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HTF REVIEW: "Speed" (Five Star Collection) (with screenshots)

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#1 of 76 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 25 2002 - 06:34 AM

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Studio: Fox
Year: 1994
Rated: R
Film Length: 115 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)

Get ready for rush hour

If ever there was one title in the Fox library
that was screaming to be remastered, it was the
original DVD release of Speed. Being one
of the original Fox DVD releases back in 1998,
the transfer greatly suffered from poor quality
control from that studio. These were the days
before Peter Staddon came aboard and helped turn
the DVD tides for the better.

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Speed is certainly one of the most unique
action movies ever made. You must give credit
to a film that boldly takes an action movie where
it has never gone before -- on board a speeding bus.
In fact, this is the ultimate man-loving action
movie of all time! What more can a film deliver
than a falling elevator, a bus that cannot slow
down below 50 mph, and a train that is going to
run out of track very soon?

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As the film opens a mad bomber named Howard
Payne (Dennis Hopper) has taken the control of
an elevator inside a high rise building. He plans
to blow up the elevator if not paid millions by
the city. Enter SWAT cops Jack Traven (Keanu
Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels), who
in the film's highly charged climatic opening,
manage to save the day and the lives of 13 people
inside the elevator.

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This doesn't make our resident madman very happy.
As a way of getting back at the officer who
undermined his plans, Howard Payne blows up a bus
just feet from a restaurant where Traven has
bought coffee. Payne makes a phone call to Traven
and promises him another bus explosion. A bomb
has just been planted on a local bus. When the
bus reaches 50 mph, the bomb activates. If the
bus goes slower than 50 mph, it detonates. Once
Traven manages to get on board the bus, he relies
on Annie (Sandra Bullock), a passenger on board,
to keep the bus speeding through the streets of LA.

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The bulk of this film consists of Traven almost
single-handedly keeping the bus going down a
freeway and local streets at 50 mph. Of course,
this means that audiences should be prepared for
some of the biggest bang-em-ups since I got my
driver's license.

Make no mistake about it, Speed is a
high-octane action movie. Your adrenaline is
liable to be rushing so much that you'll find
yourself bouncing off walls.

How is the transfer?

Those of you that own the original 1998 DVD
release are in for the shock of your life. This
new transfer is almost flawless! But what else
would you expect from Fox?

What you'll immediately notice is how clean
and pristine this transfer looks. There is
absolutely no hint of video noise or artifacts
anywhere. It's a very smooth-looking transfer
that while comes across a little soft, has
managed to keep colors well balanced. Even the
black levels are nice and solid. It's amazing
to see what a little time and quality control
will do to a transfer like this one.

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If there is any doubt about the 5.1 DTS track
being anything but reference quality, those
doubts will be quickly dismissed during the
opening moments of the film. An elevator shaft
provides an exceptional acoustic atmosphere for
the hollowed noises that follow -- in particular,
Payne rumbling through a toolbox that can be
distinctly heard in the rear right channel.
When the elevator is rigged to a roof crane,
and that crane collapses, every channel delivers
explosive sound as the crane gets pulled into the
shaft and comes to a deafening halted THUD! This
sequence alone is demo-quality.

I won't hide the fact that I prefer a DTS
track over Dolby Digital. I feel that a DTS
track greatly expands the sound field, and a
movie like this greatly benefits from it. Once
the bus is in full motion out on the streets of
LA, not a single piece of bystander activity is
unrepresented by the rears. From helicopters
and police motorcycles that cross the soundstage
from front to back, to thunderous explosions that
your subwoofer will be unforgiving about, this
is one of the best DTS tracks I have heard.

Special Features

Fox has released Speed as a 2-disc
Special Edition under their heralded Five Star
Collection banner.

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You gotta love the opening menu of this DVD.
A darkened room. The Fox logo on a small monitor.
Madman Howard Payne prepares his next detonator
as seconds tick away on a digital readout. Quick
clips of scenes end at the Main Menu that reads
like a LED screen. A very nice job!

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Disc One contains the movie and the
option of playing the film with your choice of
two audio commentaries. The first is
with Director Jan De Bont. The second is with
Screenwriter Graham Yost and Producer Mark Gordon.

