Baby Driver Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
It's all about the timing
Edgar Wright orchestrates musical mayhem in Baby Driver – a stylish, inventive and entertaining getaway flick.Set to a superb soundtrack, writer/director Edgar Wright's thrumming labour of love, Baby Driver, is more of a musical than it is a getaway movie in the mold of Drive, but this is no La La Land either, with every footstep, door slam, or thunderous bullet fired perfectly timed to become a part of the score itself, setting a mechanical, but still organic beat for the movie to play out against. It's impossibly fine-tuned and expertly orchestrated, creating one hell of an audiovisual experience, the likes of which you may have never encountered before. Wright does well in the cast and characters camp too, with a colourful collection of familiar heist/getaway 'types' on offer, perfect for this kind of comic book-style fare, and Ansel Elgort's titular Baby at the centre of it all, his whole life revolving around music.The impossibly good getaway driver, Baby, is run by Kevin Spacey's 'manager', and has to drive for various crews across the film, encountering outright psychos and cold, calculating killers alike, including the suitably volatile Jamie Foxx and the slick Jon Hamm, but a chance meeting with Lily James's waitress makes him yearn for something different in his life. Wright doesn't do anything new with the generic plot, and even misses a few steps in his messy final act (which includes an odd about-turn from Spacey's character and a horror movie-worthy succession of false endings and LOTR epilogues) but the overall package is still fresh and innovative in its delivery; an expertly choreographed ballet, the likes of which other directors have attempted for scenes, but never for entire movies. It's impressive.
Picture QualityBaby Driver tears onto UK 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presented in 3840 x 2160p with a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, using 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range(HDR), encoded with the HEVC (H.265) codec. The UHD Blu-ray was reviewed on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Although an audiovisual experience, Baby Driver's wasn't particularly pretty on its cinema release, with its blend of 35 mm film, 2.8K digital photography, and 2K Digital Intermediate, leaving this upscaled 4K release to do the best it can with the piece. The end result is a strong effort, but it's not destined for demo material.
A strong visual effort, but not demo material
Detail receives a decent enough uptick over its 1080p counterpart, picking up on finer nuances and providing a more organically textured piece, with better defined facial details and background nuances, whilst the HDR and WCG components work their magic on the colour scheme and black levels, with stronger depth of colour tones allowing for a more vibrant palette, and deeper black levels and better peak whites providing heightened shadows revealing glimpses of hitherto underdeveloped shadow detail. The 1080p Blu-ray's more problematic aspects - including more softness than you'd expect and also more noise - appear to have been largely tempered here, but are not completely removed, and the end result, whilst a strong effort, is far from picture perfect.
Sound QualityThe accompanying Dolby Atmos track is far more easily recommended, centred on a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core that is superb in its own right, providing strong dialogue representation across the frontal array, whilst the effects and score - which are often one and the same given the stylistic design of the film - get tremendous coverage across the surrounds.
The entire film is built around the sound design and this Atmos track is demo all the way
From the tap of footsteps to the whoop of helicopter blades, the thrill of sirens to the thunder of automatic weapons fire, Wright's expertly-crafted soundtrack blends all of the more conventional effects noises into a majestic symphony of musical majesty, integrating them into the score to become integral elements in his vision. As much as it's celebrated as an outstanding audiovisual experience, it's the audio that stands out, with the visuals reminding you of where exactly the noises are derived from, but the audio timed to perfection to match up to the overlayed score. Surrounds make fine work of this source material, disseminating it with precision across the array, afforded discrete prioritisation, and weighted with full LFE throttle where required. In particular the thunderous shootouts and roaring engines are notable in this regard, but the whole sound design deserves applaud, leaving this an easy demo track and unquestionable reference material.
ExtrasSony's UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release matches up to the preceding US release on the extras front as well, offering up a strong selection of features that covers all the bases, headlined by a pair of Audio Commentaries, one by the Director going solo, reflecting on the 10 year voyage to get this piece made, and his ideas behind the characters and story, as well as the style of the piece, whilst the pairing with him and the Director of Photography for the second Commentary goes into more depth on the technical front.
A strong selection of extras
There are a half a dozen Making of Featurettes split into shorter 5-10 minute segments on Wright's work on the piece, the driving prep, the importance of music to the lead character, the supporting characters, the musical choreography and the stunts. There are also 20 minutes of Deleted and Extended Scenes, 35 minutes of Effects Animatics highlighting the evolution of the effects, and a quarter hour of revealing rehearsal footage, showing some of the cast auditioning for their roles. We also get a music video, a picture gallery and a trailer gallery, and the disc is rounded off by previews.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictThe overall package is fresh and innovative in its delivery; an expertly choreographed ballet
Sony's UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Baby Driver matches up to its preceding US counterpart, affording the film very good video and outstanding audio, as well as an excellent selection of extras, leaving this a recommended purchase for fans.
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