Fast & Furious 5: Extended Cut - Triple Play Edition Blu-ray Review
Fast & Furious 5 comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with reference-quality video, presented in 1080p High Definition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, both in terms of fine object detail and on the longer, more panoramic shots. There is no sign of any DNR, edge enhancement, banding or other digital defects, and, conversely, the image exhibits no softness whatsoever. A fine layer of suitably cinematic grain pervades the piece and gives it that nice filmic sheen. Contrast is strong, and the colour scheme allows for a wide variety of rich and vibrant tones, the broad palette making the most of the various exotic locations that the movie jumps to. Skin tones are bordering on the hot side, everybody looking very well-tanned, and The Rock is (randomly) sweating throughout – and you can literally see every bead! There's little to complain about, although one tiny distraction came when following Gal Gadot's bikini-clad butt sway gracefully across the screen - her curves losing a tiny bit of focus around the edges. Still, it's only noticeable because that's where my attention was drawn. Overall this is a superb video presentation and one that comes just shy of a perfect 10.
On the aural front we get a wholly bombastic audio track which does everything required of it in a movie like this. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely emanating from the fronts and centre channels, although, admittedly – and expectedly – it takes a back-seat to the rest of the track for the majority of the proceedings. Effects are normally of the loud, in-your-face variety, all car or gun-related sounds: engines being gunned, tyres squealing, and massive crashes; handgun, SMG, assault rifle, grenade, and even rocket launchers. Explosions will rock your living room, with some use of the bass element to bring out your lower end channel (although not quite as much as you might have expected) and a fair amount of dynamics on offer – the cars and bullets whizzing nicely across the surrounds. Unfortunately the quieter moments are not really immersive at all, as if the speakers have lost their softer touch. The score is also pretty generic but it still works perfectly well for the movie. Overall it’s a strong mix which just edges out of reference territory due to a couple of marginally underwhelming elements – but you shouldn’t be too put off, this is still a great accompaniment for the film.
This latest Fast & Furious franchise entry comes to Blu-ray with an extras-packed disc, and thankfully the extras provided are both engaging, and pretty comprehensive on the whole.
Arguably the most engaging, interactive and informative offering, this option allows you to watch the movie with a Picture-in-Picture element which pops up in the bottom right hand corner and offers up background into the relevant sequences, behind the scenes footage, effects breakdown, cast and crew interview snippets and basically everything you would want from a Picture-in-Picture track. There is also the Scene Explorer option which allows you access to the Previsualisations, Dailies and Behind the Scenes Footage via a split-screen selection toolbar – a great added touch, particularly for the key action sequences. (available on the Theatrical Edition only)
Feature Commentary with Director Justin Lin. This is quite an informative offering, and clearly Lin, who has been involved in the last three films, has a great deal of interesting history to tell about the franchise, but it comes across as marginally disjointed and occasionally a little monotonous. That said, there is plenty to glean here – from the elaborate work done for the stunts, to reuniting the cast and establishing a middle segment in what is, ultimately, supposed to be a second trilogy. Fans will want to listen to this for the titbits on offer, but it might be worth dipping in and out of it in order to sustain absorption.
This release comes brimming with short Featurettes, each looking at key scenes / elements from the movie. Split into The Big Train Heist, Reuniting the Team, A New Set of Wheels, Dom's Journey, Brian O'Connor: From Fed to Con, Enter Federal Agent Hobbs, Dom vs. Hobbs, On Set with Director Justin Lin, and Inside the Vault Chase (there’s also a Tyrese TV 6 minute video diary from the set), it’s just a shame we don’t get a play-all option as each offering runs at 5-10 minutes in length. The topics covered are fairly easy to guess given the names of the Featurettes: looking at the massive opening and closing sequences (the most elaborate from any of the films in the series), the returning cast members (complete with interview snippets from all of them), the new cars involved in this entry, the evolution of the lead characters from the first movie through to this one, and the introduction of the new character played by The Rock, as well as the highly anticipated face-off between him and Vin Diesel. They are all interesting offerings but, again, it would have been nice to have the ability to play them as one.
Here we get just 110 seconds of extra footage (one might wonder why it wasn’t included as well in the extended cut – it certainly would have stood out more than added CG blood), split into two short scenes: an extra couple of lines when they first arrive in Brazil, and a new scene where The Rock briefly shows off some actual skills as a detective. Worth checking out.
We also get separate DVD and Digital copy discs (the DVD also sporting both cuts).
Anybody who has seen 2009's Fast & Furious should know exactly what to expect from this latest entry in the seemingly unstoppable franchise. I certainly enjoyed that movie, it was a strong contender for the best of the bunch, and this year's sequel, Fast Five, manages to deliver an enjoyable, flashy, often unintentionally funny, stunts-laden action-vehicle, whilst catering for a massive family reuinion of pretty-much all the actors ever involved in the series. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson makes a welcome entry as the new dumb muscle in town, chasing down the underground racers-turned-bank robbers around the streets of Rio as they take on a nasty crime lord and the corrupt cops on his payroll. Unfortunately, even for a brainless blockbuster, the plot is hampered by a highly unnecessary and immensely slow middle segment – which could have easily been left out entirely – but it's still bolstered by some fun foot- and street-chases, a plethora of increasingly over-the-top stunts and a welcome showdown between Vin Diesel and The Rock; the end result should leave most Fast & Furious fans satisfied.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get excellent video and audio, as well as a comprehensive selection of extras that covers all the bases. There’s also the Extended Cut (don't be fooled by the cover - despite not mentioning it, this is the same as the US release, complete with the Extended Cut) although it's not going to convince non-fans to suddenly convert – the differences largely amounting to louder body blows and CG bullet impacts which easily go unnoticed unless you’re doing a screen-to-screen comparison. Fans should consider this a worthy release to buy, and those who enjoy the franchise should regard this as not only one of the better entries, but also one of the better releases. Newcomers should start off earlier in the series – the first movie, or, if you’ve seen that, then Fast & Furious, because this entry leads directly on. Overall, if this is your kind of film, you likely won’t be disappointed.
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