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Disc Two is the heart and soul of the
supplemental materials and begins with a rather
short menu sequence that almost mimics that of
the first disc. The Main Menu breaks down the
supplemental material into several categories.

Let's begin with INSIDE: SPEED

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A newly produced On Location featurette
gives us an inside look at the making of the film.
Producer Mark Gordon explains that 12 busses were
used for the one-bus picture. Some were used just
to blow up. The significance of each bus is
carefully explained. It was important to keep
constantly changing camera angles to keep the film
visually fresh. You'll see how all these angle
shots were accomplished. LA's Century Freeway
was used for some of the film's biggest stunts.
It was a freeway still under construction, allowing
the film crew to shoot on empty highway. But
filming on this freeway wasn't easy - and you'll
find out why.
(length: approx. 7 minutes)

Stunts takes us into the exciting and
dangerous world of...well...stunts. You can
imagine just how dangerous the stunt work on
this picture was. A sidewalk and toy cars are
used to choreograph a stunt involving a bus
plowing down the street against oncoming traffic.
Stunt Coordinator Gary Hymes explains that in
some shots, he had up to 50 stunt men in cars.
Depending on how dangerous the stunt is, a
decision is made on whether to use a stunt man
or real actor in the sequence. It's interesting
to see that Keanu Reeves did most of his own
stunt work.

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Visual Effects introduces us to Visual
Effects Supervisor Boyd Shermis, who shows us the
motion control cameras capturing film action through
many of the smaller scale models (miniatures) that
were built. This includes the elevator shaft at
the beginning of the film, the subway, and even
some miniature models of the bus. We get a nice
look at how the infamous gap in the highway jump
was photographed and digitally edited.
(length: approx. 9 minutes)

This is a nice bonus we don't see too often.
The film's entire screenplay is presented
across 267 screens that you can read through using
your remote.

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To best describe what the included Production
section is all about, let me quote
what is described when you enter the area: This
Production Design section features a written
commentary by SPEED Production Designer Jack
DeGovia, who provides insight into the process
of designing and detailing such a kinetic movie
As you go through pages of noted material on
the production of various scenes, you have the
option of clicking on an icon that branches you
out to schematic drawings. You can read up on
all the intricate details of the elevator shaft
to the dashboard on the bus. Really cool stuff!

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An entire section is devoted to Action:
that give us a hands-on look at
The Bus Jump. A special bus was built
with superior shock absorbers and the ability to
rev up to 70 mph. We see how the jump was carefully
choreographed with a special harness built for
the stunt driver to keep him suspended inside.
Next, the Metroliner Crash shows us how
the subway sequence was recreated on a sound
stage, with both Reeves and Hopper doing their
own stunt work. An extensive Multi-Stream
gives you storyboard to final film
comparisons that can switched back and forth
using your remote. There is even a storyboard
for a sequence that was never filmed. Multi-
Angle Stunts
allows you to view many of the
film's most complex stunt scenes from the
perspective of the individual cameras that filmed
it. Using your remote, you can switch between
various cameras.

Next category on this disc is Interview: Archive
that is broken down into 5 original (and extensive)
'94 interviews of actors Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock,
Jeff Daniels and Dennis Hopper as well as Director
Jan De Bont.

Up next are five extended scenes that
can be played individually or together as a group.
They include:

* Inside the elevator shaft, as Payne holds
Harry hostage, Jack manages to shoot a bullet
into Payne's neck. (length: 41 seconds)

* An extended scene of the cops celebrating
the victories of Jack and Harry.
(length: Approx. 5 minutes)

* On board the bus, Annie sits with a female
passenger and talks about her job at a seafood
hut. (length: approx. 1 minute)

* Passengers aboard the bus reflect with tears
in their eyes upon the woman, Annie, who fell out
of the bus. (length: approx. 3 minutes)

* So what exactly was Ray's crime? The
Hispanic on the bus confesses to another passenger.
(length: approx. 1 minute)

While the quality of these scenes are in great
shape, none of these scenes add anything substantial
to the film and would have ultimately ruined the
overall pacing.

