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Speed Racer (Blu-ray Review)

19 Oct, 2008 By: John Gaudiosi

Box Office $43.9 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for sequences of action, some violence and language.
Stars Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox.

Anyone who has a Blu-ray Disc player will want to purchase Speed Racer, despite the fact the story gets a flat tire whenever it veers away from the on-track action. It’s the visuals that impress with this movie.

The Wachowski Brothers have crafted a candy-colored thrill ride that pops out of your HDTV screen. Since this film has been released on a BD-25 disc, that perfect 1080p transfer from the digital master comes at a price. There was no room for Warner Bros. to provide lossless audio or TrueHD surround sound. This disc gets the identical Dolby 5.1 surround sound the DVD version has. Audiophiles and many home theater purists will likely be upset at this. That said, the movie sounds great. It just doesn’t have the same flawless impact that HD sound would have provided.

Although this is a three-disc set, the other two discs are normal DVDs. One offers a standard-definition digital download of the movie. The other has the DVD game Speed Racer: Crucible Challenge, which might entertain kids for a short while. In total, there’s only about an hour’s worth of bonus content, although online reports have said extensive bonus materials exist. This points to a future release of the film on BD with HD sound and better extras.

The only exclusive bonus content on BD, besides the aforementioned game, is the featurette “Speed Racer: Car Fu Cinema,” an interesting exploration of the film’s extensive use of CGI.

The two featurettes from the DVD release also are included, although neither are in HD. “Spritle in the Big Leagues,” which is clearly aimed at kids, features actor Paulie Litt guiding a tour of the set. More entertaining is Speed Racer: Supercharged! — a faux documentary on the World Racing League.

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