Drive Angry Technical Review (UK - BD RB)
Two Nic Cage films in quick succession? Just what have I done to deserve this?
Milton (Nicolas Cage) is a hardened criminal who is seeking revenge against the Satanic cult that killed his daughter and plans to sacrifice his infant granddaughter, but there’s just one problem: Milton is currently in Hell. Not the figurative kind you understand, he’s literally in Hell. However, even the Abyss can’t keep a bad-arse like Milton down and he escapes to track down the kidnappers, aided by a seriously fine firecracker of a waitress called Piper (Amber Heard) and her cherry red muscle car. It’s not going to be easy though, as not only do they have to contend with evil cultists but also the enigmatic Accountant (William Fichtner), who has been tasked by the Devil to return Milton to the Pit.
The disc includes both 2D and 3D versions of the film, but I’m not equipped for 3D. I’ve made my feelings on the current 3D craze known elsewhere on the site, but in case you haven’t read any of my other reviews it can be summarised thusly: by and large 3D is a gimmick that’s being used to paper over the cracks in thinly written scripts. At least Drive Angry was filmed in native 3D rather than being post-converted, so if you do have the technology you will at least be getting the best available version of the process.
Anyway, as for the regular 1.78:1 (1080/24p AVC) widescreen transfer, well it’s pretty spiffy. The film was shot digitally so there are no film artefacts to contend with, but neither are there compression issues, edge enhancement or noise reduction problems. It’s a remarkably clean and modern looking image with a stylised colour palette and boosted contrast. Detail is generally exemplary throughout, the only exceptions being the gimmicky ‘3D’ scenes, which can look a little off. Even so everything else looks so good it more than makes up for these brief sequences. Blacks are reassuringly deep and plenty of detail is retained in the shadows, ensuring that the viewer doesn’t miss a thing during the film’s climactic moments. Apart from the previously mentioned, glaringly obvious moments that were intended for 3D (mostly stuff flying directly at the camera) there’s really not a lot to complain about here. As should be evident from the screen captures that accompany this review, it’s a top transfer.
The solitary audio track is a brash DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 affair that is quite impressive, save for one or two things. There’s some effective panning right from the opening moments, what with gunshots and flying hands (you’ll see), with all five channels given plenty to do throughout. Aside from the obvious effects that accompany the numerous action set-pieces there are a lot of subtle ambient touches, from small things like the whistling wind and the sound of chirping insects on a highway at night-time, to the sound of rowdy patrons in a bar. The dialogue is also spread around the soundstage to neat effect at times, such as a flashback sequence in which the cultists’ chants of ‘Jonah’ can be heard in the rears, while bass is very powerful, lending some serious punch to the livelier moments. However, I did have a problem with dialogue in a number of scenes, especially the opening ones. It’s just too low in the mix, allowing the other elements to dominate it. Other than that it’s a pretty effective track that should please action junkies.
The disc includes a modest collection of bonus material, including a commentary track by director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer, an ‘Access Drive Angry’ picture-in-picture track, the featurettes ‘Milton’s Mayhem’ and ‘How to Drive Angry’, plus a selection of deleted scenes with optional commentary. The commentary is pretty informative and the PiP track is a neat little addition, even if the video segments are few and far between, but ‘Milton’s Mayhem’ is just bizarre. It’s basically a fast-forwarded version of the film that shows all of his kills and assigns points to them, which hardly makes for riveting viewing. The second featurette is better but the deleted scenes only about to ninety seconds worth of footage and aren’t particularly memorable.
I really should have learned my lesson by now. My new mantra is ‘if it stars Nicolas Cage, give it a wide berth’. Drive Angry is another misfire for the inexplicably popular star and it doesn’t really do any of the supporting cast many favours either, save for perhaps William Fichtner who is probably the best thing about the movie. It’s undoubtedly an homage to the grindhouse genre but there have been far better attempts in recent memory, with even the direct-to-video Machete proving more entertaining than this uninspired flick. Word has it that the script took eight weeks to write and went through no subsequent revisions, and it shows. It’s loud, vacuous and insipid. I suppose there are people out there who are into just this sort of thing and more power to them. There are probably also a few people who will buy the flick simply because they’re into 3D. Unfortunately I don’t fall into either of those camps and I see no way in which a gimmick like depth perception could improve this film.
Oh, and another thing, this is the only Blu-ray I’ve ever seen that has a pause half way through the movie. It appears to be caused by the switch from one .mt2s file to another and it’s more than a little annoying.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 4th July 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: Audio Commentary, Picture-in-Picture Track, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Patrick Lussier
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse,
Length: 104 minutes
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