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Charles Russell
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn, James Caan, Robert Pastorelli
Writing Credits:
Tony Puryear and Walon Green

He will erase your past to protect your future.

A Witness Protection specialist becomes suspicious of his co-workers when dealing with a case involving high-tech weapons.

Box Office:
$100 million
Opening Weekend
$24,566,446 on 2410 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $5.97
Release Date: 3/26/1997

• Cast Listing
• Trailer `


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Eraser (1996)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 13, 2014)

Prior to 1993, Arnold Schwarzenegger's career simply sailed along a smooth course of undistinguished violent action pics. His filmography came punctuated by the occasional class project such as Terminator 2 or absurd "fish out of water" comedies like Kindergarten Cop or Twins. While some of these movies didn’t set the world on fire, they didn’t bomb either, so Schwarzenegger seemed to be a veritable box office "sure thing."

All that changed in 1993 with the disastrous release of Last Action Hero. Both critically and financially, it was a flop of Ishtar or Heaven’s Gate proportions; so great was its failure that it seemed to threaten Schwarzenegger’s career. Thankfully for him, he rebounded the following year with the reasonably successful True Lies.

Perhaps as a continued reaction to the failure of the semi-parody found in Last Action Hero, 1996’s Eraser placed Schwarzenegger back in the same mode he mined so well in earlier years. Unfortunately, while Eraser offers occasional thrills, it mostly seems unexceptional. Federal Agent John Kruger (Schwarzenegger) specializes in "erasing" members of the Witness Protection Program; if their covers get blown, he comes in and starts all over again. The film sets up his job through a sequence in which Kruger stages a number of deceptions to save a protected witness and his wife (Robert Pastorelli and Melora Walters).

After this, Kruger simultaneously attempts to protect Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), his latest endangered witness, and also to get to the bottom of some deception within and outside his bureau. We follow these elements along with the inevitable violent action typical of Schwarzenegger’s films.

While the production of Eraser certainly seems competent and professional, the film lacks any kind of spark that would set it apart from others in its genre. As alluded, Eraser bears a strong resemblance to Schwarzenegger's interchangeable testosterone-fests from the 1980s. Yeah, it boasts a higher budget and better production values than his earlier efforts, but other than that, it easily fits in with those movies.

Ironically, although Eraser portrays no romantic involvement between Schwarzenegger and Williams, I can't decide if this is a step forward or backward. Yes, it's nice to see a movie that doesn't attempt to force artificial love interests down our throats. However, I can't help but be suspicious that in a film as cliché and rote as Eraser, the romantic engagement that we would expect between these characters fails to occur mainly because of fear in Hollywood about interracial love affairs. Admittedly, that's just speculation on my part, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover that's the case.

I found the utterly banal nature of Eraser to be a surprise when I saw it theatrically. Director Charles Russell also helmed moderately spiffy fare such as The Mask and Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and I'd hoped he would bring similar flair to this project. Alas, it was not to be; he does a decent job with the fight scenes, but he makes no particular mark.

The same seems true for the actors. Outside of Schwarzenegger, the film comes with a seriously "B"-level cast. I don't intend that as an insult to the actors involved; no, I simply mean to convey that for such a big budget, high profile effort, Eraser boasts a surprisingly cut rate cast.

Schwarzenegger plays the same role he's done a thousand other times. Kruger's a typical white hat/no flaws good guy; there's not a whole lot of depth to the role. That's probably good, because Schwarzenegger never developed any ability to display nuance in his characters. It's not a mistake that his best work has come in the two Terminator films, roles that required him to play an emotionless automaton. Frankly, when Arnie attempts regular human emotions such as warmth or empathy, as he does occasionally during Eraser, the results continue to be embarrassing. He succeeds simply because he cuts such an imposing and effective presence.

Like Schwarzenegger, Williams offers little other than her appearance. Williams is quite beautiful, but she possesses almost as few acting talents as does her co-star. Granted, her role asks her to do little other than play the helpless victim and be rescued ad nauseum by Schwarzenegger, but nonetheless she remains a stiff and weightless presence.

James Caan provides a suitably crude and oily performance as our main villain, but he's simply not up to the level of other, more provocative baddies. Caan gets the job done, but like the film itself, he lacks any kind of distinguishing flair that would take his character to a higher level. All in all, Eraser makes for a competent but highly pedestrian film.

The DVD Grades: Picture D/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Eraser appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and of 1.33:1 on double-sided, single-layered DVD. One of the earliest DVD releases, Eraser looked great on my 27-inch tube TV in 1997. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold up well on my 60-inch plasma set in 2014.

Sharpness consistently looked bland at best. Close-ups displayed mediocre delineation while wider shots tended to be soft and fuzzy. Prominent edge haloes made the image even less distinctive, and I saw occasional examples of shimmering and jaggies. A fair amount of digital artifacts came along from the ride, and I also noticed a mix of specks and marks; the image could’ve been dirtier, but given how new the movie was when the DVD came into existence, I thought it showed far too many print flaws.

Colors tended to be flat. The movie tended toward a bluish palette and the tones failed to deliver much life; they seemed bland and drab. Blacks were inky and shadows seemed murky, without much clarity. This was a consistently unappealing presentation.

At least the movie’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack fared better, as the action material used the spectrum in an involving manner. The mix created a good sense of place throughout the movie and came to life well during the more action-oriented scenes. Those spread to the side and rear channels in a worthwhile way that formed involving scenarios.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was fairly concise and natural, while effects showed appropriate range and impact, with positive low-end when necessary. Music appeared full and rich. The mix suited the material and added life to the film.

Only minor extras appear here. In addition to the film’s trailer, we find Cast Listings. This area offers basic biographies/filmographies (through 1997) for director Charles Russell and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Caan, Vanessa Williams, James Coburn and Robert Pastorelli.

Eraser stands as a perfectly mediocre mid-1990s action film. While it boasts occasional thrills, it seems too generic to be more than average. The DVD presents pretty good audio but suffers from awful visuals and insubstantial bonus materials. Fans of Eraser won’t be happy with this unattractive presentation.

To rate this film, visit the Blu-ray review of ERASER

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