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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BluRay Review: The Fast and the Furious Trilogy (Recommended)



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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

Sam Posten

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Posted April 29 2009 - 04:01 PM

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The Fast and the Furious Trilogy





Blu Ray Title: The fast and the Furious Trilogy
Disk Release Date: 24 March, 2009


Note: Portions of this review are based heavily on my previous review of the 26 Setember, 2006 release of the Fast and Furious Trilogy on HDDVD.





Blu Ray Title: The Fast and the Furious
Disk Release Date: 24 March, 2009
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 22 June, 2001
Previous releases on disk: Multiple, including fullscreen, widescreen and special ‘tricked out’ editions and a 26 September 2006 HDDVD
Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Ted Levine
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 Hour, 47 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French


Plot: 3.5/5
The youth of LA have kept the car in the center of their culture since the 50s, today however speed, sexiness, and swagger have taken the focus and the kids apparently have a lot more money to burn. The Fast and the Furious uses the LA import tuner car society as the backdrop into a convoluted story about stolen consumer electronics, where the only things that matter are the respect you get from driving and how good you look doing it. Brian O’Conner (Walker) is a detective deep undercover looking for the gang using custom tuned Japanese race cars to steal truck loads of DVD players and other expensive items. The evidence points to the crew of Dominic Torreto (Diesel) an ex con with the reputation as the fastest driver in town. O’Conner suspects that it’s a rival Japanese gang led by Johnny Tran (Yune) but it may be that his obsession with Toretto’s sister Mia (Brewster) has clouded his vision.

While the cast may be full of Hollywood’s young elite, the cars are the stars of this movie. Featuring some incredible stunts, including computer composites that have never been seen before, the action sequences are memorable and represent a new start to just what is possible in a race movie.

Sound Quality: 5/5
F&F will certainly test all of your speakers. The cacophony of the volcanic rumble of American Muscle dueling against Japanese technology and Nitrous Oxide fueled street cars, squeeling wheels, and the hoots and hollers of the drivers presents more than just a wall of sound, it’s a full bubble of sound that is constantly in motion. Add in a hip-hop inspired sound track, full of urban southwestern flavor, and you find definite demo quality material. Plus this version gets a full uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio mix to sweeten the deal. Crank it up and let it wash over you.

Visual Quality: 4.5/5
F&F is also a great looking movie with a perfect transfer. The racing sequences are incredibly sharp, well colored given they are mostly night shoots, and there is absolutely no hint of edge enhancement or spots, pops, dust or other errant elements on the transfer. Grain is notable in many sequences, particularly due to the choice of film stock and as a conscious decision of the film maker given the night shoots. This is not something to be critical about, it is an important part of the look of the film. Like the audio it looks exactly as I remembered it on the HD-DVD tho I am not the kind of person to go back and obsessively compare the two.

Extra Features: 5+/5
Like the HDDVD before it, this BluRay disk is among the biggest batch of extras that Universal has ever fit on a disk, mixing in tons of both interactive and static content to satisfy those who prefer one or the other, and overwhelm those who demand both. Leading this is a feature length ‘picture in picture’ U-Control track that presents behind the scenes video in a commentary track like format along with a ‘tech specs’ track that allows viewers to pull up the minutiae of the cars technology. Also carried over from the HDDVD are a full making of featurette, a comparison shot showing the same scene filmed from about 9 different angles simultaneously, a visual effects featurette, at least one of the 3 music videos (I didn't see the other two!), and a bunch of deleted and extended scenes. There’s even D-Box motion control seating for the few of us lucky enough to afford that technology! Some are in HD and others are in standard definition, but there is plenty to choose from and the interactivity is slick. There literally was too much content for me to go through here and still get to the other two disks in the set.


There are however some new features that were not on the HDDVD counterpart and these include a look at Dom’s Charger and how it will be featured in the new Fast and Furious movie, a new “Quarter Mile at a time” featurette, and a BD-live tool which allows you to direct and edit your own video clips. Plus there’s a second disk in the box which has the film available on Digital Copy so you can transfer a copy to iPod or other device and watch it from the road.

