Silver Dream Racer Blu-ray Review
Well it certainly looks like a dream... a murky one.
As Rank Studios wound down into oblivion, their last flop out of the gate was this Brit bike racing drama, one of musician David Essex's rare lead acting gigs.When budding mid-range Brit motorcycle rider Nick Freeman discovers that his recently deceased brother left behind an experimental racing bike, he decides that he may have a shot at the big time, taking on long-term Yank rival Bruce McBride at the British Grand Prix. Shot using real motorcycle race footage (and terrible blue-screen work) it's arguably the racing - dated as it may be - that's the only thing about this production even vaguely worthy of note. The familiar underdog tale, notwithstanding the fancy bike that looks like a prop from Street Hawk, suffers from limited acting and a scrappy script.David Essex isn't exactly the worst musician-playing-actor, but is also hardly convincing as an aspiring racer, whilst a young Beau Bridges goes for over-the-top as his thoroughly unpleasant US nemesis. Shot (and acted) like a bad 80s TV show pilot, Silver Dream Racer's Box Office bombing was the final nail in the coffin of the film division of then-near-bankrupt conglomeration Rank, marking an apt final entry before said unit was dissolved. It's unremarkable and uneventful in every way, shot with no budget and borrowed ideas and almost completely buried ever since - which is completely understandably.
Picture QualityIt seems only logical to assume that releasing Silver Dream Racer on Blu-ray is designed to appeal to the niche fan market out there of seasonal veteran aficionados who want to rediscover the film in HD, so it's a wonder that it's been so poorly treated that, actually, it marks one of those very rare titles release on the High Definition format which warrants the generally otherwise hyperbolic rhetoric of, doesn't look much better than it did on DVD.
Doesn't look much better than it did on DVD
With the initial credits sequence a little misleading (they often suffer worse because of the optical processing used to overlay the titles themselves), but things don't really get a great deal better and often get a whole lot worse as the film progresses. Feeling generous, and you'd have to admit that there were a few scenes where the middling detail level and unmemorable clarity doesn't take you out of the movie, but they are comparatively few and far between, with Silver Dream Racer boasting an aptly dream-like haze that pervades the piece and robs it of almost all fine detail, almost all sharpness and almost all focus.
The race sequences fare a little better - perhaps because they were shot differently from the feature proper - but it's not enough to pull you back in, with one scene in particularly marking some of the worst 1080p High Definition video content that's been seen since the format came out over a decade ago: the funeral sequence. It's not just out of focus, it's shot in double-vision, like watching a 3D movie without your glasses on. If makes you wonder why, if this was the only shape they could find the film in, and if they were (understandably) not prepared to bother with a remaster, why bother releasing this on BD at all?
Sound QualityAn acceptable, albeit unremarkable, audio offering
The accompanying soundtrack is far from as flawed, providing serviceable audio for the feature. Dialogue gets strong enough presentation across the frontal array, delivered clearly and coherently throughout. Effects are nominal, and never as throaty or resonant as you'd have hoped for - particularly in a feature where the main focus is motor racing - but the bike engines at least give the track something to peddle, and the slo-mo crashes and 'action' does have a little punch. The score - headlined by Essex's own title track - is a tinny, electronic period affair - too light to avoid being utterly dated by the intervening decades, and also too light to bring any weight to the affair in terms of the track's presentation. It's an acceptable, albeit unremarkable, offering.
ExtrasThe limited selection of extra features don't even get their own separate menu section, with the Trailer and 'Happy' Alternative Ending merely gracing the main menu.
Blu-ray VerdictFans will be disappointed to see such a flawed presentation
Silver Dream Racer is probably best remembered for its rare real race footage, for the presence of musician David Essex in a starring role, and for marking the end of an era for Rank Films, who wound up business after this flop. And, unfortunately, even those fans out there who were looking forward to seeing this on Blu-ray will be disappointed to find such a flawed technical presentation, with video that - ironically, in an age of Ultra HD Blu-ray - marks little noteworthy upgrade over DVD.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £10.99
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