Universal/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 102 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Ooh, I can hear it now - a testosterone-fuelled cry of “why’s a chick reviewing this?” Well, it just so happens that I come from a long line of hoons. The first thing my Mum did on getting her last car was put a spoiler on it, my brother’s rather stunning Astina is barely recognisable as what it once was thanks to his mods both on the outside and the inside (hey, who needs an air conditioner when you can have a turbo in there instead?) and my funky little girl (which said brother so cruelly describes as looking like a gerbil) has seen the odd change or two since her birth less than a year ago, including 15” wheels and a set of lowering springs, before which going around a corner was much like being a garment inside a clothes dryer. Hey, I think that’s qualification enough!
Go speed racer!
Anyway, onto the task at hand, this ‘Superbit’ re-release of The Fast and the Furious, a nitrous-charged blast of a flick which if competing with a Nerf ball in a battle of wits would languish in a pool of its own drool while watching the foam rubber toy inducted into MENSA. I’ve experienced dumb films in my time – I’ve absolutely adored some dumb films in my time – but this has got to be the most hackneyed, clichéd, predictable, contrived, silly and utterly corny thing ever to have been committed to celluloid. It’s also enormously exciting fun.
You want plot? Well, so did the film, but instead it ended up being a tale of rival motorhead street racing gangs – erm, sorry, “teams”, trucks full of electrical stuff being hijacked by a triad of scarcely recognisable black Honda Civics, an undercover cop infiltrating one of these “teams” under the guise of a greenhorn in a green car
It's not easy being green...
in order to get to the bottom of said hijackings and… well... there’s a kind of love story thing sticky-taped on, with the requisite jealousy stuff and questioning of allegiances that always accompanies such things. Rather than being jam-packed with massive, grunting Detroit-built V8 behemoths, The Fast and the Furious ensconces itself in the world of the fast four rice racers, rendered barely discernable as Hondas, Toyotas, Mazdas etc in a sea of ostentatious underbelly neons, shaved rear-ends, wheels so big you can scarcely see any rubber, ridiculously huge rear spoilers which make these machines look not unlike brightly coloured shopping trolleys, luminous paint jobs and hideously garish decals which would make your average Hot Wheels car park itself in the corner in a fit of massive self-disillusionment. Still, at least none of the wing mirrors appear to be painted yellow…
"Goddamn street racers!"
The lack of depth present is hardly surprising when you consider this whole thing was based on a mere magazine article. But in this day of films as amusement park rides it delivers all it can and more, with some of the most thrilling car chase scenes you’re ever likely to bear witness to. Let’s face it, plot shmot - the high octane, NOS-injected mayhem is this film’s selling point, and there’s certainly no question about it, in this area The Fast and the Furious really delivers.
So with all this carry on about how utterly gobsmacking ‘Superbit’ is, does this stand up against the standard release edition of The Fast and the Furious? Well, in a nutshell, yes.
Again presented in a ratio of 2.35:1, and of course anamorphically enhanced, unlike the original with its slight visual niggles, the picture delivered here is near-perfect. Imagine all those good things that are required from a transfer and there’s every likelihood they’re here. Spot-on blacks, decidedly vibrant colours which burst from the screen without heading into over-saturation, superb shadow detail and a lack of greeblies – they’re all here except, and only if you wish to be phenomenally pedantic, the last one, with about three miniscule white specks passing by fleetingly and one obvious but brief instance of aliasing. Oh, and this time the layer change is completely undetectable, too.
The original release of The Fast and the Furious had somewhat jaw-dropping sound in both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 flavours already, so does this edition warrant any extra attention? Well, probably not, but it still sounds quite amazing.
The nature of this film lends itself to an exhausting aural workout, and this is what we’re delivered. Whether you opt for the DTS mix or the scarcely inferior Dolby Digital 5.1,
Ok, so there's one massive, grunting Detroit-built V8 behemoth - and also the black car.
as hackneyed as it may be to use them (although hackneyed is kind of apt all things considered), the words “audio thrill ride” can safely be dropped here, as this thing never lets up from the opening bounce. Surround effects fly hither and dither throughout the entire film, while the poor old subwoofwoof gets a workout which would leave Arnie huffing and puffing like the Energizer Bunny’s competitors. All is crystal clear and perfectly synched, and this is most definitely one of those discs you can safely pull out to have those 5.1 naysayers making hasty apologies.
What little original score there is comes courtesy of known dance remix dude BT, running the gamut from doof to standard schmaltzy stringy soundtrack stuff. Naturally, however, it has to fight its way through the many exhaust thrums and outright motor roars, along with the huge array of rap, middle class complaint rock and brain jarring techno tracks that has been squeezed into proceedings.
Well duh, the whole idea behind ‘Superbit’ is to short-change the customer in the extras department for the whole disc is apparently taken up with the vision and audio… If you’re desperate for justification though there is that super-daggy DTS trailer, as well as the much overused Dolby Digital City trailer – depending, of course, on which mix you plump for.
OK, bottom line, is this worth investing in if you already own the original release, or is it like so many of those little four cylinder jobbies you see around town, all show and no go? Well, unless it’s your favourite film of all time then steer clear, however as far as picture and audio quality go it does actually live up to the hype. So if you’re no extras junkie and are after a phenomenally dumb, high-speed, sit back and go “whoa!” journey then this baby offers more than just a little ride.
Or to put it in more appropriate parlance, if you live your life a quarter mile at a time, where nothing else matters for that 102 minutes or less, you’ll be free…
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "