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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein


    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.
    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?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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!
    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.
    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
    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.
    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.
    To best describe what the included Production
    Design 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!
    An entire section is devoted to Action:
    sequences 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
    Storyboard 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.
    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
    Angeles 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
    trailer, 11 short television spots are
    also included.
    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
  2. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

    Jul 27, 2001
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    I'm all over it. Thanks for another great review Ron.

  3. AndrewA

    AndrewA Stunt Coordinator

    May 2, 2000
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    Sweet!!! Thanks Ron...I can't wait!

    It's releases like these that keeps Fox in my highest regard.
  4. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

    Jul 10, 2000
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    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.
  5. Joe Fisher

    Joe Fisher Screenwriter

    May 11, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Joseph E Fisher
    Thanks for another great review Ron. I'll be adding this one to my collection also. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Jeff Bamberger

    Jeff Bamberger Second Unit

    Sep 15, 1999
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    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. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

    Jun 17, 1999
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    Excellent review. Keep encouraging me to buy DVDs [​IMG]. The Fox logo always helps though.
  8. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Jan 16, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    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.
  9. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

    Jan 8, 1999
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    Must..... not..... pre....order... Yarggghhh TOO LATE!

  10. DanC

    DanC Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 5, 2000
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    There goes another $20...thanks Ron! [​IMG]
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    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
    3. DTS 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? [​IMG]
  12. James.M

    James.M Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 25, 2002
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    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.!![​IMG] Some very entertaining special features.
  13. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

    Mar 15, 1999
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    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    John Williamson
    "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!!! [​IMG]
    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 [​IMG], July 30th cannot come fast enough!
  14. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

    Aug 9, 1999
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    Baton Rouge, LA
    Real Name:
    Joel Fontenot
    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.

  15. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    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.
  16. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
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    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. [​IMG]
  17. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    I can finally add this film to my collection. Thanks for the review Ron.[​IMG]
  18. Ken Garrison

    Ken Garrison Supporting Actor

    Jun 1, 2002
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    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. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
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    John Steffens
    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. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

    Dec 15, 2000
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    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. [​IMG]

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