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The Fate of the Furious (Blu-ray) (Bonus Disc) (2017)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Cuban Spirit
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-In The Family
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Car Culture
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-All About The Stunts
Additional Footage-Extended Fight Scenes
Audio Commentary-with Director F. Gary Gray
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Heating Up Iceland
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Wrecking Ball
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-How To Stop A Toretto
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Touring The Toy Shop
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Scenes Family
Year Of Production
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
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F. Gary Gray
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
It remains baffling that a terrible movie like 2001’s The Fast and the Furious could beget a few equally terrible sequels before suddenly transforming into one of the most profitable franchises of all time. As a matter of fact, it’s about as baffling as the primary characters graduating from street-racing reprobates who steal DVD players to skilled mercenaries saving the world from nuclear weapons. The Fast & Furious series probably should have been retired after 2015’s Furious 7, especially with star Paul Walker tragically dying halfway through production, but its $1.5 billion box office gross guaranteed further sequels. The start of a proposed new trilogy of Furious pictures, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious provides what fans are after: cars go fast, there are explosions, tone-deaf rap is blasted on the soundtrack, the scale is enormous, and credulity is strained to breaking point. However, unlike the leaden Furious 7, this seventh sequel actually manages to provide exactly the type of high-octane, entertaining action ride that it promises on the tin, despite its many flaws.
While honeymooning in Cuba as he contemplates starting a family with his main squeeze Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is visited by powerful cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron), who blackmails him into turning against his “family.” DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recruits Toretto and his crew to retrieve an EMP in Berlin, but the now-rogue Dom betrays the team after the extraction, stealing the weapon for Cipher and promptly disappearing. The act leaves Dom’s crew - including Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Tej (Ludacris) - bewildered that their faithful leader has ostensibly betrayed them. Enter covert government operative Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and his offsider, Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), who enlist their help to track down Cipher and Dom, and stop a nuclear war. For extra muscle, Mr. Nobody also recruits former enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who wants revenge against Cipher.
What distinguishes Fate from prior instalments in the franchise is Dom going rogue, effectively reducing him to a supporting role (and keeping him as far away from The Rock as possible...), which provides a welcome break from the standard Fast & Furious formula. However, this aspect of the storyline is a bit of a letdown on the whole. See, it’s made explicitly clear from the very beginning that Dom is being manipulated against his will, taking away any sense of intrigue or gravity that the story arc might have otherwise provided. Dom’s “family” are kept in the dark about his motives the whole time, but the reveal to the audience comes far too soon into the game. This is not Captain America: Civil War. Furthermore, it seems that returning screenwriter Chris Morgan (his sixth consecutive Furious sequel) still hasn’t mastered pacing or dialogue. Outside of some uproarious macho bantering (which was likely improvised), dialogue is stilted and uninteresting for the most part, and blatant exposition is lathered on. This is meant to be a fun action blockbuster, but these movies continually insist on unnecessarily exceeding the two-hour mark, becoming bogged down with flaccid dramatic subplots that are difficult to care about.
Pointing out the movie’s lapses in logic, as well as its proud defiance of the laws of physics, is about as futile as writing a review of a critic-proof blockbuster. Suffice it to say, The Fate of the Furious is a huge, expensive cartoon, though new director F. Gary Gray often manages to make it look just real enough to sell the illusion. It’s easy to understand why Gray was recruited for Fate, as he gained experience with car action on 2003’s The Italian Job remake (starring Statham and Theron), and he directed Diesel in the underrated A Man Apart. However, there’s still far too much CGI in a franchise that was previously so reliant on practical effects, and there are a few “nuke the fridge” moments which will likely have audiences roaring with laughter. Of course, the flick gets creative with its primary action sequences - Cipher even creates an army of “zombie” cars by hacking into self-driving vehicles, and the finale features a f***ing submarine because why the hell not? There’s enough mayhem here to please loyal fans of the franchise, though it’s hard to shake the feeling that all of the big set-pieces are car-related because of pure contrivance and obligation - it would be interesting to see the franchise branch out a bit more. (Also, why continue to use beautiful multi-million dollar vehicles like Lamborghinis for dangerous jobs when they’re just going to be destroyed?)
