Need For Speed (Blu-ray Review)

Need-For-SpeedVideo game movies have yet to really “take off” like the comic book ones.  There’s many attempts, but aside from the Resident Evil franchise, none have really taken off.  They don’t usually dominate the box office and are usually met with mixed critical reviews at best.  However, fans will tell you, these games have such great stories at the video game stage but they just don’t quite translate for some reason to the big screen.  I don’t know what it is, but maybe they’re just more cinematic at the console level with interaction instead of being a feature film.  Who knows.  Back in the spring, we got an adaptation of Need For Speed.  Its something that seemed like you could translate and then infuse your own touch as a filmmaker with.  It was open for a story to be added to the car racing.  However, this one didn’t quite stick with America, but it did do quite well with overseas audiences.  It now comes to Blu-ray where maybe it will pick up some people that didn’t get to the theater to see it.

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Tobey Marshall is a former race car driver who now owns a garage on the New York countryside.  To make ends meet, he and his crew engage in street races for cash.  One day, Tobey’s rival Dino Brewster arrives and needs him to complete the legendary Ford Shelby Mustang.  Dino offers 25% of the 2 million the car will sell for.  Its purchased by English woman Julia, whom Tobey shows off the car’s speed of 234 mph.  Dino is furious that Tobey drove the car and not him and challenges he and his friend Pete (Dino’s girlfriend’s sister, Tobey’s ex) to a race with some illegal cars, offering his 75% of the Mustang deal if they win.  During the race, Tobey is winning but Dino flips Pete’s car, killing him in a heinous accident.  Tobey is sent to jail for it and Dino is nowhere to be found.  Two years later, Tobey is released from prison and gets Julia to let him borrow the Mustang to compete in the super secret De Leon race to get his revenge on Dino and clear his name.

Need For Speed is just as they advertised, an old school car movie.  There’s plenty of thrilling car chases with practical stuntwork and great tracking filmmaking.  It takes the stage front and center and easily overshadows some of the goofiness and shortcomings that our story may bring.  There are many different environments traveled to, cars used and silly situations that bring about a mighty and fun chase that is fun to watch.  For the most part, Need For Speed is exactly what you want from popcorn entertainment.  It came down to how the chases were going to be for this movie, and I really think they do a good job in making them the star.

Since I left college, my video gaming has dwindled from minimal to nonexistent.  Though, in the 90s, I was pretty attached to my Sony Playstation.  And was indeed a fan of the Need For Speed games.  I haven’t touched one since then, but oh my if I wasn’t transported back to my youth playing those games with this movie.  Some of the angles, techniques, situations and cars used in the film sent me right back.  It was also very much in the spirit of the games I was such a fan of.  I have to credit Scott Waugh with immediately making me feel like playing these games was just yesterday.

It’s probably mainly the fact that I enjoy Aaron Paul that I was able to get on board with Tobey right away.  He and Imogen Poots also shared some solid chemistry.  She also brings a bit of fun to the table with the character of Julia as well.  The people in this film weren’t very deep, but I found them enjoyable, and they all played up the ridiculous aspect of things quite well.  And Dominic Cooper.  What a sonuvabitch.  I must credit his performance with wanting to slap the shit out of the guy while watching the movie.  We also are treated to a cross between Wolfman Jack and Betelgeuse from Michael Keaton, who obviously filmed all of his stuff in one day, but was truly an enjoyable presence whenever he showed up in the film.

Maybe this movie and I were just in the right time and the right place, but I just found myself having a lot of fun with the film.  Cars/car chases over substance I suppose.  I was really taken with the stunts and devotion to really making this a movie with a bunch of car chases in different environments and different crazy scenarios (very much like the game was back when I played it).  There’s a real passion for shooting the chases and using practical stuntwork that hops onto the screen in the film.  With no Fast & Furious film this year, this is a nice little “filler” for the car action while we eagerly await that next film.  Its no masterpiece, its not “sheer greatness”, but it is a pretty fun cross-country silly car chase movie with real action and dangerous stunt work.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a really clear, sharp and glossy picture.  Detail is extremely high.  Look no further than the cars themselves as you can see every pinch of dirt, scuffs, dents and damage like you’re looking at it in person.

