Coming To America – Blu-ray Review

Coming To America is a 1988 American romantic comedy film that was directed by John Landis and is based on the story that was originally created by Eddie Murphy, who also starred in the lead role. The film also co-stars Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos. The film was released in the United States on June 29, 1988. Murphy plays the character Akeem Joffer, the crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda, who comes to the United States in the hopes of finding a woman that he can marry.

In 1989, a pilot for a planned television spin-off was made, although it was never picked up for a series.

In 1990, the film was the subject of the “Buchwald v. Paramout” civil suit, which the humorist Art Buchwald filed against the film’s producers with the claim that the film’s idea was stolen from his 1982 script treatment about a rich, despotic African potentate who comes to America for a state visit. Paramount had optioned the treatment from Buchwald, and John Landis was attached as director and Eddie Murphy as the lead, but after two years of development hell, Paramount had abandoned the project in March 1985. In 1987, Paramount began working on Coming to America based on a story that was written by Eddie Murphy. Buchwald won the breach of contract action and the court ordered monetary damages. The parties later settled out of court prior to an appeal making it to trial.

The Film Itself (4/5):

Coming To America is a movie, that gives audiences nothing but an experience that’s chock full of laughter from beginning to end. With what felt like was perfect timing, combined with Eddie Murphy’s noteworthy gift of mimicry and crass humor, the man ended up saving this film from being what could have been an extreme disaster. The entire concept behind the film is one that myself and many others would find to be a poor experience; but the man took the concept and absolutely ran with it, making it an extremely memorable time for both my wife and I.

Picture Quality (5/5):

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of this film and the name that it’s made for itself since its theatrical run,  the Blu-ray release of Coming To America offers a completely fresh and remastered visual experience for its viewers that is clean, clear, and extremely vibrant that it looks exactly how the minds of viewers would have during its original run would have seen it.  Maintaining the all original feel for a film of the late 1980s, you can certainly tell and appreciate that the crew who worked behind the remastering process of this film put in a lot of work and paid a lot of attention to the finer details.

Audio Quality (3.5/5):

Unfortunately, this release of Coming To America comes packaged with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track that really tries its hardest to not only be an immersive experience for its viewers, but really tries to deliver a powerful experience behind everything.  With a slight manual increase in the volume levels of my receiver as I watched it, I was able to hear and understand everything as the movie progressed; but I do feel that they should have really gone with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix at a minimum for this release given the capacity of the format and abilities behind the remastering processes.  With that known and noted, the dialogue of Coming To America was clean, clear and understandable, and allowed for a delivery of standard proportions.

The Packaging (2.5/5):

The 30th anniversary Blu-ray release of Coming To America comes packaged in your standard single-disc Blu-ray amaray case.  Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film, the disc featuring absolutely no artwork that’s related to the movie outside of the standard release text and generic blue background.  There are no DVD copies of the film included with this release; but, there is a digital copy redemption pamphlet that’s been included for the various streaming options.  There is also a slipcover that’s been made available during the original pressing that features the same artwork that’s been included on the case art.

  

Special Features (3.75/5):

The additional features that have been included on the Blu-ray release of Coming To America offers an extremely nice look at the behind-the-scenes work that went into not only making this film, but a lot of the promotional work that went into the movie.  There is a considerable shortage of content that allows audiences to explore the story any further, which is a shame.  I would have liked to have seen some content that includes an expansion of the storyline, as well as an audio commentary included with the feature presentation.  Included with this release is:

  • Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together Of America
  • Fit For Akeem: The Costumes Of Coming To America
  • Character Building: The Many Faces Of Rick Baker
  • Composing America: The Musical Talents Of Nile Rodgers
  • A Vintage Sit-Down With Eddie And Arsenio
  • Photo Gallery

Technical Specs:

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: Dolby Digital 5.1

French: Dolby Digital 2.0

Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Runtime

Original Film: 116 minutes

Final Thoughts:

In talking with my colleagues, all I heard was praise about Coming To America, so needless to say, I was looking forward to checking this movie out.  You can definitely tell that Eddie Murphy had taken the lame concept behind the plot and saved this movie from being the absolute disaster that it could have been, and I am beyond thankful for that.  The visual presentation of this release was very nicely done, but the audio track left a lot to be asked for.  Special features, while were a really nice touch, despite its lack of expansion upon the storyline.  If you’re considering grabbing this release for your collection, I’d recommend it.  Especially for the price point that it’s going for online.  Coming To America will be available on Blu-ray beginning on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.

 

Doug

Movie lover, technophile, moderator of /r/dvdcollection and just your average, everyday movie viewer. Haven't heard of our subreddit? Check us out!

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