Monday, August 11, 2014

Need for Speed Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Buckle up with star Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”), Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi), Dakota Johnson and Michael Keaton in this high-speed tale about an underground driver (Paul) who sets off on a race for revenge against the wealthy ex-NASCAR driver (Cooper) who framed him for a crime he didn't commit. Based on the best-selling video game series, this action-packed movie drives non-stop excitement into your home in various home entertainment models, each tricked out with never-before-seen bonus features you won’t want to miss! Delivering real speed, real danger and real action, this turbo-charged thriller explodes on screen on Blu-ray and Digital HD with spectacular high definition picture and sound!
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a street racer who is in financial trouble. He is in danger of losing his late father’s auto shop to the bank. Hope comes in the form of a man named Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) who is your typical spoiled rich kid, but he also happens to be dating Tobey’s ex. Dino hires Tobey and his friends/employees to finish Carol Shelby’s last mustang. The finished car will be worth millions and Dino offers Tobey a 25% cut of the profit. A broker named Julia (Imogen Poots) makes the purchase after Tobey proves the car can reach a speed of 234 mph. 

Even though the sale is made, Dino is angry that Tobey drove the car against his wishes. Dino challenges Tobey to a street race in his uncle’s multi-million dollar sports cars. Tobey’s honorary little-brother Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) joins the race, and for a moment feels lucky that the uncle has three identical cars. Soon Dino is losing the race, and he rams Pete – turning the performance vehicle into a fireball.

As all likable outlaws do, Tobey rushes back to Pete but it’s too late to save his life. As all rotten bad guys do, Dino takes off, reports the cars stolen and takes no responsibility. Tobey heads to prison, but the time doesn’t help him cool down. As soon as he is free, his focus is on gaining entry to a high stakes street race called the DeLeon. A mystery man known as the monarch (Michael Keaton) plans the race and invites the best drivers. The DeLeon is where Tobey plans to seek revenge, but the race starts in 43 hours. He must put the crew back together and make it across the country in time for the race. 

The story is quite outrageous and full of overly manufactured drama. The fact that the dead kid is the younger brother of Tobey’s ex-girlfriend is one thing. But when you add the fact that the bad guy is now dating the ex, it’s a little too much of a setup. The game is all about speed and I wish the plot featured another reason to race across the country. The Fast and the Furious did a much better job with a story arc.

This film should appeal to car enthusiasts. There are a lot of unique and expensive cars which most people will never see on the road. For car watching – the film is a success. I had no complaints about the actors. Aaron Paul is able to handle the lead role, but I just wish it had been a more developed role. There was too much back-story and I didn’t get into this film. The cars look cool and the car action is absolutely more inventive than anything that I could have come up with. The story just won’t hold up to repeat viewings and the characters are almost over-developed in the first quarter of the film. For people who don’t care about the cars, it might be disappointing. For those who haven't played the games, the outrageousness of what they do with the cars will be hard to buy into.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Need for Speed is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment with a 2.39:1 ratio. The film is unfortunately not available in 3D. Detail is excellent and black levels are above par. The daytime road-trip includes lavish colors but it’s the opening night sequence that caught my eye. I always expect to see problems with the black levels or with clarity at night, and that was not the case as this transfer looks excellent. 
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Need For Speed’s audio presentation also does not disappoint. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix makes full use of your speakers with a weighty presence. Your sub-woofer will roar as the engines race. I applaud the fact that the soundtrack has purpose and isn’t just road noise. Dialogue is clear and intelligible regardless of the situation. The film also includes English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital as well as subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired, French and Spanish.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 
The Blu-ray contains a decent list of special features. The extras include a bit more than the usual making of featurette I had expected.
  • Capturing Speed: Making An Authentic Car Movie - A brief (under 10 minute) look at the automotive co-stars (the cars) and the new ways the filmmakers approached the combination of CGI, real vehicles, camera rigs and stunt drivers.
  • Ties That Bind - Director Scott Waugh discusses his background and respect for stunt work.
  • The Circus Is In Town - The Director narrates production still-photography.
  • Audio Commentary - .Scott Waugh and Aaron Paul discuss the technical aspects of the film, and challenges they faced. Overall an entertaining track worth the time.
  • Monarch & Maverick Outtakes - Under 2 minutes of bloopers, many of which you probably had to be there to appreciate.
  • Deleted Scenes - Four deleted scenes -- "Pole Position," "Princess Julia," "Salt Flats," and "Jailhouse Dance Party" and one extended scene. They include Director’s introduction and can be played individually or with play all function.
  • The Sound of Need For Speed – Surprisingly, the feature about the sound is not presented in 7.1 like the film. Filmmakers discuss using multiple frequencies and layering to achieve desired results.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
While the story for Need for Speed didn't impress me much, I did enjoy the car parts which helped raise my final score. When you factor in the excellent audio and video presentation that also helped raise the final score. The cars were cool but it I can only call the overall experience good, not excellent. 

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