Great car stunts and high speed street racing with a stunning array of muscle cars and super cars mostly done in real time are the reasons for the existence of Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed. It certainly isn’t the infant pabulum that passes itself off as a narrative through-line which is as insulting and ridiculous as it’s possible to be. Fine actors are treading water in this mindless action fluff, but those stunts are something to see, and the film’s outstanding sound design does make the viewer feel as if he’s right in the midst of one of these racing demon cars.
Distributed By: Disney
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 11 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 08/05/2014
Car mechanic par excellence Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) not only can supervise the building of monster super cars, he can also race them illegally on the city streets of Mt. Kisco, New York, with the best of them. He and his team earn a cool $500,000 for building a one-of-a-kind Mustang that can top 230 mph, but his deep-seated rivalry with star racer Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) goads him into betting the bankroll on a street race with Dino and with Tobey’s close friend Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) also participating. While losing the race, Dino deliberately wrecks Pete’s car causing Tobey to pull out of the race to attempt to rescue his friend in a burning vehicle while Dino wins the money and scrams from the scene of the accident sending Tobey to jail for two years for vehicular manslaughter. On his release, Tobey once again gets drawn into the world of illegal street racing, this time a grand champion’s race called the De Leon run by the infamous Monarch (Michael Keaton). But to get to San Francisco, Tobey and his sponsor’s representative Julia (Imogen Poots) must cross the country in two days in order for him to finally square things with his hated enemy.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
The script by George and John Gatins doesn’t expect street race fans (or fans of the Electronic Arts video game on which the film was based) to think too much about where these penniless mechanics get the money to rig out the maintenance truck and airplane surveillance that Tobey needs to make his cross country trip (have any of these guys looked at gas prices lately?) It’s especially insulting to the audience that Tobey’s jive-talking friend Denny (Scott Mescudi) manages to keep his boy on course by jumping from his prop plane to a news helicopter to an army chopper just by talking his way into gaining their access (we never see him do it, of course). Also, the amount of total destruction left in the wake of these high speed races and chases (the one in Detroit destroys many cars, much property, and one must assume a few lives in the ensuing melee) never seems to be a consideration (yet it’s almost comical how shocked everyone is when young Pete dies as if nothing bad could ever happen to any of them in these insane nightly races). The races themselves are exhilaratingly staged and shot, and there’s a realism to the events that lets one know these are real cars going very fast on real roads and not in some green screened CGI warehouse. But the story that surrounds all these impressive stunts is as lame and predictable as can be (naturally the race comes down to the two rivals vying for the win), and the romance that develops between Tobey and Julia isn’t very believable or involving. Frankly, both of them aren’t particularly likable people.
Aaron Paul is a fine actor (his Emmys for TV’s Breaking Bad have all been well deserved), and he no doubt had a great time playing around with these majestic and awe-inspiring super cars, but neither the script nor the director give him much help in trying to navigate the absurdity of this lame story. His buddies played by Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez all have one-dimensional roles which they joke and josh their way through without making much of an impression (though Scott Mescudi does score a few improvisational points for some offhanded quips). The two primary ladies of the film, Imogen Poots as the new love and Dakota Johnson as the old love who had migrated over to rival Dino, are alternately too abrasive and too flaccid (Johnson seems to have graduated from the Kristen Stewart school of non-emoting). Dominic Cooper as the villainous Dino has been decked out with every repellant attitude one could have apart from a mustache he can twirl; he does favor all black garb through the film, and Michael Keaton riffing all on his own as the mysterious Monarch is actively irritating as he ridiculously pontificates over his internet feed covering the race these “deep” psychological insights over events as they transpire.
The film’s 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. It’s a reference quality transfer with bold, bright and rich color and outstanding sharpness exuding tons of detail. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is excellent, and skin tones are always natural. Contrast has been consistently applied making for a very appealing image. The film has been divided into 21 chapters.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
Incidentally, the film was post converted for 3D showings, but only the 2D disc was sent for review.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix really makes exceptional use of the multichannel soundstage by offering constant pans across and through the sound field during the races and chases and allowing the listener to feel as if he’s actually inside some of these racing machines. Your subwoofer will get a tremendous workout with this mix which also features Nathan Furst’s driving (no pun intended) score and dialogue which is mostly in the center channel but which occasionally makes use of directionalized placements.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Audio Commentary: director Scott Waugh and star Aaron Paul have an amiable conversation as the enthusiastic Waugh especially recalls details of the production as the scenes develop.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Capturing Speed: Making an Authentic Car Movie (9:45, HD): director Scott Waugh, stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, producer-writer John Gatins, executive producer Steven Spielberg, cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, and other crew members discuss the construction of the cars for movie work, the training of the two stars for the driving sequences, and the stunt work going on behind-the-scenes.
Ties That Bind (12:04, HD): director Scott Waugh discusses his closeness and special bond with the Gilbert family who served as the stunt coordinators and some of the drivers on the movie.
The Circus Is in Town (10:50, HD): director Scott Waugh describes the cross country circus and crew-as-family that it took to get the film made in a number of locations on each coast and in Detroit.
Monarch and Maverick Outtakes (1:43, HD): a montage of selected improvisations from Michael Keaton and Scott Mescudi in character while the cameras rolled.
Deleted Scenes (5:09, HD): four deleted scenes with introductions by director Scott Waugh. They may also be watched individually.
The Sound of Need for Speed (9:25, HD): the film’s composer, sound mixers, and sound editor all discuss how the Foley was captured for the movie and how the sound was especially built for 7.1 sound design and with behind the scenes looks at the score being recorded as well.
Need for Speed Rivals Trailer (1:25, HD): an ad for the Electronic Arts video game.
Promo Trailer (HD): Guardians of the Galaxy.
Digital Copy: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Need for Speed may not make much narrative sense, but most people watching this are only interested in fast cars and dangerous stunts, and this movie delivers those in spades. The Blu-ray offers reference quality picture and sound.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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