It goes without saying that Deckard’s sudden switch to the “good guy” side strains all sorts of credibility, especially given that Deckard killed one of Dom’s guys, and Dom left Deckard’s brother almost disabled. But at this point in the franchise, and with Hobbs’ allegiances having already changed, you just have to roll with the punches. It does seem that the arrival of a new, worse bad guy means that the gang’s previous nemesis gets an invitation to one of the “family” cookouts. Still, Statham is so much fun here that he’ll likely win you over, and his magnificent solo action sequence during the final act stands as the best set-piece in the movie, even though it doesn’t involve cars in any way. It is pleasing to see Statham being given the chance to show off his insane martial arts skills as he fights his way through dozens of nameless goons.
This series is no stranger to humour, but the studiously unfunny Gibson (who’s still completely useless) is usually given most of the “comedic” material. Luckily, Fate does right by letting the likes of Johnson and Statham pick up the slack. These two are, after all, highly adept at comedy but are rarely given the opportunity to flex these muscles, and it’s an absolute joy to watch their riotous bantering as the pair try to hold back from pummelling one another. Diesel remains something of a dead-weight at this point, and could easily be ditched in favour of Johnson, Statham and Russell. (A spin-off with all three would be very enticing.) As a matter of fact, Diesel is the only actor who doesn’t seem to understand what type of movie he’s in. Even the likes of Eastwood seem to be having a good time, but Diesel delivers his dialogue (including his bizarre pronunciation of the oft-repeated word “family”) as if he’s appearing in an Oscar-calibre drama. At least Tokyo Drift star Lucas Black is kept away.
As perhaps is to be expected, the absence of the late Paul Walker in the group dynamic is really felt, as he functioned as the necessary glue to hold all the other personalities together as a unit. Certainly, it was wise to exclude Walker’s Brian O’Conner given the circumstances, but none of the other performers can replace him, and the group is without a solid anchor. Still, efforts from most of the ensemble are acceptable, with Johnson again showing why he’s become such a huge star in recent years, and Russell making a good impression as per usual. Theron could be mistaken for a James Bond villain due to her hammy performance here, even sporting dreadlocks to top off the image. However, Emmanuel’s Ramsey (carried over after her intro in Furious 7) has no purpose, and only serves to beef up an already crowded ensemble. On a more positive note, Helen Mirren pops in for a brief cameo, espousing a hilariously uncivilised British accent that will remind you why we all love her so much. Mirren’s scenes are some of the most charming in the whole movie.
The Fast & Furious franchise reached its peak with 2011’s surprisingly solid Fast Five, and it’s only been downhill from there, unable to maintain the same level of quality. Still, the fact that this eighth instalment is watchable in any way has to be some type of miracle, and it’s worth watching if you’re seeking a fun time without any brain power required. At this point in the franchise, however, it would be far more interesting to see a Fast & Furious sequel which doesn’t abide by the “bigger is better” adage, and drastically tones down the scale in favour of intensity. After all, movies like Bullitt, The Driver and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive didn’t need $250 million budgets to provide thrilling car chases. (Plus, the original movie only carried a modest $38 million price-tag.) The Fate of the Furious may be enjoyable in fits and starts, but it’s much too long and over-the-top, in need of some discipline. At least two more instalments are imminent, which is preposterous for a franchise as hit-and-miss as this.
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The Fate of the Furious arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Sony with an AVC-encoded, 1080p high definition presentation framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. As to be expected from a high-profile new release, this is a strong image on the whole and it certainly won't disappoint anybody, but it is slightly lacking compared to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray alternative. Fate is placed on a dual-layered BD-50, which is sufficient to accommodate the movie and the slate of special features without giving way to distracting compression artefacts. On that note, there are no encoding issues either - no aliasing, macroblocking, ringing or banding comes through, nor is there any black crush in darker moments.
First things first: the transfer is utterly pristine, as to be expected from a digital production, and clarity is consistently stunning. No matter the environment or lighting conditions, the image is razor-sharp, never looking even slightly soft. Detail also impresses, particularly in close-ups - see the close-up of Dom at the 102-minute mark, for instance. During other moments, there's lots of texture to be seen on costumes, cars and weapons. In addition, the colour palette appears to be a faithful replication of what I recall seeing in the cinema, and this is an agreeably bright image - the opening scenes in Cuba look especially bright and colourful.
However, at times the transfer does look too smooth and even slightly smeary, which often tends to be the case with Universal Blu-rays. The 4K Blu-ray brings out a layer of source noise to give the video more texture, but said noise is less noticeable here to the detriment of the transfer, as it does look as if some digital noise reduction was applied. Contrast is also on the weaker side, which makes the image look flat. But these are the only shortcomings of an otherwise perfectly sufficient 1080p presentation.
