Featured Blu-ray review: Crocodile Dundee / Crocodile Dundee II
May 12th, 2014
Before I say anything about this Blu-ray... Crocodile Dundee is a trilogy. It is a trilogy, but they are releasing just the first two films. That's a big slight. The first Crocodile Dundee cost less than $10 million, but it made more than $300 million worldwide in 1986. Just two years later, Crocodile Dundee 2 came out, and while it made nearly $100 million less worldwide, it was still a huge hit. Nearly 30 years later, these two films are coming out on a two-disc Blu-ray set. Has it aged well? Will fans of the films want to pick it up?
The plot summary will be short, for two reasons. Firstly, I have two movies to get through and I don't want the review to be too long. Secondly, it is a romantic comedy. I could describe the two main leads and their meet cute and that's really all you need to know for a romantic comedy.
We are first introduced to Sue Charlton, or to be more accurate, we are first introduced to Sue's boss, Richard Mason. Sue is a writer and Richard's not happy with her work output. She's doing too much of it and as her boyfriend, he misses her. She's been in Australia for a while and she's got a lead on a big story. A guy gets attacked by a crocodile and loses his leg, but still manages to crawl 100 miles to civilization, get's patched up, and leaves again. She's tracked him down and has a chance to interview him.
First Sue meets his business partner, Walter Reilly. Turns out Walter may have exaggerated his story for publicity purposes. The real guy, Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee, was attacked and received a nasty scar, but didn't lose the leg. It's a bit of a disappointing start to her story, but it gets worse when "Crocodile" Dundee tries to hit on her. The next day, the three of them take a ride to where the attack happened, and to conduct an interview. While in the Australian Outback... spoilers happen. But eventually Sue returns to New York, with "Crocodile" Dundee, where... more spoilers happen.
Crocodile Dundee is a romantic comedy and a culture clash comedy, both with Sue going to the Australian outback and "Crocodile" Dundee going to New York City. It pulls from the collective clichés of both genres, but rising above the usual quality level for three reasons. Firstly, the chemistry between Linda Kozlowski and Paul Hogan is excellent. Without this chemistry, this would have been a weak movie. Secondly, the filmmakers used the Australian locations really well. This was arguably the first Australian film to have breakout success internationally (although you could argue the same for The Man from Snowy River) and it is a great introduction into the Australian Outback. Finally, they didn't go for the easy, "City bad. Country good." message. If city life is so bad, why do so many people live there?
It has been a while since I've seen the movie, but it lived up to my memories.
The only extra is a theatrical trailer, which I don't consider to be a trailer. Also, this is the international version of the movie, not the longer Australian version.
As for the technical presentation, it's good, given its age and budget. The brightly lit scenes have good level of details, strong colors, and contrast. However, darker scenes suffer and the overall quality is only average. There are no signs of digital manipulation, but also no signs of remastering either. It is showing its age. As for the audio... its 2.0. The dialogue is clear, but I was expecting something in the surround sound speakers, so a 2.0 track is really disappointing.
The sequel begins with "Crocodile" Dundee fishing with dynamite in New York waters, which is illegal, but the cops let him off because he's "Crocodile" Dundee. Sue and him are married and she has been writing about him making him a bit of a celebrity. However, he's not entirely happy. He wants to get a job. He gets a job offer from Leroy Brown, who dressing and acts like a drug dealer, but actually sells office supplies. He just likes it when people think he's a bad dude.
Meanwhile, we learn about Sue's ex-husband, Bob Tanner, who is an investigative reporter who works in Central and South America. He's spying in on a Columbian drug cartel. He is able to catch the leader, Luis Rico, killing someone and take about a dozen photographs, but he's spotted. He sends the film to Sue, but is killed shortly afterward. Worse still, they listened into his phone conversation and know he sent the film to Sue and travel to New York to get it. They are able to easily get her, but unbeknownst to them, "Crocodile" Dundee has the film (he grabbed the mail) and after a few runs in with a cop and a couple of the gang members, "Crocodile" Dundee is able to rescue Sue getting Rico arrested in the process.
I don't understand Crocodile Dundee II. They took a fun culture clash romantic comedy and turned it into a thriller about a drug cartel trying to kill our main characters. That's a pretty big change in tone and it also doesn't work. The humor and the charm of the first movie is missing. Unfortunately, they are not even replaced with top-notch action. First of all, the action scenes are too few and the parts between are too slow for the film to work as an action flick. The action scenes we do see are serviceable, but that's hardly a compliment. It just feels so unnecessary.
The only extra on the second Blu-ray is a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.
The technical presentation this time around feels slightly worse than the first time, which is odd because this one is a little newer and was more expensive to make. The film has a softer image most of the time and there are some edge enhancements that stand out in a bad way. That said, the audio is better, which should come as no surprise as they used a 5.1 surround sound track this time around.
Crocodile Dundee is a great film and is still funny nearly 30 years later. Crocodile Dundee II was eviscerated by critics and hasn't gotten better with age. There are almost no extras on the 2-Disc Blu-ray Pack and the technical presentation is weak. That said, $19 isn't a bad deal for two movies.
Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee 2