B†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: C+†††† Film: B
At a time
when Keanu Reeves endurance as a big star was still uncertain, Sandra Bullock
was unknown and Jan De Bont was only known as a cinematographer, the three
teamed up for a mid-level action project they all thought would have
potential.† It would be De Bontís
directorial debut, prove Reeves was more than just an icon of the 1980s and
made Bullock one of the biggest female movie stars in the world.† Promoted like another Die Hard clone, everyone soon learned that Speed (1994) had much more to offer and the result was a huge
worldwide blockbuster that remains a favorite to this day.
plays Annie Porter, a plain Jane type who finds herself taking on more than she
ever thought possible when a psychotic madman named Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper
brilliantly chewing up every scene he is in) who has a mad plot that this
domestic terrorist intends to go through with.†
The police are not aware of all that is about to happen, but Officer
Jack Traven (Reeves) will be closest to the scene and it will be up to him and
Annie to stop him.† Annie drives the bus!
set up a crazy device in a bus that will explode once it is activated and the
bus runs under 50 miles per hour.† That leads
to all kinds of split second decisions, crazy moves and the most unexpected
events you can imagine.† The Graham Yost
screenplay plays with dumbness and populism in amusing ways, some of which were
necessary to escape the 1980s Action cinema mode.† The result is an entertaining film that holds
up well over a dozen years later.
and Reeves have chemistry, something shockingly missing from their recent
disastrous reunion project The Lake
House, which deservedly bombed.†
However, here, they are very good together and they help make the film
work even when it has some problematic spots.†
Also helping are the solid supporting cast including Jeff Daniels, Joe
Morton, Glenn Plummer, Alan Ruck, Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, White Sands) and
Glenn Plummer.† The actors you donít
recognize by name you would certainly recognize by face, all of whom went on to
more success after this film hit.
also the kind of fun action film that was more possible pre-9/11 than
afterwards, but with that considered is not as exploitive as so many other
Action films from either period to the credit of those who worked hard to make
it fun and effective.† For that reason
alone, it is worth revisiting, but it also reminds us of a time not too long
ago before Hollywood got crazy with empty digital trickery that major studios
could turn out Action fare with some substance and make it work.
2.35 X 1 digital AVC @ 14 MBPS High Definition image on this 25GB disc is good,
but the film itself was shot on film stocks that never totally matched up if
you look closely.† However, since this
was shot in real anamorphic scope Panavision, it is nowhere near the problem it
would be if this were Super 35mm or especially HD shooting.† As a matter of fact, one of the great things
about the cinematography of Andrzej Bartkowiak (Prince Of The City, The
Verdict, Falling Down) is that
it is not plastered or manipulated with digital video or that the colors have
been desaturated or some nonsense like that.†
That actually helps this film, though the transfer is likely the same HD
master used for the old D-VHS D-Theater release, which means it has limits
sometimes associated with DVDs.
film arrived, it marked Foxís first-ever DTS theatrical release and this is the
fourth format the film has arrived in with a DTS track.† First was the 12Ē DTS LaserDisc that is
considered one of the best for sound ever released in that series.† Then a DTS DVD finally arrived after a lame
Dolby Digital-only disc, but the DTS mix was problematic, with choppiness and
balance issues I know were not in the theatrical version.† In 2003, the digital High Definition D-VHS
D-Theater was one of the titles in that format to actually offer DTS and
ironically, PCM 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds like the first 12Ē
LaserDiscs of the film.
first Blu-ray edition of the film offers the soundtrack in DTS HD 5.1 Master
Audio at its lossless 192/24 configuration and though the chip and equipment
for the full playback has not hit the market as of this posting, the bad news
is that this Oscar winner for Sound Editing is the same problematic mix from
the DTS DVD.† Those who can re-equalize
the sound with their receiver might find some relief, but this is just not the
mix at its best.† Mark Mancina turns in
what is still his best score to date and the sound mix has character with some
good moments.† To bad this is a little
out of whack.† Were the LaserDisc and
D-VHS mixes better?
are unfortunately limited on this 25GB version, offering the theatrical trailer
in HD, a trivia track, the superior reference abilities of this format and two
solid audio commentaries on the film.†
One is by De Bont, the other by Yost and producer Mark Gordon.† The double DTS DVD set has much more, but
Blu-ray fans will have to wait until a 50GB version for that.† Hopefully, the picture and sound will be
upgraded by then too.
early discs could not play on early Samsung players, but after comparing the
original and replacement versions, performance is the same and the reissue
discs work on all the players we tried it out on.† Speed
is bound to be a hot item with HD playback, but it is not definitive.† This version should keep fans just about
happy until then.
-†† Nicholas Sheffo