Depth: At one point I think this was going to be a 3D movie.  The dimensional work for this movie is off the charts.  There are some great aerial shots, and the scenes in front of or following the cars are tremendous.  This release is one of the best depth examples I’ve seen on Blu-ray.

Black Levels:  Black levels are inky and rich.  Does a good job of keeping the crushing to a bare minimum.

Color Reproduction: The film sort of has a yellow tint to it.  There are some scenes masked in the ever popular blue and amber just like the poster.  Colors are bold and do pop.

Flesh Tones:  Warm and consistent.  Slightly yellow because of the filter I mentioned above.  Tons of detail on facial features like stubble, wrinkles, moles and injuries.

Noise/Artifacts:  Zilch.

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Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Video Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French Spanish

Dynamics:  This 7.1 track is the highlight of this release.  Its incredibly dynamic and exhilarating, making you feel like you’re part of the action.  Loud and proud, there a terrific balance of score, sound effects and dialogue.  There’ s a lot of volume shifts and a clarity to every little piece of sound coming from your speakers.  Need For Speed’s 7.1 track is an incredible amount of fun and truly enhances the viewing experience.

Low Frequency Extension: Your subwoofer will get a workout with this one.  Car engines revving, crashing and hitting the gas vibrate your viewing area.  Some explosions also feel like they’re happening right in front of you.  Even the car doors shutting are enhanced and feel like you just shut it.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is a tremendous orchestration of cars flying by.  They come from behind you, from the side, pass right through you and bounce all around.  Also when two cars are riding alongside each other they each get to grab a front and side speaker to left and right respectively.  And right to left and vice versa is put to work on this surround track.

Dialogue Reproduction:  The 3 C’s; clean, crisp and clear.

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Need For Speed comes with a Digital Copy of the film.  The extras provided are quite an informative lot and leave one extremely satisfied, perfectly commenting and adding more appreciation for the feature.

Audio Commentary – Features the film’s director Scott Waugh and star Aaron Paul.

Capturing Speed: Making An Authentic Car Movie (HD, 9:45) – The making of the film, featuring interviews from cast, crew and Steven Spielberg about adapting this video game, but more importantly creating a genuinely old school “car movie”.

Ties That Bind (HD, 12:04) – The story of the stunt team behind the film which not only happens to be a family, but also lifelong family friends of director Scott Waugh.  This is actually a pretty fun and touching piece on the live of a stuntman and his family who have taken up dad’s business.

The Circus Is In Town (HD, 10:50) – This chronicles the travels and locations across the US that the movie shot.  It’s pretty impressive and eye opening to see how “all over” they really went to get this movie done.

Monarch And Maverick Outtakes (HD, 1:43) – Some unused improv bits from Michael Keaton and Scott Mescudi.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:09) – Each deleted or extended scene features a video intro from director Scott Waugh.

The Sound Of Need For Speed (HD, 9:25) – Focuses on not only the score, but the foley and production sounds.  Even shows some footage of researching sounds and going out and recording them.

Need For Speed: Rivals Trailer (HD, 1:25) – A trailer for what I assume is the upcoming video game in this series.



Need For Speed was a fun silly car chase movie for me.  It may be one of those that’s more enjoyable at home than theater because I didn’t have to trek out and pop down some money for a screening and could watch at my own leisure.  This Blu-ray is perfection in terms of audio and video which may have just enhanced my enjoyment and appreciation for the film as my living room felt like I was in the driver’s seat of the Mustang.  The extras were surprising as I expect EPK stuff and wound up getting some really great, informative featurettes that increased my appreciation for the film and educated me quite a bit on the production.  I definitely think the film itself is a more than solid rental, but if you’re going to buy it, you’re getting more than your money’s worth with the presentation and extras.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Need For Speed (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Sounds like this is a good Blu-ray to own!!!