Monday, December 12, 2011

Fast Five Steelbook (Best Buy Exclusive) Review

I've always said it: give people an action film with a good story and characters we can give a darn about, and audiences will flock to it.  Such is the case with Fast Five, a free-wheeling, high-octane, rollercoast ride from start to finish.  The film, well-recieved by audiences for its quick wit, fast-paced action sequences, and its mix of new and returning characters, represents the most mature release of the FF franchise.  It's almost like the kid who comes home from the first year of college: they're different now, with a heightened sense of themselves and the way the world works.  FF needed to take that next step in order to grow beyond its fast-cars, fast-women concept.  Fast Five leaves all the child behind, and the American steelbook release (as well as Target's offering) is one of the best of the year.

Video Quality - 5/5
To say this film presents well is an understatement.  The transfer is excellent, boasting a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that is second to none.  Every detail is on display, from the trees and colorful dilapidated buildings of Costa Rica, to the sweat on newcomer Wayne Johnson's face.  Blacks are deep and whites do not smear into other colors.  I really saw about as perfect a transfer as was possible. 

Audio Quality - 5/5
The audio transfer is the best of the FF series, boasting a HD-DTS lossless 5.1 surround track that grunts, snorts, and roars at you like Dom's 1970 Dodge Charger.  It's loud when it has to be, but dialogue is crisp throughout.  Even on my less-than-perfect Denon, this is a thrill ride for the ears as well as the eyes.  In no way does the audio disappoint.

Special Features - 5/5
As a fan of the series, I really appreciated the diverse amount of special features contained on the discs.  You have the standard triple play available, with two versions of the film (the 130-minute theatrical and the 132-minute extended version) on the Blu-Ray.  The DVD and digital copy are almost afterthoughts here, but I like the diversity of the digital media provided.  All features on the Blu are in HD, which sends a definite message about Univeral's committment relative to FF.  "Scene Explorer" is my favorite, taking the audience on a triple-pane investigation of the film's opening sequence.  The release's breadth of content is extraordinary and appreciated.  The steelbook case is also something to mention: granted, it's in the G1 format, but the silver steel is so pretty that it leaps off the shelf and demands you take notice of it.  More practically, since I still have so many standard DVD's in my collection, its height still creates uniformity.  I'm not like others who abhore the G1 cases with Blu-Ray product.  This steel is fantastic. 

Target also came out with a special edition of this film that contains all of the features listed above, plus the soundtrack; the case is more like a digibook fold-out than anything else, but is well made.  I loved both products so much that I couldn't bring myself to return either one: they stand together like Dom and O'Connor at the film's end, overlooking the wreckage of a bank heist job well done.
Target's Offering (Left) and Best Buy's (Right)
Spine width is signficant but don't take your eyes off of the Steelbook either!
Overall - 5/5
If you're still able to nab either one of these versions, do so immediately.  Fast Five is the best of the series, boasting a near-perfect digital transfer, exceptional audio, and a well-designed package and special features.  From a Blu-Ray release, it's one of my top 10 films of the year; although some fans might take exception to it crtically, no one can argue about the quality product sitting on their shelf.

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