Overall: 4.5/5 (not an average)
Combining demo quality sound, sharp visuals, slick extra features and a fun ride of a film, this is a disk that is worth owning for many reasons. As part of the trilogy of films, it is seminal in kicking off the franchise, and it’s the most polished of the bunch. The Fast and the Furious is every bit the equal and beyond of the version found on HD-DVD and is truly BluRay done right.





Blu Ray Title: 2 Fast 2 Furious
Disk Release Date: 24 March, 2009
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 6 June, 2003
Previous releases on disk: Multiple, including fullscreen, widescreen and special ‘tricked out’ editions and a 26 September 2006 HDDVD
Director: John Singleton
Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, James Remar
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French


Plot: 2.5/5
Continuing O’Conner’s (Walker) story where we left off from The Fast and the Furious, 2F&F has him arrested for letting Toretto go. In order to get back in the good graces of the FBI, he agrees to aid them in bringing mobster Carter Verone (Hauser) down. O’Conner infiltrates the Miami street racing scene, and recruits his former friend Roman Pearce (Gibson) to help him pose as local racers. With the help of undercover agent Fuentes (Mendes), O’Conner and Pearce are recruited as drivers for Verone, setting the trap to bring him down.

Sound Quality: 4/5
The sound on this movie is very good, but not in the same league as that from the original. There are plenty of action scenes with terrific bass, split surround effects and it has a solid sound track, it just doesn’t have the presence or total hit you in your gut drive that the original has in spades. Again hip-hop influences are notable, this time with a Miami flavor, including new music from Ludacris. Note that the transfer makes the jump to full uncompressed sound in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

Visual Quality: 4.5/5
In moving the setting to Miami, this film naturally features a lot more sunny outdoor segments and the color palette is suitably expanded. Again, the transfer is simply perfect, with no grain, pops, dust or edge enhancement to be found. While there are some great visual effects, there aren’t any groundbreaking new ones to be found as the original, and some of the originals are rehashed here in homage, which is neat for continuity but not as impressive as the creativity shown in the original.

Extra Features: 4.5/5
There is a pretty good depth of bonuses on this disk, putting in feature length interactivity that the HDDVD lacked, including three seperate uses of U-Control: Tech Specs avaialble for interactive reference, pop-up Animated anecdotes and picture in picture behind the scenes clips. and retaining the director’s commentary track. Features also repeated from the HDDVD include a behind the scenes making of featurette, a look at the driving school the actors attended, out-takes and deleted scenes, a behind the scenes look at the music video production with Ludacris, a video short that connects F&F to 2F2F, customizing an import and an in depth look at three featured cars, the Spyder, Evo VII and S2000. Like the original there is also D-Box motion support for the elite home theater owner. Added to the mix in addition to the U-Control are two new featurettes, the first follows the female actresses and discusses how they feel about their roles and the strong characters that they represent in the import car world while the second is titled “Hollywood Impact” but escaped my eye in this view-through. There’s also a Digital Copy to bring a copy with you on your portable media player of choice.

Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)
Fans of the original or those looking for adrenaline fueled excitement will find a lot to like about this disk, and the fact that the sound and video are of such high quality goes in its favor as well. While the story is a bit weak, the entertainment provided in the racing segments more than carries its weigh. On its own, 2F2F is a moderately successful disk, but in comparison the original it is easy to pick apart the areas where it falls a bit short. Those clinging to the HDDVD will need to know there are some new extras and those combined with the new uncompressed audio track might be just enough for a double-dip.




