Warner Bros. // 1989 // 83 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // May 15th, 2004
"This entry is only -- repeat only -- for those who thought Police Academy 5 was robbed at Oscar time." -- Leonard Maltin
A crime wave has struck the city, perpetuated by a gang of three dimwitted crooks. The Mayor (Kenneth Mars, The Producers, Young Frankenstein) demands that action be taken to end this wave. He forces Captain Harris (G.W. Bailey) to send for Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes, Vanya on 42nd Street) and his team of Police Academy grads, including Lt. Hightower (Bubba Smith). Together, can they crack this mystery of who is behind the crime wave.
More often than not, sequels tend to be increasingly poor in quality and box office take. The Police Academy series is an exception to the rule, with each sequel performing respectable business at the box office and relying on an established formula. After the mediocre fifth entry Assignment Miami Beach, the series makes a startling return to form with Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. This sequel is not only hilarious but surprisingly well crafted. A great deal of the success belongs to director Peter Bonerz. A member of the cult comedy troupe The Committee, Bonerz takes a fresh approach with the series. He makes the decision to not simply remake set pieces from previous entries. Instead, he and his writing team have written a film brimming with original jokes and fresh twists on older gags.
Despite the loss of Steve Guttenberg in the fifth entry, the cast admirably carries on. Bubba Smith is effective as Hightower, often taking the lead where Guttenberg's Mahoney treaded previously. Gaynes and Bailey are as funny and flippant as they normally are. Mars makes an effective straight man as the Mayor. He doesn't overact here but keeps things under wraps.
Warner Bros. presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. After the full frame transfers of the two previous sequels, I was pleased that this entry was offered in widescreen. The image itself is mediocre. Grain is present throughout the feature, sometimes at annoying levels. Scratches and specks appear as well, especially during the opening credits. Colors aren't as bright and vivid as in previous Police Academy releases.
Continuing a disturbing tradition with catalog items, the sound is offered only in Dolby Digital 1.0. I wouldn't mind the mono mix if it weren't so poor. The sound is flat and sterile, lacking the pop that digital sound should have. Only the theme music manages to sound great through the speakers -- which is sad in more ways than one.
The original theatrical trailer, presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, looks and sounds great. A making of featurette runs eight minutes and is the best of the featurettes. Director Bonerz is interviewed and offers great insights into his approach to the franchise. I wish he had recorded a commentary track for the film itself as well.
As is the case with the other Police Academy films, this one is offered both separately (with a $14.95 retail price) or in the seven disc collection (with a $69.99 retail price). I'm sure many jaws are going to drop when I suggest that City Under Siege is worth checking out as a rental. A purchase is up to the completists and die-hard fans.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1989
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Making-of Featurette
* Theatrical Trailer