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The next category on this DVD is IMAGE: GALLERY
that show dozens of publicity stills and on-location
candid moments with the cast and crew. One
of my favorite sections is The streets of Los
that gives you some nice stills of
the bus stunts that were done against the traffic
of the LA freeway. There are also some cool stills
of the infamous bus jump and the stunt driver who
performed it.

One of my favorite areas on any DVD is
Promotion, where we get to see how the
film was promoted to the consumer market. Let's
take a look....

In addition to the film's original theatrical
, 11 short television spots are
also included.

Posted Image

HBO First Look The Making Of Speed starts
off better than any HBO fluff piece I have seen,
as we see Dennis Hopper sitting at a bus stop
explaining he has to catch a bus to get away from
Hollywood where he just finished a film that tore
him apart. The rest of this featurette basically
rehashes most of what we saw in the previous
supplements, mostly with all the major actors
giving a synopsis of the film and supplemented by
some behind-the-camera sequences. Watch this to
the very end and see what Dennis Hopper manages
to blow up.
(length: approx. 23 minutes)

The film's Music Video is included, sung
by Billy Idol. It's basically Billy singing and
rockin' in a small club supplemented by footage
from the film.

The film's original Press Kit Production Notes
are included for you to thumb through page by page.
I found it interesting to read that Director Jan
De Bont served as a cinematographer on such films
as Lethal Weapon 3; Die Hard; The Hunt For Red
and Black Rain.

Final Thoughts

Well here's a no brainer. Fox releases a sub par
DVD release in 1998. Fans cry foul. Now, this
film is re-released in a deluxe 2-disc collector
edition with pristine image, reference quality
sound, and enough extras to keep you busy for
a few hours.

Here's another no brainer....all this can be
bought at least from one on-line retailer for
under $20. Sounds like this is a DVD that is
going to disappear from shelves with great SPEED.

Release Date: July 30, 2002


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Silla

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Posted June 25 2002 - 06:45 AM

I'm all over it. Thanks for another great review Ron. Michael.

#3 of 76 OFFLINE   AndrewA


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Posted June 25 2002 - 06:45 AM

Sweet!!! Thanks Ron...I can't wait! It's releases like these that keeps Fox in my highest regard.

#4 of 76 OFFLINE   MichaelG


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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:00 AM

Ron, thanks for all the in depth reviews, how do you find the time? We all totally appreciate it, and thanks for another good review. I will be adding this to my collection.

Epstein's mother's Doctor!

#5 of 76 OFFLINE   Joe Fisher

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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:08 AM

Thanks for another great review Ron. I'll be adding this one to my collection also. Posted Image Posted Image

#6 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff Bamberger

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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:14 AM

This is heavy! Oooops..sorry...wrong movie I cannot wait for. Thanks for the review Ron. I knew I was going to get this anyway, but I am so happy about the transfer quality and demo audio. This will be my demo DVD going forward, at least until the next awesome action flick comes around.....

#7 of 76 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:14 AM

Excellent review. Keep encouraging me to buy DVDs Posted Image. The Fox logo always helps though.
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#8 of 76 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:25 AM

I used to own the regular edition of Speed, and while it had great surround action, I felt it was lacking in the LFE department for a film of this type and with those sound effects. Looks like this will rectify that, plus all those features. Count me in. Great review Ron.
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#9 of 76 OFFLINE   Dan Brecher

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Posted June 25 2002 - 07:41 AM

Must..... not..... pre....order... Yarggghhh TOO LATE! Dan

#10 of 76 OFFLINE   DanC


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Posted June 25 2002 - 08:07 AM

There goes another $20...thanks Ron! Posted Image
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#11 of 76 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted June 25 2002 - 08:27 AM

Not that I'm surprised, but Speed will not hold my personal record for most-purchased title:

1. Original LD (PCM stereo only)
2. DD 5.1 remastered LD
4. Original DVD release
5. Five-star edition

Maybe I should reserve a spot on my shelf now for the inevitable D-theater release? Posted Image

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#12 of 76 OFFLINE   James.M


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Posted June 25 2002 - 10:22 AM

It's a great SE guys, I bought the R2 edition that came out in the UK a few weeks ago. It's currently my fav SE in my whole collection.

I love this set.!!Posted Image Some very entertaining special features.

