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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

Speed Racer (3-disc) [Blu-ray]

 

(Andy Wachowski + Larry Wachowski, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio:

Warner Home Video
 

Discs:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Feature Runtime: 2:15:00

Chapters: 30

Feature film disc size: 20.6 Gig (single-layered)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 16th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1

 

Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, DUBs: French: Dolby Digital 1.0, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles:
Feature: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, none
 

Supplements:

• Featurette: Spritle in the Big Leagues (14:35 - SD)
Featurette: Speed Racer: Super Charged (15:38 - SD)
Featurette: Speed Racer: Car-Fu Cinema (27:39 - SD)

Disc 2

Game

Disc 3

Digital Copy

 

Product Description: Born to race cars, Speed Racer is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized - the legendary Rex Racer, whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill. Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer, the designer of Speed's thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company's maniacal owner but uncovers a terrible secret - some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won't drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line. The only way for Speed to save his family's business and the sport he loves is to beat Royalton at his own game. With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie, Speed teams with his one-time rival - the mysterious Racer X - to win the race that had taken his brother's life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible...

 

 

 

The Film:

You’ve got to hand it to the Wachowski Brothers, they don’t do things by halves. They were last seen cramming the back-to-back Matrix sequels so full of references to obscure anime, classical fantasy and Jean Baudrillard’s philosophy of symbolic exchange and hyperreality, it was the first known sighting of ‘dumbing up’. The films became interminable. They have now arrived at Speed Racer, once known as Mach Go Go Go, an anime TV series from the late 1960s that spilled into the daydreams of American boys.

Word has it - and they never talk - they were weaned on its brilliantine Scalectrix-world of loop-the-loops and banking curves, its bright buzz of colour and characters equally defined in bold rudimentary tones.

 

This was not your typical anime huddled beneath clouds of apocalyptic menace; here was a sun soaked, sweet-wrapper coloured universe obsessed with motor sport, centred on the conveniently surnamed Racer family. In particular, the full-throttle adventures of middle-son Speed, a dumb-lug who can make the T-180 race cars leap and spin, smashing competitors in what the directors have knowingly christened ‘car-fu’. Nodding to both Goldfinger and Ben-Hur, the cars come armed with naughty extras like drill-loaded hubcaps and oil slicks.

Excerpt from Empire Magazine (UK) located HERE

 

Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Holy Moley! Color exhibited by the 20.6 Gig of space on the single-layered Blu-ray is totally over-the-top. A lot is artificially fabricated but much is just great art direction and production. Either way it looks absolutely amazing. There is no image on DVD or Blu-ray that I can compare this with. What it very minor-ly lacks in detail it more than makes up for in the color brightness, brilliance and contrast. This Blu-ray is demonstration quality. Warner appears to have gone a shade lower-tier with the single-layering and the, now standard, 5.1 audio but, regardless, I can't imagine how much more this could have been elevated. This is the most extravagant visual feast I've ever seen in m y home theater. This transfer quality is healthy enough to endorse solely based on the image (forget the film's guts) and there is no DNR or edge enhancement that I could detect. This image is crisp, clean and totally outrageous. The screen captures (linked to full-resolution versions) could probably do a better job of selling the image quality than my words.

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
The 5.1 track is aggressive and quite buoyant. It is the only option with no TrueHD, Lossless or similar choice. There are three foreign language DUBs. The audio quality of Speed Racer is almost as impressive as the video with head-turning incidents abounding. Sound effects tend to overpower dialogue at times but it's not fatal. Rumbling car engines, crowd cheers and some occasional explosions can really rock the floorboards. The original score by Michael Giacchino seems well supported and we are given Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" to boot. Subtitles are offered in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

 

Extras:
Not too much with three SD featurettes (totaling about an hour's worth) although there are two extra discs - one with a game (untested) and another with the digital copy of the film. The Car-Fu Cinema bit has input from Goodman, Ricci and many others plus a healthy look at the original Japanese anime impetus of the story. There are no exclusive
Blu-ray features that I could discern.

 

Bottom line:
Well.... D'uh - YEAH! This was a ton of fun and everyone I've shown it too watches open-mouthed at the first 15 minutes. And if you want your speakers to get a workout - well Speed Racer can deliver. The
Blu-ray image is.... magnificent - period. This is kind of like an enhanced live-action Cars with way more intensity. Absolutely a thumbs up!  

Gary Tooze

September 10th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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