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Speed (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Last year, there was the doom and gloom word that catalog titles were damned in the eyes of Disney. That only their fresh, shiny new stuff “might” be getting 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray releases. Sorry about all of you that love those classic Fox titles, they care even less on those. Everything was going all into the era of Disney+. However, a stunner and sign of hope came with the announcement of Speed (and Heat) coming to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. And I can attest that Speed is very real. Word has it that the remaining Alien films will be coming too. Now, its unclear whether this is Disney’s doing or if this is some sort of clean up from things already finished or worked on at Fox before the buyout. Nonetheless, I’ll take the win and enjoyment. Speed is hitting the streets, well, online stores on May 4th. So, step aside star wars, Keanu and Sandra are going to give you some force this year. You can pre-order this using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review.

Film

Los Angeles police officer Jack (Keanu Reeves) angers retired bomb squad member Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) by foiling his attempt at taking hostages. In revenge, Payne arms a bus with a bomb that will explode if it drops below 50 miles per hour. With the help of spunky passenger Annie (Sandra Bullock), Jack and his partner Harry (Jeff Daniels) try to save the people on the bus before the bomb goes off, while also trying to figure out how Payne is monitoring them.

When talking about blockbuster cinema of the 90s, you can’t touch on it without bringing up the “Die Hard on a bus” thriller Speed. The film was quite a phenomenon, making a significant mark in pop culture. It launched the super stardom of Sandra Bullock and propelled Keanu Reeves into one of the top leading men. While being a film in the wake of Die Hard imitators, it sure was the best of them, easily besting pretty much all of that original’s sequels. Everything came together and came together quite well for Jan De Bont and company with the pure action film.

Speed essentially has really core elements told in such exciting ways. There are your standard 3 acts, but each of them is a different type of action set piece. And interesting enough, every action set piece is set around some mode of public transportation. We open up on an elevator bit, the body of the film revolves around the bus, and the finale is aboard a subway car. Its all rather clever and set around a bit of a cheesy kind of Riddler-like villain, but it all works out. And the movie knows it is heightened cinema and tips its hat to you the moment we see the cop car fly over the hill. Speed is not afraid to be just a damn fun movie.

Four years ago, along with Aaron Neuwirth and Scott Mendelson (Forbes), I recorded an audio commentary where we talked in great detail on Speed. For your listening pleasure, you can hear it by clicking HERE. If you enjoy Speed, you’re going to love this!

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Speed arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the very first time and looks absolutely beautiful in doing so. Colors are far more bold and saturated now. The image is nice and sharp with a feeling that roars off of the screen. Where things really improve from its Blu-ray counterpart is the black levels. Overall, looking at it, people will be really happy with how Speed has turned out in its first rodeo on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty impressive here and the sense of scale throughout the film is quite engaging. The pushback of foreground to background really opens up, from the bus interior to the elevator shaft to the airport. Motion is smooth, natural and has no issues regarding motion distortion.

Black Levels:  Blacks are very rich and natural. This improvement really helps cultivate and round things out in the image, giving more dimension, depth and contrast on the colors. Finer details show through on darker patches with ease. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are rather in the “regular” or normal fashion, but with better saturation, they look more lifelike and can still strike a good chord in the right moments. Good contrast leads to some nice HDR moments, including really bursting orange fire.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features like freckles, make-up lines, wrinkles, scarring, moles and more come through quite easily and are visible from any given distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 DTS Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 DTS Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, German, Japanese

Dynamics: Before my disc arrived, I had already heard about some controversy or sourness over this audio track. First, yeah, super bummed they didn’t take the time to mix a new Atmos track. The 5.1 mix, I found to actually be plenty effective and rather good. However, you need to crank your volume up to get to that satisfaction. The default volume for Speed is set pretty darn low in comparison to other discs. I had to bump it up 8-10 clicks from my normal comfort area to get it satisfactory. Once there, the mix really does have some nice punch and dynamics to it. You just have to do a little bit of work.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer does a decent job of throwing down explosions, gunshots, fires, crashes and bumps in the score. It is probably the place I’d look to most to improve this track, but it does the job well enough.

Surround Sound Presentation:  While we don’t get a full ranching up, down and all around mix, what we have here is pretty scattered and thorough. There are some moments with unique sounds or the channels building in harmony to throw a scene together that are very impressive. Simulating Atmos on here also is quite admirable from this track.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Speed comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. No new extras are on this release. Commentaries are on the 4K UHD disc, but the featurettes are found on the standard Blu-ray.

4K UHD

Audio Commentary

  • By Jan De Bont
  • By Graham Yost and Mark Gordon

Blu-ray

Action Sequences

  • Bus Jump (SD, 9:38)
  • Metorail Crash (SD, 6:18)

Inside Speed

  • On Location (SD, 7:21)
  • Stunts (SD, 12:09)
  • Visual Effects (SD, 9:14)
  • HBO First Look: The Making of Speed (SD, 24:13)

Extended Scenes (SD, 12:07)

Trailers And TV Spots (SD, 8:10)

Speed Music Video By Billy Idol (SD, 4:35)

Summary

Speed remains an absolute action classic and one of the best blockbusters of all time. Holds up splendidly. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray has a fantastic video presentation and, if you turn the audio up, the mix is quite well served too. No new extras, but the upgrade is well worth it and a nice one to have in the collection as always!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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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).

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