (1994). The boxed set retails for $59.98 but beware, two of the films from the set are presented in a MAR’d presentation.

    There is an announcement by the mayor that many of the police hiring regulations in place will no longer be enforced and the flood gates are opened thereby eliminating any factors that would otherwise discriminate and eliminate certain applicants. Much to the chagrin of the instructors, issues such as gender, weight, height and intelligence will no longer be a factor for joining the Force. This opens the way for many diverse applicants to enter the Police Academy. However, the instructors have been ordered to weed out as many bad apples as possible – will there be anyone left…?

    There’s no doubt, part of the appeal of this film was the brilliant casting albeit, most of the characters are one dimensional. You’d never believe they were able to put together an ensemble class of likeable but incompetent miscreants than these guys and gals (actually yes, yes I would, but that’s another story…). Heading the recruit class is Cadet Carey Mahoney, played by Steve Guttenberg. Although he’s not thought of as a dramatic (or comedic for that matter) powerhouse, he was in part, responsible for some of the most lucrative film franchises to come out of Hollywood of the decade. Starring in the popular film franchises such as Police Academy, Cocoon, Three Men And A Baby and Short Circuit, he helped bring their respective studio’s hoards of profits.

    The film also features Cadet Karen Thompson (starring the sexy Kim Cattrall), no nonsense Cadet Hightower (starring Bubba Smith), Cadet Larvell Jones (played by Michael Winslow who specialized in many of the great sound effects), the gun loving Cadet Tackleberry (played by David Graf who passed away in 2001). The two responsible for running the Academy were Lt. Harris (played by G.W. Bailey) and Commandant Eric Lassard (played by George Gaynes).

    The film (which was shot mostly in Toronto, Canada and included a couple of scenes which were shot right here in Hamilton) was directed by Hugh Wilson who was co-creator as well as executive producer for WKRP In Cincinnati. Regardless of where you place on the cinéaste band of the totem pole, everyone needs some mindless fun every now and then and there’s no doubt that any of the Police Academy films qualify.

    The video presentation for this special edition is generally pleasing, although I would have preferred an image with greater sharpness. For the most part, the image detail is slightly soft throughout. There are occasional instances of sharp detail but unfortunately, they are not the norm. That’s not to say the image isn’t satisfactory, it’s just that the film isn’t really that old and I would have preferred a more defined look to the detail.

    Colors were mostly bright and on the vivid side, perhaps even being slightly over saturated at times. Skin tones had a tendency to take on the “high blood pressure” look with a red push. Blacks were deep as was demonstrated by the uniforms the cadets were wearing and equally impressive were the whites, always showing crisp and stark.

    There is just a hint of fine film grain and the print was mostly clean of any dirt or debris. I did observe some slight light shimmer which occurred sporadically. Thankfully, there was very little evidence of any compression issues and edge enhancement was kept to an absolute minimum.

    I would have preferred an image just slightly sharper than this but admit, I have very little to complain about.

    Not a lot of news to report when it comes to the audio portion of this disc. While the inclusion of the original audio track is a must, surprisingly, the original DD Mono track is the only track that is offered (and I only say “surprisingly” in light of the many films that seem to get revamped or upgraded audio tracks and this one didn’t and probably would have been one to beg for such a track).

    As we would expect for a police training movie, there are plenty of gunshots but unfortunately the track is wafer thin so we’re left with a rather anemic sounding track – certainly that’s the case with the gun shots. There is very little dynamic range to speak of, although much of the music sounds better than one might anticipate when it does kick in. There really is nothing at the lower end of the scale and the track lacks any oomph.

    Dialogue was always clear and bold remaining intelligible. There was a slight (ever so slight – that might even have been accentuated by my electrostats) hiss that was present only occasionally – but it was extremely slight.

    The track does what it needs to but never exceeds any expectations.

    Special Features:
    The disc isn’t loaded with special features but it does contain a couple of features starting with:
    [*] A Commentary with Hugh Wilson, producer Paul Malansky and cast members Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook, G.W. Bailey and Michael Winslow which quickly goes from being informative to a “high five” session, praising everyone with superlatives. There are some tidbits gleaned throughout but I question its 96 minute duration as it quickly seems to overstay its welcome.
    [*] Behind Academy Doors: Secret Files Revealed is a decent little featurette highlighting many of the cast members’ fondest memories of the film. Most of the original cast is featured. Director Hugh Wilson is also shown recounting the original idea for the film and how it all came together including the casting. It’s obvious these guys had a lot of fun doing this. This little feature outweighs the commentary, by far. Duration: 30:22 minutes.
    [*] Lastly, the Theatrical Trailer is included.

    Final Thoughts:
    I suspect the majority of fans will be interested (at least primarily) in the first film. If you’re a fan of the entire series, you might want to consider the boxed set although that might be a tough sell for many in light of PA - Citizens On Patrol and PA - Assignment: Miami Beach both being MAR fullscreen (open matte) transfers. However, it certainly cuts down on the retail price if you’re interested in a few of the films.

    It had been a long time since I’d seen this film and admittedly, and I’m still amazed and bewildered as to the loyal fanbase the franchise seems to have, but there is no denying the film (at least the feature film) has its share of funny moments. Fans of the original film should be reasonably pleased.

    Release Date: April 6th, 2004
  2. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    thnaks for the review and I will only pick up PA 20th Anniversary SE

  3. Jeff D Han

    Jeff D Han Supporting Actor

    Mar 2, 2003
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    Thanks Herb.[​IMG]

    I'm definitely getting the first and second
    films- I had to upgrade the foolscreen version
    of the first, and I like the second film the best.
    I didn't know that David Graf passed away.[​IMG]
  4. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

    Jan 11, 2002
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  5. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Best moment in the documentary: Remembering the debate over whether the podium scene went "too far". Given how film comedy has since developed, that kind of concern about where to draw the line is touching -- and almost quaint.

  6. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    Leslie Easterbrook.:b
  7. Ric Bagoly

    Ric Bagoly Producer

    Aug 1, 2002
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    This + Part 2 = MINE

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