Lies on DVD
by Jim Bray
James Cameron's "True
Lies" is an action adventure/comedy/romance that pairs Arnold Schwarzenegger
and Jamie Lee Curtis as a long-married couple that not only doesn't communicate,
they barely seem to be on the same planet.
That's because, since
before Harry (Schwarzenegger) and Helen (Curtis) Tasker met, Harry has
been a member of the Omega Sector, a super-secret spy organization bent
on making America safe for America.
Harry just can't keep
a date with his wife and daughter, because assorted bad guys and gals
keep rearing their ugly heads and he's forced after them, leaving Helen
and young Dana home to twist in the wind.
Fed up, Helen decides
she needs a bit of excitement in her bland existence, and this leads eventually
to her and Harry being thrown together to fight some terrorists who've
stolen some nuclear weapons and are going to use them on selected US cities.
The good guys eventually
win, Harry and Helen's marriage is renewed, and everyone ends up happy
except for the terrorists (who have it coming, anyway).
Tom Arnold give a
terrific performance as Harry's sidekick, and he's responsible for a lot
of the film's generous doses of comedy relief. Arnold is a really underrated
performer, and it's a shame his career hasn't been more successful. Charlton
Heston is beautifully cast as the head of Omega Sector, someone intimidating
enough to cow even Arnold Schwarzenegger.
James Cameron's famed
attention to detail is all over this film (how often does James Bond have
to pause to reload?) and the stunts and special effects are spectacular.
Digital Domain (Cameron and Stan Winston's special effects company) provides
some of the best matte shots ever (at least until "Star Wars Episode
One"), putting cast in peril atop a Miami high-rise with nary a matte
line in sight.
The widescreen 20th
Century Fox DVD is of very good quality, though it looks like a straight
transfer from the original laserdisc release - and worse still it isn't
anamorphic! That's not a completely bad thing, however, because it received
Lucasfilm's THX treatment back then and was one of the first (if not the
first) laserdiscs released in Dolby Digital AC-3 sound. But it needs to
be 16x9 TV compatible!
Picture quality is
excellent, though a bit soft in places, and the audio is also excellent.
Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, Fox decided to make the film default
to Dolby Pro Logic sound, so you if you want to take advantage of the
superior Dolby Digital soundtrack you have to switch it on from the main
You don't get much
in the way of extras on this DVD, either. There's the theatrical trailer
and chapter access, but other than that there's only yet another fancy
but timewasting animated menu and the various language choices. Liner
notes are restricted to a chapter listing and a few small stills.
I don't know if there's
a bunch of extra footage laying around, as there is so often with James
Cameron films, but there are no "Director's Cut" extras like
there are with Aliens and T2.
Still, True Lies is
a ripping yarn that, while it goes on a bit long regarding Harry and Helen's
marriage troubles, is a must see for Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and James
Bond movie fans.
True Lies, from 20th
Century Fox, 141 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Tia Carrere,
Art Malik, Bill Paxton, and Charlton Heston
Written by James
Cameron, Adapted from a screenplay by Claude Didl, Simon Michael and Didier
Kaminka, Produced by James Cameron and Stephanie Austin Directed by James
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