Ford v Ferrari

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/11/20;
Fox;
Drama;
Box Office $116.38 million;
$29.99 DVD, $37.99 Blu-ray, $45.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language and peril.
Stars Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Ray McKinnon.

Director James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari provides an immensely entertaining look at an international corporate rivalry that changed the face of auto racing in the 1960s.

Matt Damon stars as automotive designer Carroll Shelby, a former race car driver enlisted by the Ford Motor Company to design a car that can break the dominance of Ferrari in France’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Shelby in turn recruits Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to drive the car, a move that rubs certain Ford bigwigs the wrong way, most notably Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), the executive in charge of the racing division.

Bales, whose turn as the hotheaded mechanic and driver Miles is essentially a co-lead with Damon, dominates every scene he’s in with an energetic performance that commands attention. In fact, some of his best scenes involve Miles alone on the road in the racecar, commenting to himself about how much he enjoys the ride or doesn’t appreciate the actions of the drivers around him.

The film delivers both in the corporate versus maverick politics of the company’s attempts to constrain Shelby’s efforts, as well as being a thrilling racing movie. Mangold’s racing footage puts viewers on the track and in the cars, and viewers can practically feel the crashes through their high-definition home theaters.

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The scenes involving the design and testing of the new racecars are equally compelling, as Shelby’s team takes on the engineering challenge with the focus and intensity of a NASA mission to the moon.

Though Damon and Bale get the headlines with one of the great screen partnerships of recent years, the supporting cast delivers some noteworthy work as well, particularly Caitriona Balfe and Noah Jupe as Miles’ wife and son, and Ray McKinnon as one of Shelby’s top mechanics.

And the film gets to have its cake and eat it too with the “Batman v Bourne” of it all, when Shelby and Miles have a bit of a spat over how much of Ford’s corporate meddling they’re willing to take.

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The intricacy of detail the filmmakers took in re-creating the racing culture of the 1960s is on display in the hour-long making-of documentary “Bringing the Rivalry to Life” that is included with the Blu-ray and digital copies of the film. The eight-part program offers ample interviews about how much the cast enjoyed making the movie, and how the filmmakers went about making replica cars to use for the racing scenes.

Digital versions include the exclusive “The 24-Hour Le Mans: Re-creating the Course,” a 22-minute featurette that delves into how the filmmakers re-created the Le Mans course, using a mix of replica cars and visual effects to enhance the backgrounds. In some cases, the sons of the original drivers were bought in to play their fathers in the climactic race.

The digital edition also offers a 26-minute highlight reel of pre-vis animation of the race scenes.

Vudu has an additional three-minute featurette edited from clips culled from the other bonus materials.

 

A Quiet Place

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street 7/10/18;
Paramount;
Horror;
Box Office $187.28 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $34.99 UHD Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for terror and some bloody images.
Stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe.

Sometimes the simplest concepts, when engineered properly, can produce the most effective films.

A Quiet Place is based on the basic idea of a family that can’t make a sound as they try to survive isolated from the rest of the world. A cataclysmic event has resulted in the planet being roamed by fierce creatures that hunt by sound, so any noise will attract them.

This sets the stage for a visceral viewing experience, with minimal dialogue and even the slightest noise proving to be a source of great tension.

The final form of the story was developed and directed by John Krasinski, who also stars as the father alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. The film begins as they and their three children are rummaging for supplies in a local abandoned town. But their youngest son isn’t quite aware of the danger of playing with a loud, flashy toy out in the open, and he gets snatched by a creature.

Cut to a year later, and the mother is pregnant again as the family still struggles to cope with the child’s death. The natural tendency upon hearing the film’s premise is to wonder how they can possibly avoid making any sounds, given the potential for noise in so many mundane activities, not to mention bodily processes — for example, how can someone give birth without so much as a peep?

Well, the beauty of the film is the way it sidesteps some logistical issues by addressing others, and the potential dangers of childbirth, not to mention the potential for a crying newborn, are at the forefront of the family’s lifestyle. The film is rather clever in showing how the family has adapted everyday tasks to minimize the noise output involved. And yet, sounds remain unavoidable. That the judicious use of sound in the film so effectively contributes to an overwhelming sense of fear is due in no small part to the film’s brilliant sound design and editing.

A Quiet Place is something of a throwback to the silent film era in that regard, though it’s not being presented as some grand experiment in the genre.

The minimal dialogue also sets the stage for some terrific visual performances by the entire cast. The family primarily communicates through sign language, which comes in handy given their circumstances but is also a necessity given the daughter is deaf — which ironically becomes a major challenge in a world where sound invites death, since it helps to know when sounds are being made. The actress who plays the daughter, Millicent Simmonds, is deaf in real life, which adds to the film’s sense of realism.

Krasinski has crafted a beautiful-looking film as well, with lush farmlands that appear inviting in daytime turning to foreboding landscapes hiding all sorts of dangers at night. Not that it matters with these creatures, who will attack whenever.

The Blu-ray includes three short but effective behind-the-scenes featurettes that run a bit more than a half-hour in total. One is a general making-of piece running about 15 minutes, the others focus on sound design and visual effects, respectively.