Drive Angry - Special Edition Blu-ray Review
Drive Angry comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray with a decent enough 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Detail is generally good throughout, the movie boasting an over-stylised but essentially grindhouse look which warrants a certain level of grit and grain – and that’s exactly what you get. The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, just how you’d expect it, with plenty of colourful explosions, deep mahoganies, rich reds and solid blacks; a winner in all respects. Shadow delineation is good, and softness is largely non-existent, with no overtly irritating signs of edge enhancement or other digital defects. A little more grit wouldn’t have gone astray, actually, since some of the poor CG is all the more evident on such a shiny transfer. Still, though not demo quality, it is a good offering.
On the aural front we get an arguably excessively bombastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. You might think that this is perfectly suitable for the material, but I think it goes way over the top, coming across as more irritating than effective for the majority of the time. Blunt force trauma all the way, somewhere in there we get coherent enough dialogue, but there’s no question that this offering is all about in-your-face effects and pounding beats. The opening scene should have you convinced, and just about every other (frequent) moment of crazy action hammers home the point. Directionality and separation go out of the window, this is not about subtle nuances, atmospherics or even accuracy, it’s shotgun-blast all the way in its approach; bludgeoning you into submission every opportunity it gets. So if you’re looking for wake your neighbours material, which will leave your ears sore, then turn this baby up. But I’m not sure “very loud” equates to “very good” and therefore this too misses out on a demo quality award.
First up we get an Audio Commentary with the Director Patrick Lussier and the Writer Todd Farmer. One of the guys (I think it’s Farmer) has a painfully gravely voice – not in a cool way, in a “I’ve got a sore throat and I’m about to lose my voice” kind of way, and it gets VERY irritating after only a few moments. Honestly, I couldn’t hack it, couldn’t they have waited for his voice to recover?? There are a few barely coherent snippets of trivia, background info and whatnot – you know what to expect – so fans of the movie will no doubt want to attempt to sit through this and decipher the rather strange vocals, but it is not a generally pleasant experience.
Access: Drive Angry is an interactive viewing experience which allows you to track Milton’s mayhem, view interviews with the cast and filmmakers and enjoy trivia and facts as you watch the movie. You can select your preferences to explore only the bits you want to – with three selectable sub-headings of Cast & Crew Insights (which offers up interview snippets from the relevant personnel); Milton’s Mayhem (that allocates points for the damage he causes) and Did You Know? (which is the trivia). This is easily the highlight of the extras.
Disappointing and utterly redundant, I have no idea why they gave us these two particular snippets – surely there must have been something more interesting than a bit more marital dispute and the fake FBI guy hitching a ride? Seriously pointless extra material.
Drive Angry takes itself far too seriously, angrily bashing at you with its dodgy effects and 3D-designed action-scape, it’s aggressive and over-the-top soundtrack, and a story which warrants little more than a cursory glance whilst the gunshots are ringing out. Nicolas Cage deserves, and has done, far better – even in terms of cheesy action flicks this one hasn’t got either the tongue-in-cheek feel or the right marketing to succeed as the purely grindhouse exploitation flick that it could have so easily been. Instead we get it’s vapid and vacuous through and through, leaving you tired and not in the least bit satisfied by the end of it. A shame, because the premise of a gun-toting vigilante breaking out of hell to rescue his baby granddaughter from a satanic cult isn’t half bad. It’s just a shame that there’s nothing more to it than that. A good idea. A frivolously shallow realisation.
Coming to Region-A locked US Blu-ray just three months after its theatrical release is surely not a good sign for any movie, not least an a-list-starring vehicle like this, which was supposed to be a hit because of its 3D aspect (or gimmick). Although no doubt it loses some of its lustre in 2D (not least because it has been tailored specifically for in-your-face 3D moments), the video and audio presentation on this release are far from bad, and we get a couple of extras to accompany the disc which should please any fan. If you’re still tempted by this movie, try a rental first. I’d like to say that you might discover that it’s a nice, silly, over-the-top actioner which will fit in nicely alongside Crank or one of the Grindhouse flicks (or even Machete), but that’s all I was looking for and I was still disappointed.
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