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I skipped Death Race when it was in the theaters earlier this year, it’s not because I didn’t want to see it, I just ran out of time and these days if you don’t see a film on opening weekend it’s long gone by week two or three. Which is a shame, because after watching it, I’m surprised it didn’t do better. It’s a solid mid-tier action flick, that at times takes itself way to seriously for the material. Jason Statham is actually really good in this and man did he get ripped. At first I thought the muscles on his back were CG. There’s not a lot of fighting as most of the action takes place in the Death Race a grueling 3 Day Race where prisoners are forced to race to the Death. The big dog in cellblock is Warden Hennessey played with fierceness by Joan Allen. When she struts into the Prison Yard, you see the fear and respect the Prisoners have in her. Director Paul W.S. Anderson really gives this film the grit that it deserves, but like I said, it’s almost too serious, I would have liked a little levity.
As with all Anderson HV Releases, this Blu-ray has some really cool features. It’s one of those showcase discs that includes everything the format offers. Picture and Picture commentaries? Check. Audio Commentaries? Check. BD-Live? Check. Boatload of HD Features? Check. For specifics we have:
- Start Your Engines: the Making of Death Race – 20 Minutes (HD)
- Behind the Wheels: Dissecting the Stunts – 8 Minutes (HD)
- Feature Commentary with Paul W.S. Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt
- Universal’s U-Control interactive remote thing that lets you control when and where your Picture and Picture shows up.
- A Full Dossier of all the drivers and their cars that you can pull up at any point in the movie using the U-Control. Pretty slick and cool how it’s implemented.
There’s a really neat multi-angle feature that let’s you cut an entire 13 minute sequence together using over 8 different camera angles. As you watch the race scene you just mouse over the angles you want to use. There are aerial shots, in car close ups, shots of Joan Allen in the control room, the pit crew, it’s pretty comprehensive. Once the scene is done you click the save button and it’ll automatically play back your edit. Not only that but you can cut it multiple different times and it’ll store your edits. Through BD-Live (which wasn’t turned on during the review period) you’ll be able to upload your edits to the community. Also with BD-Live will incorporate live chat and you can do your own live Race Commentary. The picture is of course full widescreen 1080p with a 2:35:1 aspect ratio (I still don’t like letterboxing on my TV) and has HD Audio. On top of all of this, the Blu-ray includes the Unrated and Theatrical release of the movie as well as a Digital Copy.
I’m really happy with this release and it is one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year. Death Race hits the streets Dec 23, on Blu-Ray ($39.99 retail) and an Unrated DVD Version (29.99).
Movie Grade B
Picture – A
Audio – A
Final Overall Grade – A
EM Review by
Originally posted 12.21.08