Commando appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though 80s movies often present drab visuals, this one actually looked pretty positive.
Sharpness usually came across well. Some wide shots tended to be a bit soft, but those examples didn’t occur with any frequency. Most of the movie showed nice delineation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws were essentially non-existent. I noticed a couple of specks at most, for the majority of the film seemed clean and fresh.
As I alluded earlier, 80s movies often suffer from flat colors, but that wasn’t much of an issue with Commando. Some interiors looked a little bland and murky, but they usually came across as pretty natural and lively. Blacks were reasonably dense and dark, while shadows showed acceptable clarity and definition. Though this wasn’t a stunning transfer, it lacked significant issues and earned a “B”.
Although also dated, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Commando seemed fine when I considered the film’s age. Audio quality was the main minor disappointment, as the mix didn’t show a great deal of dynamic range. In particular, the score came across as somewhat wan and lackluster; the music could’ve used more punch. Effects suffered from a little distortion and lacked great definition, but they offered some pop during louder segments and usually sounded acceptably accurate. Speech was fairly natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns.
I thought the soundfield managed to bring the action to life in a pretty positive manner. The forward spectrum showed good imaging, as the various effects were reasonably well localized and placed. Movement was a little less solid, but I still thought the pieces merged together in a good way. Music showed solid stereo spread as well. Surround usage wasn’t exceptional but it satisfied. The surrounds helped reinforce the action and added some oomph to the program. Overall, the audio had its ups and downs but was good enough for a “B”.
We get a mix of extras here that start with an audio commentary from director Mark L. Lester. He provides a running, screen-specific track. He tells us a little about locations, stunts and action, cast and performances, script issues and a few other notes.
When I say Lester tells us a little, I mean it. The director chimes in somewhat infrequently and never really digs into the movie. This makes for a forgettable discussion. Lester goes over basics but not much more. Though he does become chattier as the film progresses, he never turns this into an interesting track.
Two featurettes follow. Pure Action goes for 15 minutes, six seconds as it presents movie clips, archival materials and comments from Lester, writers Joseph Loeb III and Steven E. De Souza, and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger (in 1985), Rae Dawn Chong, Bill Duke, and Vernon Wells. “Action” provides some notes about script development, Lester’s approach to the film and its tone, cast and characters, and the flick’s legacy.
Like Lester’s commentary, “Action” occasionally touches on some good information, but it meanders too much. We see a lot of movie clips and don’t find as many useful details as I’d like. Still, it’s better than the commentary, as at least it throws out a decent array of moderately interesting bits.
Let Off Some Steam fills seven minutes, seven seconds with notes from Chong, De Souza, Wells, and Schwarzenegger (still from 1985). “Steam” looks at the movie’s many quips and some general thoughts like working with Arnie and whether or not Bennett was gay. It’s a light view of the flick as it provides minor fun.
Added Footage includes four pieces: “Alternate Line from Jenny” (0:45), “Alternate Line Between Matrix and Cindy” (3:08), “Matrix Discusses Raising His Daughter” (2:09) and “Extended Tool Shed Fight” (0:46). Note that the “Added Footage” area appears only if you click on the “Theatrical Version”, since the tidbits were placed into the Director’s Cut. Because I only watched the Director’s Cut, I can’t comment on the changes, but it’s nice to know that folks who prefer to watch the original theatrical edition can still check out the extended/altered parts.
We also locate three Deleted Scenes that run a total of two minutes, 52 seconds. We get “Mall Aftermath” (1:28), “Freeze!” (0:48) and “Bennett’s Death” (0:42). “Mall” shows General Kirby as he restates the plot of the movie; given the simplicity of the story, I don’t know what purpose it would’ve served. “Freeze” just shows Matrix and Jenny at the flick’s end; it adds nothing. Finally, “Death” gives us a few alternate lines to accompany Bennett’s demise.
Next we find some Still Galleries. They break into four areas and are presented as running slideshows: “Creating Commando” (2:33), “Domestic Bliss with John and Jenny” (1:03), “Kill, Arnold, Kill!” (2:53) and “Trashing the Galleria” (0:30). I don’t like the presentation, as you can’t skip through the photos, but the pictures themselves are pretty good. The disc also gives us a four-page booklet. It throws in some minor production notes and bits of trivia.
The DVD opens with an ad for Wall Street. No trailer for Commando appears here.
Would I call Commando the worst of the 80s action flicks? No, but right now I find it tough to think of any crummier efforts. Stiff, awkward, cheesy and idiotic, the film exists to pour on mindless mayhem. It lacks any form of drama or cleverness, but it sure does pile on the kills! The DVD presents pretty good picture and audio as well as a smattering of passable extras. Fans will likely dig this package, but I can’t find much entertainment in this sub-moronic cheese.