The disc presents a widescreen 1.78:1 1080p 2D and 3D transfer and is locked to Region B. The film was shot natively in 3D, but as it’s a throwback to early eighties type action/thrillers, the filming style was very ‘in your face’ and thus, unlike the best use of 3D which involves depth into the frame, this concentrated on shoving objects out of the frame – in short it quickly becomes tiresome. Depth shots, when they occur look extremely good, the best would be when Milton walks away from Piper and her Charger after first arriving at her fiancé’s – with the car making up the foreground, Milton walking into the frame and the far distance sees an extra walking from left to right showing up decent scale. But that’s pretty much it, the rest of the picture is all in your face with baseball bats, bullets, flames, exploding debris and anything else that the film-makers deem necessary to push out of the frame. None are really accomplished with any real panache, and all are extremely obvious. I guess, because the whole film is in this style there is a kind of uniformity to the proceedings, but to me it was far too much and unnecessary. Objects and people do have a terrific sense of solidity in space; there is tangible distance between characters as well as objects having front – middle – back to their solidity, the cars coming off particularly well. But this is nearly incidental as it’s all about pushing stuff into your face.
The rest of the picture fairs pretty well, detail is well realised with skin, clothing weaves, metallic sheen to the cars and guns as well as water eyes and fine hair coming across clearly and defined. The image never really softens and there is plenty to see – especially the CG enhanced effects, be they blood shots, or the naff looking tanker roll.
Colour is always bold and striking; the primaries coming across with real depth, with no hint of wash or bleed. Reds and blues are particularly well realised, look at the opening scene in Hell for a superb gradation of reds and oranges and then the following scene for its wonderfully lush looking blue skies.
Brightness is well set to give some decent blacks, though contrast does run a little hot which can bleach out some of the detail in the many fires in the final climatic shoot out.
Digitally there were no compression problems, no edge enhancement and, obviously, no grain or print defects. The passive technology shows no crosstalk or any flicker, but what I did experience is a rather odd effect which was a combination of the shooting style and the passive style. Basically, in some of the fast cutting and fast moving scenes the occasional frame would ‘stick out’ or flash which produces a very odd look for a moment and it did bring me out of the film every time it happened, which was mainly during the opening car shootout. Not a defect per se just something I experienced.
On the whole this was a rather unsatisfactory 3D experience, in being all ‘in your face’ you quickly become tired of it all as there is nothing to draw you into the picture or give an enveloping experience.
The disc only has the one sound track, an English dts-HD Mater Audio 5.1 offering. Blunt force trauma, that’s the only way to describe this track – it assaults every speaker with little finesse in an attempt to come across as big and bold, but with none of the ambience to create a realistic sound-scape you end up being pummelled into the furniture. It’s loud and unforgiving, effects come thick and fast, but instead of being shaped and following the onscreen action is rather like a huge splat of sound the envelopes the room. Cars, explosions, gun shots, the score, everything is jacked up to eleven. Luckily the dialogue is always clearly and precisely realised and is never drowned out by the mayhem otherwise happening. Curiously, whilst re-watching some scenes with the sound at much lower than reference it appears far more contained, with ambient effects such as general coffee room chatter while Milton is in the diner at the beginning of the movie, though once it gets back into the action it is just one vast wall of sound. Bass is huge and LF effects come thick and fast, but again I’ve heard lower and with much better usage. Much like the visuals are meant to be ‘in your face’ so too is the sound and on that level is succeeds.
- Audio Commentary – With the writer director Patrick Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer as they discuss various elements of the film-making process; from their initial idea and script writing (it’s all done in one draft, if you don’t already know) through the pre-production, lack of studio interference, casting, back patting of the cast, 3D filming and other general chit chat about the process. Both come across as proud of their creation and there are barely any lapses in the chat, which can be difficult at times to listen to as Farmer has bad throat meaning his gravelly voice grates and grates and grates.
- Access Drive Angry – is a Picture in Picture feature that has cast and crew, as well as behind the scenes filming, production drawings and pre-effects shots play in a small window to the right of the picture. Everything is covered in pretty concise detail with the usual back patting and praising. Some overlap with the commentary here, but that is to be expected.
- Milton’s Mayhem – is a very strange feature, the film plays but fast forwards to every time Milton hurts someone, shoots, punches, kicks etc. and keeps a score in the top left of the screen .... ?
- How to Drive Angry – is a short feature that has interviews with cast and crew as they discuss various elements about the production of the film – everything here is included in the PiP.
- Deleted Scenes – just two that can be played with or without commentary, a few seconds each, hardly worth removing and definitely not worth seeing here.
- DVD – the film but in DVD form
So that’s it, a pretty good selection of material if you’re willing to watch the film three times to get everything.
Drive Angry is an extremely simply plot about a man that has escaped from Hell to try and save his granddaughter from Satanists – but the trouble is there is little else to the film; once you realise what is going on, the invulnerability of the characters and the lack of any originality in the script, style or execution there is very little to keep you hooked into the plight of the characters. This is not helped by a rather lacklustre performance of everyone involved, though Amber Heard is suitably sassy as the ‘sidekick’ and Tom Atkins is simply wonderful in his brief cameo. As for the rest of the film, even in its 3D guise, it’s instantly forgettable by bringing nothing new to the table or anything worthy to go back for; it can’t even be labelled ‘big dumb fun’ because none of those words apply. It’s not a terrible film, but it is rubbish.
As a 3D Blu-ray set all the bases are covered with both 2D and 3D variants as well as a DVD; the picture itself is very much in your face and the sounds is loud enough to match, though neither are reference quality, and the extras package is reasonable if you’re willing to sit through the film numerous times.
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