Only English subtitles are available, and they posed no issues to my eyes.
Video Ratings Summary
No surprises here at all - The Fate of the Furious is demo material from top to bottom. Universal provide a lossless DTS:X track (with a 7.1 core) for their big 2017 blockbuster, and I was hard-pressed to find any faults with it. There's also a DTS:X Headphones track on the disc as well as an English Descriptive Audio mix for those interested, but I focused my attention on the primary mix, and boy is it a winner. From the very first scene, use of surround channels is evident, with panning and separation being used to maximum effect. In Dom's initial Cuba race, superb panning effects are used to make it seem like the cars are travelling across your living room. When Cipher deploys a concussion grenade that shoots off in all directions, the noticeable and effective use of channel panning really heightens the impact. When Cipher makes cars rain from the sky, the sounds of cars smashing all around come through the rear channels for the best possible sense of immersion.
But it's the subwoofer which really gives this track its moments to shine. When Dom and his racing opponent in Cuba rev their engines, the aggressive roaring make my walls shake. When the wrecking ball takes out several cars in Berlin, the sounds of sheer destruction could leave you deaf. Each punch, kick and shot during the prison breakout sounds amazingly brutal. Every action scene will have you concerned that your neighbours are going to come calling with a noise complaint. The original score engages all channels for best effect, and it's never too intrusive. And miraculously, in amid the chaos, dialogue still comes through perfectly - I never had any problems understanding it, and I didn't have to constantly toggle the volume.
Since I only have a 7.1 system, I am unable to comment on the overhead activity of the track, but on my set-up I have absolutely no complaints. The Fate of the Furious looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras package is a bit underwhelming on the whole. There's about 70 minutes of behind-the-scenes video material plus extended fight scenes and a commentary, but most of it is fluffy and insight is limited.
Disc 1 - Blu-ray:
The Cuban Spirit (HD; 8:04) Michelle Rodriguez drops in to introduce this first extra in a very promotional, EPK manner, which takes a behind the scenes look at the shoot in Cuba. Gray explains that Fate is the very first studio movie to shoot in Havana, Cuba, which he says is a huge achievement. This segment is informative up to a point, but it is undeniably fluffy.
In The Family (HD) A selection of four featurettes about the primary characters in the movie. These can only be played separately - there is no Play All function.
- Betraying the Family: Cipher and Dom (6:35) - Ludacris delivers the cheesy intro for this behind the scenes extra, which as the title implies is all about Cipher and Dom. The actors talk about the characters and their motivations, but it's amusing to watch them take the material so seriously.
- Leaderless: A Family Lost (5:00) - Rather than focusing on the crew and their respective abilities, this whole segment is all about the crew not believing that Dom went rogue (a phrase said every three seconds here). Diesel must love the ego stroke.
- Shaw Family Values (3:56) - Perhaps the funnest segment on the disc, this is all about the Shaw family, as played by Statham, Luke Evans and Helen Mirren. Mirren and Evans are interviewed, but Statham is curiously left out.
- Meet the Nobodys (5:45) - Apparently Russell and Eastwood's characters constitute a "family," too... As usual, all of the interviewees speak in clichés. Of limited interest.
Car Culture (HD) Again, this supplement is divided into three featurettes which can only be watched individually.
- The Hero Cars of 'Fast' (10:24) - This segment (mercifully free of a cheesy EPK intro) runs down many of the cars used by the primary characters in the movie. It goes through the modifications required and the destruction said cars endured.
- Zombie Cars (5:35) - Ludacris return for another fluffy intro ("Take a look at how this insane sequence was made!") preceding this featurette about the creative "zombie cars" set-piece. Again, it's nice to see practical effects and real cars being used to pull off the carnage.
- The Ripsaw (5:22) - A brief behind the scenes piece on the ripsaw military vehicle seen in the Iceland sequence. The crew all wax lyrical about it, and there's plenty of footage of the thing in action.
All About The Stunts (HD) Yep, you guessed it. Another multi-part supplement.
- Malecón Street Race (6:15) - We've already had a featurette on shooting in Cuba, but this is a more focused segment on the street race itself, from prepping to shooting. The crew talk about choosing to up the ante whilst getting back to the street racing roots of the franchise (heh), and there's plenty of behind the scenes footage.
