'Crocodile Dundee' - An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City. 'Crocodile Dundee II' - Australian outback expert protects his New York love from gangsters who've followed her down under.
Back in 1986, when all most American moviegoers knew about Australia was that Great Britain sent their prisoners there in the 1700s and it was where Mad Max came from, a charming little import called 'Crocodile Dundee' hit movie screens. The film would go on to become the second biggest release in America that year, and the second biggest movie worldwide as well (only Top Gun brought in more at the box office).
I remember seeing 'Crocodile Dundee' at a sneak preview (rarely seen anymore, but studios actually used to have single 'sneak peek' viewings of movies a week or two before their release date – usually on a Saturday night) and found it to be delightful. Now almost 30 years later, I'm happy to report that the movie still retains its charm, although it seems even more simplistic than it did in 1986 – more a sign of how overly complex Hollywood makes their plots these days than any fault of this film.
The premise here is rather basic: New York newspaper reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) has heard about a man down in Australia reported to have lost half his leg battling off a crocodile, and gets permission from her editor (who is also her boyfriend), Richard (Mark Blum), to travel to the land down under and do a special interest story for the paper. When she gets there, she meets up with Michael J. 'Crocodile' Dundee (Paul Hogan), whose battle with the croc appears to be a little more exaggerated than she has heard, but who also carries a charm about him that's hard to resist – including some special skills having spent time with the Aboriginal tribes in the country's 'Outback'.
The first half of the movie takes place in Australia, at which point Sue decides to have Dundee come back to New York City with her. There, as they say, is where the fun begins, as the second half of the movie is basically a 'fish out of water' tale of this Australian native dealing with all the dangers and wonders of big city life.
Aside from Sue's New York boyfriend, who is rather rude to Dundee on a few occasions, there are no real bad guys in 'Crocodile Dundee'. Nor is there much of an effort by filmmakers to establish any kind of storyline thread throughout the picture. The movie basically consists of one new situation after the other that Dundee encounters in New York. Yet the movie works, and it's primarily due to Hogan, an Australian sketch comedian and actor, who was pretty much unknown outside his homeland before this movie came out.
Fans of the movie may want to take note that this Blu-ray contains the original international version of 'Crocodile Dundee', which is slightly shorter than the original Australian version, and dubs a street pimp's f-bomb with the word 'screw' during a New York City scene. However, other scenes, such as Dundee 'helping out' a coke addict at a party and a girl taking his cigarette because she thinks it's a joint (which were edited out in the UK release of the movie and some TV airings of the film), remain intact.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 Stars
Crocodile Dundee II
There's a philosophy in Hollywood that anytime a sequel is made, it must somehow be 'bigger' than the original film. This almost always results in the new movie losing the magic that led to the success of the first, and 'Crocodile Dundee II' is no exception to that rule.
While part of the first film's charm was its paper-thin plot, which was just enough to put the main character in various humorous situations, this time out – for whatever reason – the filmmakers decide to give us an overblown story that deals with dangerous drug dealers who first kidnap Sue and then (after Dundee has rescued her during the movie's first half) pursue both her and Dundee to the Outback of Australia, where they have retreated for safety.
Almost all the charm of the original film is gone, although – to be fair – Paul Hogan's character is still likable, just not as funny this time around. One would like to blame the screenplay and not the actor, however, in this case, Paul Hogan (and his son, Brett) are credited with the story. While the original 'Crocodile Dundee' holds up quite well, this sequel is definitely a movie of its time period – reflecting both the kinds of humor and action sequences that were prevalent in a lot of 80s movies.
The sequel is watchable, but it's not very memorable – although certainly more enjoyable than the third and final sequel in the series, 2001's 'Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles', which has not been included in this set (perhaps mercifully, as it drags the series down even further).
Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 Stars
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
The two 'Crocodile Dundee' films arrive on Blu-ray in an eco-friendly Elite keepcase. Fans will be happy to hear that instead of trying to cram both movies onto one disc, the films arrive separately on two individual 50GB dual-layer Blu-rays, with the original on the inside left of the box and the sequel on the right. Neither title is front-loaded with any trailers, and the menus are stills of the box cover artwork for each movie. Menu selections run across the bottom of the screen.
