Speed (Blu-ray) (1994)

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Released 21-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Jan De Bont (Director)
Audio Commentary-Graham Yost (Screenwriter) and Mark Gordon (Producer)
Trivia-Trivia Track (Text)
Game-Speed Take Down
Trailer-Speed
Theatrical Trailer-League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 115:53
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jan De Bont
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Keanu Reeves
Dennis Hopper
Sandra Bullock
Joe Morton
Jeff Daniels
Alan Ruck
Glenn Plummer
Richard Lineback
Beth Grant
Hawthorne James
Carlos Carrasco
David Kriegel
Natsuko Ohama
Case ?
RPI ? Music Mark Mancina


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The aptly titled Speed (1994) has a thrilling excitement, velocity, and momentum that's been seldom matched by other summer blockbusters. Speed was originally released on VHS tape and laserdisc, before arriving on DVD in Australia back in 1999. It was later re-released on DVD as a much better two-disc special edition in 2002. Now, 12 years since it debuted in our cinemas, and with much further advancement in home theatre technology, Speed arrives as a great Blu-ray disc (BD). Sure the movie has plot-holes that you can drive a speeding bus through, but at the end of the day, Speed is one of the all-time great pop-corn films. Now this action-packed thrill-ride can be experienced in high definition with dts-HD Lossless Master Audio!

     Speed has an opening sequence which most films would be proud to call their climax. And it only builds from there – Speed is a relentless action movie that hurtles toward its nail-biting climax in fast-forward. Indeed, each set piece and action sequence is packed with the sum thrills of many other great action films combined.

    Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) is a young hotshot LA cop who is impetuous and driven. He relies on gut instincts and raw courage. Jack is teamed with a more cautious, wise-cracking partner, Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels). Harry warns Jack: "Guts will get you so far, and then they'll get you killed".

    In the highly tense, edge-of-your-seat opening sequence, these two SWAT cops find themselves battling against time to save a group of passengers in a high-rise elevator from plummeting to their deaths. A deranged bomber, Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), has severed the elevator's cables inside the LA skyscraper, and he's demanding a $3 million ransom or he'll blow the emergency cables.

    Jack and Harry manage to foil Payne's plan, and in doing so, they earn his anger and hatred. In revenge, Payne rigs a LA public bus with C4 explosives, so once it exceeds 50mph a hidden bomb will become armed. If the bus' speed drops below 50mph, the bomb will detonate. In their game of cat and mouse, Payne allows Jack to board the bus and alert the passengers to the situation.

    So now, Jack finds himself barreling down the then unfinished LA Century Freeway with other passengers in a bus that will explode if it drops under 50mph. Driving the bus is the perky, cute-as-a-button Annie (Sandra Bullock), who was a passenger on the bus, but now is courageously filling in for the wounded bus-driver. Jack and Annie must find a way to keep the careening bus from running out of fuel – and running out of road – while the authorities try to work something out.

    All four of the leading actors are brilliant in their roles, but the two stand-outs are Reeves and Hopper. Following Point Break with Speed, Reeves makes his second welcome appearance as an action leading man. Meanwhile, Hopper's deliciously obsessive psychopath is thoroughly enjoyable and chilling as a screen-villain.

    Speed marks the brilliant directorial debut of cinematographer Jan De Bont. His work as a cinematographer includes the films: Die Hard, Black Rain, The Hunt for Red October, Basic Instinct, and Lethal Weapon 3. De Bont has only directed four films since Speed, and it's fair to say that his directing career has been a mixed bag since his auspicious debut. On one hand his next project was the wonderful home theatre gem Twister, but on the other hand, his three following films were the potentially wonderful but thoroughly disappointing Speed 2: Cruise Control, The Haunting, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Speed might be 12 years old, but the high definition transfer is great. It has been mastered in 1920 x 1080p, using AVC MPEG-4 compression.

    The transfer accurately reflects the film's original print, and it is noticeably sharper and more detailed than both previous DVD releases.

    The transfer is beautifully presented in 16x9 enhanced high definition video, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This is the film's original theatrical ratio.

