Warner Home Video presents
The Dead Pool: Deluxe Edition (1988)
“You want to play the game, you’d better know the rules, love.”- Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood)
Stars: Clint Eastwood
Other Stars: Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Evan Kim, Jim Carrey
Director: Buddy Van Horn
MPAA Rating: R for (adult language, violence)
Run Time: 01h:31m:03s
Release Date: 2008-06-03
DVD ReviewWhen anyone hears the name Clint Eastwood, chances are, the first thing that comes to mind is Dirty Harry Callahan. First appearing in the aptly titled Dirty Harry, this character eventually drove five films, the last of which is 1988’s The Dead Pool. With Eastwood reprising his role, and a nice and dreary title, everything seemed to be in place for a fitting end to a memorable franchise. Unfortunately, the film is rather disappointing compared to the rest, and wasn't successful during its theatrical run. Still, it’s always great to see Eastwood as Dirty Harry, and checking out Warner’s new The Dead Pool: Deluxe Edition is a great way to do just that.
Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) is called upon, yet again, to investigate a series of celebrity murders, while at the same time trying to avoid the numerous hits that have been put out on his life. Meanwhile, the department wants Callahan to kiss up to the press and take on a new partner, Al Quan (Evan Kim). The celebrity murders turn out to be the result of a unique betting game called “The Dead Pool,” which is led by British film director Peter Swan (Liam Neeson). Swan has made up the list that drives this game, but he denies doing any of the killings, leaving it up to Callahan, Quan, and reporter Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) to find out if he’s really telling the truth.
Those of you looking for the take-no-prisoners grit of the first four Dirty Harry movies aren’t going to get that here. Despite plenty of violence, especially during the opening sequence, this is a far more light-hearted affair. Things aren’t all cute bears and good tidings, but Eastwood spends a bit too much time spewing tongue-in-cheek dialogue to please the die-hard fans of the franchise. There’s also none of the political or social undertones that added just the right amount of dramatic depth to the earlier films. Musing about the problems that come with fame is as deep as we get here, and even those thoughts are in place as the byproduct of a major plot device.
As a die-hard Jim Carrey fan, I was somewhat ashamed that I had forgotten about his cameo here. And boy, what a cameo it is, as we first see him (barely) dressed in Goth clothes and lip-synching Guns N’ Roses' Welcome to the Jungle while shooting a music video that could be an outtake from The Exorcist. After that, we see Jim doing his “rubberface” best to depict someone dying of a massive drug overdose. As strange as this early appearance is, it’s even stranger that it serves, in retrospect, as a microcosm of Carrey’s long, illustrious career.
I have a much harder time with The Dead Pool now than I did when I saw it in a theater at the age of 12. Back then, it was my first Dirty Harry movie and I had nothing to compare it to, left to sit there and revel in the violence, adult language, and, most importantly, “R” rating. Twenty years later, I’ve seen all of Eastwood’s work as Callahan, and this is far from the most satisfying ending to the series. Still, it’s difficult to argue that ending things with such a gloriously fun mess of a movie was the wrong decision. After the recent Rocky and Rambo revivals, here’s hoping that The Dead Pool is indeed the last time we’ll see Callahan, unless we get a new movie where he fends off medical insurance agents in his retirement home.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The film is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, and this transfer is top-notch. The images are sharp and exquisitely detailed, with a bright, vivid color scheme that’s nicely rendered and free from bleeding or other defects. Much of the film takes place at night and blacks and shadow levels are well-handled. There is some grain and dirt, but those aren’t entirely unexpected from a 20-year-old film.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
|DS 2.0||French, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: The best choice, audio-wise, is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is well-mixed and nicely dynamic. The surrounds are used quite a bit during the action scenes, with just enough bass to add some oomph to the proceedings. Dialogue is always crystal clear, blending in perfectly with the music and other sound effects.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jack N. Green and David Valdes
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The extras include a commentary track by cinematographer Jack N. Green and producer David Valdes. This pair talks quite a bit about what it was like to shoot the film in San Francisco, but they also find enough time to talk about working with Eastwood, and to tell some very funny stories from the set.
The Craft of Dirty Harry takes a 21-minute look at many of the forgotten talents behind the Dirty Harry movies, including the editors, cinematographers, and production designers.
There’s also a trailer gallery that features five theatrical trailers, including the one for The Dead Pool.
Extras Grade: C+
Final CommentsIt’s a given that fans of the Dirty Harry films will want to make their collection complete withThe Dead Pool: Deluxe Edition DVD. Non-fans should give this goofy piece of action cinema a look as well, because there’s nowhere else you’re going to see Eastwood reprise his most memorable character, Liam Neeson play a smug director who just may be a killer, Patricia Clarkson as a smarmy reporter, and, best yet, Jim Carrey as a lip-synching, crazed drug addict. Warner gives us this new disc as part of their re-releases of the Dirty Harry films, and they’ve done so in grand fashion, with excellent audio and video, along with solid extras.
Chuck Aliaga 2008-06-10