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FAST & FURIOUS ($40) is everything I expected it to be… a totally enjoyable, high octane, albeit mindless, action flick filled with street races and car chases. There is also no denying that this fourth installment in Universal’s highly popular film franchise gives fans their money’s worth- as does the excellent Blu-ray Disc release. As movies go, FAST & FURIOUS is certainly set up to take a critical drubbing, as this certainly isn’t Shakespeare… but then again, it doesn’t need to be. FAST & FURIOUS is a movie made for a particular audience, so anyone who walks into a theatre where Vin Diesel’s name is prominently listed on the marquee, certainly isn’t sitting down and expecting A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

The plot of FAST & FURIOUS is fairly standard issue, even if it is a hodgepodge of action/revenge/cop/buddy/road movie clichés. Personally, I had no problems with either the recycled plot or paper thin characterizations, as I came to this film wanting to see fast vehicles, chases, crashes and attractive actresses tarted up as much as the street racing cars depicted in the film. In all aspects, FAST & FURIOUS delivers the goods. Vin Diesel returns to the role of Dominic Toretto, and as the film opens he is hijacking fuel tankers in the Dominican Republic with his longtime girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Dom is forced to return to Los Angeles, when a loved one is murdered, which places him on intersecting paths with FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker), as both men seek to infiltrate a drug cartel run by a faceless kingpin- with each seeking their own brand of justice. The cast of FAST & FURIOUS also includes Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Jack Conley, Shea Whigham, Liza Lapira, Sung Kang, Don Omar, Mirtha Michelle, Greg Cipes, Tego Calderon and Ron Yuan.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made FAST & FURIOUS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. There are some mildly stylized aspects to the visuals, which are beautifully rendered in this fine 1080p presentation. Everything appears wonderfully sharp, highly dimensional, plus the picture is finely textured and detailed. By design, colors can be a little overripe, but the hues are fairly attractive and produce pretty nice flesh tones. Blacks are pitch perfect and the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast has been manipulated as a stylistic choice, so the exteriors can run a little bit hot and the nighttime sequences dial down the shadow detail a bit. The elements from which FAST & FURIOUS has been mastered are virtually perfect. Some grain is present, and adds an organic quality to the presentation.

FAST & FURIOUS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprises here, FAST & FURIOUS comes your typical highly charged, aggressively mixed action movie sound design. All of the outlying channels engage fully, with the sound effects speeding, whizzing and careening around the soundstage, which brings all of the raucous car chases to screeching life. Fidelity is fairly terrific, producing intense sound effects and a full bodied musical component. The bass channel track adds plenty of percussion to the crashes and explosions, not to mention a nice bit of engine rumble. Dialogue is natural sounding and remains totally understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Justin Lin. Next up is Los Bandoleros, a twenty-minute short film "prequel" to the main feature. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Under The Hood-Muscle Cars (seven minutes), Under The Hood-Imports (five minutes), Getting The Gang Back Together (ten minutes), Driving School With Vin Diesel (four minutes), Shooting The Big Rig Heist (ten minutes), Races And Chases (eleven minutes), High Octane Action: The Stunts (eleven minutes) and South Of The Border (three minutes).

Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). In the Take Control section Paul Walker and Justin Lin offer Video Commentary, while the Virtual Car Garage And Tech Specs offers details on the vehicles in the film. A Music Video for the song Blanco by Pitbull, a Gag Reel and Theatrical Trailers for the franchise, close out the standard supplements. FAST & FURIOUS is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

FAST & FURIOUS delivers exactly the kind of motion picture experience one should expect from a title of this ilk. As for the Blu-ray, it delivers the expected high quality high definition experience.



Fast & Furious [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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