Oh the cheese!
'Over the Top' is a film about a dad, his estranged son, and how they learn to love each other, in the midst of adversity, a greedy rich grandpa, and the Armwrestling World Championships.
Lincoln Hawk (Stallone) is looking to reconnect with the son he left years ago to chase a dream of driving a big-rig and armwrestle big, hairy, sweaty men. Lincoln's son Michael has grown up with his wealthy grandpa, and has just finished military school. With his wife dying, Lincoln is sent to pick up his son at his graduation and drive him back home in hopes that they may rekindle their relationship.
How to rate 'Over the Top?' On one hand it's so outlandishly stupid, and the script is so poorly written, that it demands low scores (thumb down?), but on the other hand its silly story and corny dialogue will have you rolling on the floor with laughter (thumbs up?).
It's made in typical 80s fashion, with plenty of synthesized music for the soundtrack and a plethora of montages peppered throughout. When Lincoln finally gets to the Armwrestling Championship we are treated to numerous shots of men who appear to not have bathed in weeks. One of them drinks a can of motor oil and eats an entire cigar while it's still lit. You'll find yourself shaking your head in disgust, even while you're laughing at the absurdity of it all.
During the armwrestling scenes, the movie inexplicably interviews some of the contestants. When it's Lincoln's turn he simply says "When I turn the hat around it's like a switch," and when that switch is turned, people better look out.
The film is just so ridiculous that it's hard not to be charmed by it. It's one of those movies you might see on Spike TV on a Saturday afternoon. Why it got a Blu-ray release right now is anybody's guess as I'm sure it's not high on a lot of people's want lists.
There's something to be said for cheesy movies that can keep you entertained with sheer silliness. 'Over the Top' is one of those films. You won't watch this for the visceral cinematic experience, it's best approached as fodder for 'Mystery Science Theater'-style riffing with your friends.
The 1080p transfer of 'Over the Top' brings the movie into a whole new realm of clarity. Taking into account the age of the source material, we're looking at a fairly strong transfer. Fine detail, for the most part, looks great. Detail goes soft on some of the scenes at that Armwrestling Championship, but otherwise we're treated to a healthy dose of consistent detail. The transfer does have its share of problems when it comes to errant dirt specks and scratches, but overall Warner seems to have spent a lot of time giving this transfer the right treatment. Blacks do hover from inky to slightly lighter tones. Flesh tones appear consistent throughout the film (Sly is one tan man, but Robert Loggia looks like he spent the last few years in a tanning booth). This is a fine transfer for a film from the 80s. It isn't over the top (har har), but it's solid and well handled.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is slightly less impressive than its video counterpart. The dialogue is presented clearly for the most part. The rear channels, however, feature a slim helping of ambient sounds to produce that enveloping feeling we're looking for. There are a few scenes, like the contest at the end, and a bar scene, in which light ambience is heard. The 80s montage music is provided an adequate stage, but doesn't show off an HD sound system's capabilities at all. LFE rumbles when Lincoln crashes his truck through a gate, and when cars slam together during a short chase scene. It's a decent soundtrack, but it won't overly impress anyone.
Well, you can't have it all. The only feature on this Blu-ray is a SD trailer for the movie.
'Over the Top' is a laugh riot with a good heart. It's not so excruciatingly bad that you'll hate yourself for watching it, it's just ridiculous enough to love. It's a fantastic film for a movie night with a bunch of friends. It may be made even better with alcohol, that's your call though. I enjoyed the cheesiness of 'Over the Top,' but its middle-of-the-road video and audio really only warrant a rental.