Blu Ray Title: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Disk Release Date: 24 March, 2009
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P High Definition widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: June 16, 2006
Previous releases on disk: Multiple, including fullscreen, widescreen and special ‘tricked out’ editions and a 26 September 2006 HDDVD
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Lucas Black, Bow Wow
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 hour 45 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French


Plot: 4/5
In Tokyo Drift, the story jumps away from O’Conner’s world and lands on the shoulders of Sean Boswell (Black). Boswell is a Navy brat from a split family. After breaking the rules too many times he is sent to live with his father in Japan, and immediately falls in with a crowd like the one he just left: young and obsessed with cars and speed. What Boswell isn’t prepared for is the concept of drifting: using your tires and acceleration to make high speed turns that used to be thought impossible using traditional racing concepts. He also isn’t ready for the influence of the Yakuza, who are behind everything his new friends are into. By learning to master his driving as well as his own self control, Boswell might just be able to pull himself out of the trouble he has gotten into and become a man in the process.

Sound Quality: 4/5
Matching the move across the ocean, mixing in Japanese bubblegum pop into the mostly hip hop soundtrack the F&F series is known for is a nice bridge to this new chapter in the series. Technologically, the bass and surround are definitely high quality, explosives are very realistic, the roar of the cars matches action on screen, and music is well positioned all around the room. This is another solid fielding in this franchise, but one that again falls just short of the sonic fury that the original possesses. Like its brethren it gets an upgrade to full uncompressed audio, tho only those with golden ears will likely note the difference between the mixes.

Visual Quality: 4.5/5
Like the others in the series, the transfer is flat out perfect, with high sharpness, low grain, and no edge enhancement to speak of. Again there are zero pops or scratches on the print, just flawless action. Since we are back into the city, a lot of night driving is called for again, and LA is used as a pretty realistic stand in for Tokyo, in fact I didn’t realize it WASN’T Tokyo until I saw the making of featurettes while doing the previous HDDVD review. The hilltop drifting scenes allow us to get out into the country a bit, providing an opportunity to open up the palette and get some needed depth to the colors.

Extra Features: 5/5
This BluRay manages to pack in the pile of extras from the HDDVD and even add a few new ones in the process. There is a full interactive experience, which provides picture in picture access to interviews and behind the scenes featurettes while never letting go of the on screen film. Viewers are also able to access storyboards, the specs of the cars, watch the cars location on a GPS screen, and view production photos. Again, I prefer my behind the scenes to be menu driven, but it is hard to argue with how slickly this is done. On the static features side, returning content includes films of the driving school with the actors, meeting the real inspiration behind the Drift King character, a feature length commentary track, and deleted scenes. New to Blu is a ‘Making of’ featurette which also gives a sneak peak at the 4th film in the franchise, and another feature that looks at how drifting was discovered and how big it has become. There is also D-Box control data and the Digital Copy of the film This is a full bundle no matter how you approach the extras. Well done!

Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
While this film doesn’t have the drive or the charisma of the original, at least the story is something new, and the unique drifting angle adds a lot to both the story itself and the flair of the movie. The audio and video qualities are quite high, and it is simply a fun experience even if it isn’t in the realm of timeless classics. Franchise fans will enjoy this new twist in the story’s progress, and it leaves us wondering where the series will head next, and we are given hints to how that will go at in the extras.

BluRay Trilogy Overall: This is a killer collection of Audio, Video and Extras, with a legion of fans who are eager for the next chapter which is in theaters now. There’s tons of ammunition here to get those who are satisfied with their HDDVDs to ‘upgrade’ to Blu, including new content and digital copies off all three films. If that’s not enough, there’s even ‘Movie Cash’ to help you get a ticket if you buy the set before May 10th. Overall it is easy to call this box set ‘Recommended’

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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Phil Carter

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Posted April 30 2009 - 01:17 AM

Another fine review, Sam! These films are some guilty pleasures for me (well, at least the first two....never saw the third one for some reason). I have the DVD boxset with the first two films and they get lots of replay. Always thought they made great demo discs for my system and it'll be nice to have some even better picture and sound for 'em now.

cheers,
Phil
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#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:18 AM

Check out the third one, it's not all that bad especially if you don't know anything about Drifting culture. It's a totally different and yet still connected vibe.

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