Come slide with me, let's slide, let's slide away.
When you talk about blatant product placement within movies there are a few obvious titles that come to mind. The most recent being Torque with the full frame imagery of Mountain Dew. But The Last Ride is not just blatant, it's an 80 minute commercial for the new Pontiac GTO (Holden Monaro exported to George Dubbya territory).
Don't get me wrong, ever since the Monaro was re-born a few years ago, I've fallen in love with the car, it's looks, it's styling, it's curves and it's heritage continuing on. It even received accolades from pundits of the blue oval as a car that needed to be made once the prototype was revealed at the Melbourne International Motor Show in 1999. A lot of the credit for the go ahead to build the car for production was because of parent company General Motors wanting to import something like 20,000 units to the US and what better way to promote the new car with a few commercials featuring a narrative by Samuel L. Jackson and now a full length, made-for-TV movie in The Last Ride.
Starring the likes of Dennis Hopper, Will Patton and Fred Ward, this is a simple tale of a grandfather Ronnie (Hopper) being released from jail and wanting to exact revenge on the man (Ward) who put him in there and took Ronnies family as his own. Chris Carmack (Luke Ward of The O.C.) plays teh grandson Matthew who is torn between getting to know the grandfather he never met and rebelling against the father who was never there.
Not Fast, Not Furious!
What brings the family together is the heritage of the GTO, beginning with Ronnies 'Dodge' GTO flashback to the newly released 2004 model, stolen off the showroom floor by Matthew (Carmack) and his girlfriend. A few drifts through the city streets and ending up in a chop shop turns this GTO into something else, literally overnight. Fans of the Fast and the Furious will be furious to know that Rob Coehn was co-writer of this commercial which explains the Furious-esque opening illegal 2 litre drag racing, horribly shot and edited to boot. I've never seen cars move so slow.
Technically, the visual quality of this release is pretty good considering it was made for television. The video is presented in 16x9 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks detailed, sharp and richly colored throughout the duration of the movie. Some of the darker lit scenes suffered a little in black levels and shadow details but all in all a very good encode here.
Mmmmm, GTO! drooooooool!
Audio wise we are treated to a 5.1 soundtrack that is obviously made for TV with no real sense of 'fun' in the mix. I would have loved to have heard a rip-roaring V8 engine really crank it around the sound stage with some rumbalumbling bass but it seems they tried to stay faithful to the original sound of the car. Damn EPA and their noise levels. Other than that, there's some channel separation to tingle your rear speakers and decent dialogue levels from the front.
As fully optioned as the Monaro is locally, he only extra on this DVD is a slightly animated menu that fires up with a flash of the standard GTO picture you can download off the pontiac website. I wonder if the full release DVD will come with a pamphlet from your local Holden dealer? Other than that, nada in the extras.
For fans of the GTO or the Monaro, this might appeal to you and possibly make its way to your collection but to the rest, this is pure marketing promotional material to sell a few more GTOs. I'd recommend watching some recent episodes of Stingers and catch a glimpse of Peter Churchs black Monaro instead. At least you'll have a shorter 1 hour run time with a plot.