Quantcast

Dragnet – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

See, popular old television shows getting modern make-overs through a rebooted feature film and is nothing new. Its been going on for a long time, yet people make a complaint like they’re being fresh (“No original ideas any more, but I don’t go see or care for the zillions of original ideas that DO come out.”). Shout Select is bringing the Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks-led 1987 Dragnet update to Blu-ray for the very first time. This film made some good money at the box office upon release, but looking around I dunno if its super popular, but its gotta have some sort of cult base. Maybe its one that is in need of being returned to and reassessed. Looks like I’ll be tasked with that as I review this new collector’s edition that comes with a fresh new commentary and new interview with star Alexandra Paul. You can pick up a copy on October 30th to have Dragnet in time for…Halloween?

Film 

No-nonsense Los Angeles detective Sgt. Joe Friday is partnered with the wisecracking Pep Streebeck, a hip upstart cop, and the mismatched duo is ordered to investigate a strange series of ritual killings. Though Friday and Pep do their share of quarreling, they eventually trace the clues to an ominous cult, and the officers interrupt a violent ceremony. Friday then begins a romance with near-victim Connie Swail, but it could hinder his police work.

The 1980s attempt at a comedic feature film Dragnet is a really good concept, and works at times,  but overall comes across as a bit stale and struggles to stick out from any kind of pack. Everyone involved in it is terrific, but the script doesn’t take them anywhere interesting nor give them enough meat to chew on. The humor can hit very well or it can just induce a shrug. This is the kind of comedy that would really be enhanced with much more improv involved like a more modern film. Otherwise as is, its pretty blah with terrific performers and some good, key, notable humor moments.

First off, for those worried about the original series, this movie pretty much does love it. But, it also recognizes how it aged and felt in the eyes of pop culture over the years. The approach they’ve taken to the film is no different than what happened with 21 Jump Street, to compare it to something in more recent history. Except, that movie works a lot better. On paper, Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday and Tom Hanks as his new partner sounds like 8 grand slams. Its sells the movie on just those two paired together. And the two have good chemistry and are fire in their individual moments as well. Unfortunately, the material peters out and feels kind of 80s generic and stale in many of the in-betweens of bigger moments.

The film is a weird one to talk about, because overall, its not very good. However, there are some great moments in the film that still had me laughing big today. They aren’t abundant which is a shame, but when they hit they are killer. When the film opens up with the “The names have been changed to protect the innocent, for example…” I still laugh as its right at home with something you’d see in The Naked Gun. Another thing with the film is that overall Aykroyd is money and playing off of Hanks somewhat makes this watchable to the end. I suppose that is a bit of a triumph for both the performers and the film.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Dragnet makes its Blu-ray debut in a rock solid transfer from Shout! Factory. This one features a nice crisp look with decent color and depth. Details are pretty strong and pretty well visible. This one falls into the category of solid and standard Shout! Factory 1980s movie Blu-ray. Its not going to rock socks off, but its a fine performance and the best the film has ever looked.

Depth:  There are some good moments of distance in the depth of field with the background looking pretty well pushed back. Space is good all around and movements are smooth with little to not distortion issues during moments of rapid movement.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky with some good saturation. Most detail is retained in darkened frames and no crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are solid and lifelike throughout. Reds and greens come across a bit more bold than others.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from scene to scene in the film. When the Hanks goes to see Friday and his elderly guardian before dinner there is a tad bit of flicker for a moment. Facial details are pretty good from close ups to medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Dragnet comes with a decent stereo track that gives a solid presentation in the “gets the job done form”. Things aren’t as loose as you’d want, but it works. It isn’t as loose as it is, but none of the score, vocals or sound effects ever get in the way of one another. It can get louder and deeper in some unexpected and impressive ways at times. Overall, its primarily just fine.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are good, clear and audible. They are a bit more analog sounding, but not completely overtly so. It definitely sounds of its era.

Extras 

Dragnet – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original theatrical poster design.

Audio Commentary

  • By Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball

“A Quiet Evening in the Company of Connie Swail” (HD, 25:02) – An interview with co-star Alexandra Paul. She discusses having no familiarity with the source material before auditioning and not finding the script funny at all back then and that’s (Along with her innocence) may be why she got the part. She goes over her craft and working with all the notable players on the film.

“Just the Facts!”: A Promotional Look at Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks (SD, 45:59) – Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks host a look back at the history of Dragnet from radio to the many television iterations and the people who both created it and acted in it. And of course there’s a big behind the scenes of this movie in there as well.

Trailers & TV Spots (SD, 4:33) – 1 Trailer, 5 TV Spots

Summary 

Dragnet should be better than it is, but at best its mediocre with a couple laugh out loud moments. This Blu-ray edition for it has a pretty nice presentation. There’s a nice interview and commentary included as well as a lengthy vintage featurette people may have never seen. Some may actually like the film or there could be nostalgic curiosity abound. I would say watch it again before making a purchase. Also, we now have had 2 Tom Hanks movies from Shout! Factory in the last year, could we possible see He Knows You’re Alone in the near future, knowing they are doing Warner Bros titles now?

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

  1. No Comments