#13 of 76 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted June 25 2002 - 10:42 AM

"Pop quiz hot shot! You bought the original vhs release, then you bought the DD LD, then the first dvd release, now comes the ultimate dvd release. What do ya do? WHAT DO YA DO!?"

I buy the sum bitch that's what!!! Posted Image

SPEED has and always will be one of the greatest action films ever made. I remember seeing the HBO first look when it premiered when the film opened back in 94, and I remember thinking that it was one of the most ingenious plots i've ever heard, and I also remember thinking that with a plot like that, it was going to be one hard hitting, fast moving action film!

"A crowded city bus that can't slow down or it will explode, DAMN! Now THAT'S some original, ingenius shit!" I thought to myself.

I think the film works simply because it has a quality never really seen before: movement. The film really seems to be constantly in motion as the title suggests and it never slows down for a minuet. How Jan DeBont pulled it off and was able to live up to the films title i'll never know, but i'm thankful that it did live up to it, it's one of my all time favorites, right up there with DIE HARD as an action film that re-defined the genre once again and raised the bar for all others to follow or top.

Great review Ron Posted Image, July 30th cannot come fast enough!
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#14 of 76 OFFLINE   Joel Fontenot

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Posted June 25 2002 - 11:28 AM

I've only had this movie in it's original PCM laserdisc form. And, the opening elevator sequence was a favorite of mine to demo on my system when all I had was Dolby Pro-logic and badly mis-matched speakers - this sequence sounded fantastic anyway, especially with the highly active surrounds. Never bought the first DVD. Waited on this one. Can't wait now that I have matched speakers and DTS. Joel

#15 of 76 OFFLINE   Sean Moon

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Posted June 25 2002 - 12:09 PM

OOOOOHHHHH cannot wait for this baby! The early reviews on discs like this get me so pumped up for them, yet REALLY piss me off because I cant have them NOW! Looks like Charlie (sorry, cant remember how to spell his last name and dont want to ruin it) did another bang up job on a DVD, and FOx keeps their crown for best DVD studio...for now. Just wait until LOTR and Blade II come out, then New Line might take the crown back.

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#16 of 76 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted June 25 2002 - 12:37 PM

There's no shame in liking this movie - I never bought the DVD because my DTS laserdisc was a great keeper. However, I must now prepare to buy this new DVD of...what was it called again? Oh yeah...I think it was called The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down. Posted Image
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#17 of 76 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted June 25 2002 - 01:10 PM

I can finally add this film to my collection. Thanks for the review Ron.Posted Image
Recently watched- Wine,Women and War, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek: Season 2, Zardoz, Royal Flash, Man Of Tai Chi, Inkheart, Ladyhawke, 47 Ronin: 3D, The Killer Elite, 3 Days To Kill, Pitch Black, The Amazing Spider-man 2: 3D, Khartoum, The Babadook, Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb, The Blue Max

Currently watching- Planet Earth, True Blood: Season 3, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, The Equalizer: Season 4, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2, WKRP In Cincinnati: Season 2, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, Game Of Thrones: Season 2, Heroes: Season 2, The Pacific, Burn Notice: Season 1, Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection, The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 1
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#18 of 76 OFFLINE   Ken Garrison

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Posted June 25 2002 - 04:37 PM

HOLY F***in' S**T!! IS THAT what the OAR version of speed looks like. I WANT THAT DVD!!!!! I bet it's like watching a whole new movie watching it in OAR. I've only seens the crappy P&S version. I WANT THAT DVD!!!! GIMMIE GIMMIE GIMMIE!!!!!

#19 of 76 OFFLINE   JohnS



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Posted June 25 2002 - 04:54 PM

EASTER EGG A hidden icon may be found in the upper right corner of disc two's main menu. Selecting it will display the credits for the DVD on several screens, then select the bus icon on the last text screen and you may never rent a pair of earphones for an in-flight movie again...


#20 of 76 OFFLINE   Brian Harnish

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Posted June 25 2002 - 06:54 PM

Awesome! I've been holding off buying the current release of Speed due to its sub-par transfer. I can't wait for July 30th when I'll finally be able to see this film on DVD. Posted Image

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