The transfer of 'Crocodile Dundee' is a mixed bag, although ultimately I think fans will be happy with the picture quality – not because it's stunning, but more because it hasn't been overly tinkered with. The movie retains its film-like appearance with little in terms of DNR, allowing for a healthy amount of grain to remain in each shot. No over-sharpening here either, which results in many scenes having a 'soft' look to them, but again, at least the result is a presentation that retains the look of film. There's still some noticeable instances of dirt on the print as well, as occasional flecks of white or black can be seen in the background of scenes, with the most noticeable occurring during the opening credits and/or during scenes set against a clear sky. Color timing and contrast are solid throughout and the film doesn't look oversaturated or overly bright.
One of the biggest problems is in terms of black crush, as it's almost impossible during nighttime scenes (particularly the ones set in Australia) to distinguish between blacks and other shadows. The amount of details that can be distinguished in each scene varies throughout (some scenes have intentional soft focus in the background – this is from the original film and not a problem with the transfer). The movie suffers from no noticeable problems with banding, artifacting, or other compression issues. Again, by no means a great transfer, but certainly a step up from DVD and one I think fans of the film will find acceptable.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Crocodile Dundee II
Usually transfers of sequels (unless the first film has gotten a special restoration) look better than their original counterparts, due primarily to the fact that the master used for the HD update is in better shape. However, 'Crocodile Dundee II' actually seems to look worse that the first movie, with all the problems the first film has, plus even more instances of dirt on the print throughout.
Black levels are pretty weak again, and the overall contrast seems a little too bright. Whites aren't completely blown out, but the overall picture doesn't look as film-like as the first movie did. Grain is present throughout once again, but this time it looks like some digital noise is creeping into the picture as well. Picture stabilization is also an issue – particularly during the opening credits – as the image will 'jitter' occasionally. Details are not as strong here as they were in the first movie, and – once again – there's an overall softness to a lot of the scenes – even more than on the Blu-ray of the original.
While the original film is better than its DVD counterpart, I'm not sure the second movie is that much of an improvement over the standard definition version.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Paramount offers up a lossless English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track for the original film. Usually, I wouldn’t get too excited about a stereo track (even a lossless one), but the audio for 'Crocodile Dundee' is fantastic. One of the gems of the movie is the great score by Peter Best (no, not the Beatles' former drummer – a different guy!), which sounds beautiful here, despite the two-speaker limitation. Also of note are how distinct the background sounds of the movie are – particularly in the first half of the film that takes place in Australia and one can hear all the wildlife in the background. Although everything is up-font, there's still plenty of enjoyment to be found in this track, which adds a lot to the movie-watching experience.
Dolby Digital Mono tracks are also available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Rating: 4 ½ out of 5 Stars
Crocodile Dundee II
The second film gets a full English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and like the audio of the first film, it's the most impressive thing about this new Blu-ray release. However, although the audio has additional channels to work with, there's not a ton of difference between the two tracks, as the rear speakers are only really noticeable when the movie's soundtrack kicks in. Also, unlike the first film, it seems as if the soundtrack is ever-so-slightly louder than the spoken word and not properly balanced with the volume of the dialogue. While there's not much in terms of directionality or immersiveness here, this is still a solid lossless track, with nothing in terms of dropouts or other glitches that I detected.
The other audio options consist of a 2.0 Dolby Digital French track, plus Dolby Digital Mono tracks in both Spanish and Portuguese. Once again, subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Crocodile Dundee II
I'm guessing there's more than a few fans of this series (or at least the first movie) that have been waiting for its release on Blu-ray. Sadly, there's not a whole lot here to get excited about. The quality of the transfer ranges from average to below average, and while the audio is well-done, the lack of extras are almost insulting. The original movie still holds up, while the sequel is watchable but nothing special. This one is for fans.