    As one should expect with a high definition transfer, the sharpness of the image is excellent. For example, consider the clarity in the Santa Monica Bus Route sign at 26:44, or the detail in the overhead crane shot of the airport at 68:54. The black level is excellent, with true deep blacks. The shadow detail is great too, such as inside the lift shaft at 10:17, and inside the bar at 25:40.

    The colour palette is very good, with a lot of richly saturated hues and bright summer tones for the LA bus sequences. The skin tones are fairly accurate, but at times they seem slightly oversaturated.

    The transfer enjoys a bit rate that usually sits between 19 and 30 Mbps. There is some grain present in the source material, but as you can imagine, there are no noticeable problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. A few tiny film artefacts appear throughout. These are mostly pin-prick sized white or black flecks, and almost impossible to spot. Considering the age of the source material, this is a very clean transfer.

    20 subtitle streams are included. The English ones are slightly simplified, but accurate.

    This is a BD-25 disc. The feature is divided into 32 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Speed won Oscars for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound. The film boasts an excellent and enveloping sound design, and the BD's audio is wonderful!

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Digital 5.1, dts, and SDDS, the BD offers three audio options. The first is an English dts-HD Lossless Master Audio for the feature. This format can potentially support an unlimited number of surround sound channels, and downmix to 5.1 if required. In a way, this is 'future-proofing' as currently there are no Blu-ray or HD-DVD players that are able to decode the dts-HD Master Audio, but all Blu-ray and HD-DVD players can currently decode the dts-HD "core" 5.1 audio at 1.5 Mbps. I understand that firmware upgrades in the near future (via download) will address this situation. The two audio commentaries are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (224 kbps).

    There is extensive use of ADR, but the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.

    The musical score is credited to Mark Mancina, and it is suitably exciting as it underscores the onscreen tension and action well.

    As with the previous DVD releases, the surround presence and activity is brilliant. The wonderfully immersive sound-stage features excellent use of ambience, as well as a great deal of rear directional effects, such as when Jack is swerving through the traffic at 34:22 and the noisy subway train at 102:23. The score can also be heard effectively from the rears throughout.

    As one would expect, this is a LFE-heavy audio track. From the shootouts to the deafening explosions, such as the bus explosion at 27:55, the subwoofer is used very extensively and effectively throughout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The audio commentaries from the two-disc special edition DVD (2002) have made a return, along with some new Blu-ray exclusives, but the featurettes from the two-disc special edition DVD are not included as extras. Perhaps a BD-50 disc should have been used to preserve the original extras?

Audio Commentary 1

    Jan De Bont (director) provides a thoughtful, screen-specific commentary in which he discusses various aspects of the film in detail. This is the same commentary from the special edition DVD.

Audio Commentary 2

    In a more interesting commentary, Graham Yost (screenwriter) and Mark Gordon (producer) provide a chatty, and at times funny screen-specific commentary. Along the way they provide a lot of detail and anecdotes from the production. Again, this commentary has been lifted from the Special Edition DVD.

Trivia Track

    With this option activated, trivia relating to the film's production appears as text onscreen during the film.

Search Content

    This options allows the viewer to search for specific content, using a list of words in the menu.

Personal Scene Selections

    This option allows the viewer to select certain scenes, to watch in the sequence they choose.

Speed Take Down Game

    This option allows the viewer to play as Jack Traven or Howard Payne. The BD Java game uses footage from the film, with a graphical interface overlaid on the top of the images. The game relies on the user using their remote to plant or diffuse bombs.

Trailers

Web Links

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Speed was released on Blu-ray in Region A (North America), and in terms of content, the discs are identical. Speed has not been released on HD-DVD.

    Note that as mentioned above, the featurettes from the two-disc special edition DVD are not included as extras.

Summary

    If you're high definition capable, then I would suggest upgrading your DVD copy of Speed. But you might want to hang on to the two-disc DVD release for the featurettes, (if you're a fan of the extras).

    The video quality is great.

    The audio quality is also great.

    The extras are slim but genuine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSamsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)
SpeakersSamsung

Other Reviews NONE
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