- Iceland Stunt Diaries (6:45) - Another behind the scenes segment about the big Iceland-set action sequence. The practical effects are still great to see, though of course the submarine was digital. Again it's too brief and fluffy to provide a substantial glimpse at making the set-piece, but the interviews and behind-the-scenes footage nevertheless remains interesting enough.
- The Streets of New York (5:27) - The crew explain that NYC is a legendarily tricky place to film car chases, due to the density of the city and the restrictions on speed. The challenges of shooting in Time Square are touched upon, and of course there's plenty of on-set footage.
Extended Fight Scenes (HD; 5:01) Two extended fight scenes are available to view under this submenu, and there is a Play All function! Here you'll find longer versions of the "Prison Fight" (3:01) and the "Plane Fight" (2:00). These feel fuller than the versions seen in the finished movie, making them a nice inclusion.
Audio Commentary with Director F. Gary Gray Gray comes in strong from the very beginning, thanking many of the people who had a hand in making the movie happen before proceeding into a scene-specific string of minor factoids. It's clear that he was a smart pick for the job, as he's a self-professed car enthusiast and clearly has a soft spot for this franchise. He talks about the actors, the cars, and he hints at the rumoured spinoff featuring The Rock and Statham that still really needs to happen. However, Gray has a tendency to speak in clichés, and to simply talk about things occurring on-screen - plus, his personal analysis of various things throughout the movie is way too self-serious. Most amusing is Gray proclaiming during the final scene that he tried to convey the concept of family visually, but every second sentence of dialogue contains the word. In the grand pantheon of audio commentaries, this is one of the weakest I've heard lately. It just never penetrates the surface enough.
Disc 2 - Bonus DVD: The advertised JB Hi-Fi Exclusive bonus disc is a DVD, and therefore all of the following extras are in regular old standard definition. The disc comes with an array of audio options - English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian. Be advised that the DVD is PAL, and is therefore subjected to the slight PAL speed-up and might not play on certain international televisions.
Heating Up Iceland (SD; 6:12) This first featurette on the bonus disc is a fluffy EPK-style extra concerning the shoot in Iceland. Rather than anything substantial, it's just a mishmash of on-set footage interspersed with interviews from participants talking about the challenges of shooting car stunts on the ice. It's nice to see practical driving and stunts, that's for sure.
Wrecking Ball (SD; 5:29) Tagged with another YouTube-style EPK intro with Michelle Rodriguez, this slick behind-the-scenes extra is solely concerned with the brief wrecking ball moment. Achieved practically, this segment looks at the construction of the ball and how it was filmed. Again, nice to see practical effects, though the exterior of the ball was digitally-created.
How To Stop A Toretto (SD; 5:24) Ludacris drops in to deliver another EPK-style intro for this next extra (seriously, it's like an on-air promo piece from the '90s), which looks at the moment in which Toretto's car is surrounded and harpooned by his crew, who use cables to try and pull said car apart. Again, it's welcomely practical and there's some nice on-set footage here, but the whole thing is very fluffy.
Touring The Toy Shop (SD; 7:30) Another fluffy intro by Ludacris leads into a tour of the massive car storage set. Dozens upon dozens of expensive, beautiful cars are seen, and director Gray discusses being very hands-on with the style of each vehicle. The director states that the combined price tag for all the cars is north of $20 million... It's interesting to consider that many superior movies have been produced for much less than the car budget on this particular production.
Behind The Scenes Family (SD; 4:03) Gray pops in to deliver the fluffy intro for this final extra, which briefly introduces the various families behind-the-scenes. Many of the crew had the chance to work with their relatives which was a major thrill for them.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The American release does not come with a bonus disc. There is a Walmart exlusive which does offer the same featurettes available on our bonus disc, but only as a digital download on the service VUDU. With this in mind, I'm giving the win to the local edition, as there's less of a muckaround with these extras and a physical disc trumps all.
The Fate of the Furious won me over in the end...kind of. It's overblown and too long, and Diesel is utter dead weight at this point, but some of the action scenes do entertain, and it's enjoyable watching Statham and The Rock do their thing. These movies are critic-proof, though, so do what you like.
This Blu-ray both looks and sounds very good indeed, and this particular edition has the most amount of extras for those interested. However, though the bonus disc does add a few nice extras for die-hard fans, you wouldn't be missing out on too much if you went for the standard edition. Still, it is the most complete package out there, so if you like the movie and value extras, this is an easy buy.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, September 09, 2017
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|