Death Race Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover, the window to the soul of a movie hiding in a box stuck scientifically to a plastic disc. This is a dramatization, obviously. Although, the cover is important, not just as an eye catcher in a store or online for people to be drawn to it enough to make a purchase, but for someone like me who buys DVD’s based on the movie inside, it’s nice to have cool covers, why? I have no idea. They get stuck in a shelf where you can’t even see the cover…but I digress. This cover is nothing special, hot chick, big action star, and crazy car, that’s what this movie is about so it’s a fair representation. I would like to have seen just the Death Race logo or something a little less flashy, but this will do.
The menu is a heavy duty design, kind of rough, kind of Mad Maxxy with live action from the movie in the background, which by the way, I HATE. I don’t want to see the movie before I see the movie. Ok people?

Features: 7/10

  • U Control (Tech Specs/Picture In Picture)  – Every chapter of the movie has something to watch or listen to, so that’s cool. The picture in picture is still pretty small but they include a lot of behind the scenes material. Pretty good if you are in the mood for watching again, and pressing a stupid button every time you want to watch something..NOT A FAN of U-Control. Just put the stuff in a menu and leave it at that please..:)
  • Start Your Engines Making A Death race – This is a standard but informative bit about how the movie was made, why  it was made, how the director and writers wanted to make it different from but in homage to the original Death Race 2000.
  • Behind The Wheel Dissecting The Stunts – How they blew up big trucks, crashed cars, and put actors on the hot seats.
  • Feature Commentary With Director & Producer – This is a pretty good commentary. It doesn’t always follow the movie with stories and discussions about general movie making stuff.
  • D Box Motion Control Enabled – Haven’t got that fancy thing in my house.
  • Digital Copy – Copy of the movie for laptop, ipod, etc.
  • BD Live (My Movie Commentary/My Chat) – You can make your own commentary and enter a contest. You can chat with a friend who is watching another Universal Blu-Ray on BD live.
  • Create Your Own Race – Hmmm you can change to different camera angles through the race scenes and patch them together as your own version. I don’t get the purpose of this, but hey, that’s not surprising with my jaded attitude.

The Movie: 7/10
I feel the need to justify the number value I have placed on the movie. I say it’s a 7 for 3 reasons and 2 non-reasons. Ok, first the non-reasons. I gave it an above average score, yes, but not because it’s an above average movie watching experience. It’s not, it’s just average with some heart pumping action that does elevate a bit but not much beyond a 7. The other non-reason is that it’s drew attention to the original Death Race 2000 which I liked a whole lot more, so it gets some credit for that:)

This leads me to the 3 reasons for giving it a 7. This is unusual for me. I don’t explain my scores, or lay out reasons specifically why I come up with the numeric judgment. I felt like this movie tore me in different directions so I wanted to lay it out and find out for myself why I think what I think.

Reason one, I like the hard core stunts and crashes and action sequences. This isn’t just a race movie with a short little race and lots of filler. This has three fairly long races that do take you right up close to the action. I like immersive action that has the sound to go with it. Lots of machine guns firing, explosions, even a big rig gets it’s comeuppance. Sometimes a girl just like to get down and gritty with the bashing of armor plated vehicles.

The next reason I like the movie enough to not put it in the shitter score wise is the cast. I like everyone except I do think cock sucking Swingen was a bit boring. The woman who plays Case, the navigator deserves some mention. She was really good, not over acting, not campy or overly tough chick. She was just right which made things that much easier to absorb. If you through a too-touch chick in those roles it’s awful.

The third reason I like this movie is pretty superficial, but hey, it’s all I’ve got. I really do like the prison aspect of the story. Yes, the story of a greedy warden who works for a big company who wants to make more money off of the race to the death thing, it’s very mundane and uninspired. Right, but prison is just an intriguing place to through some drama and everything from the violence to the gritty setting is justified in some way. The sets are amazing and the overall look of the movie made it that much more palatable. I like dulled down, darker kinds of movies when it’s done well and matches the tone of the story.

So, that’s about it. I liked the movie enough to give it an above average score. I disliked the movie enough to not give it a great score…very wishy washy don’t you think? I don’t want Jason Statham to come kick my ass so I’m being diplomatic.

Audio & Video: 9/10
Death Race comes to Blu-Ray courtesy of Universal using a fine 2:35:1 wide screen transfer that is intentionally muted in color and with a certain amount of film grain. I see a lot of reviews on this movie saying the Blu-Ray quality isn’t up to snuff but let me tell you, it is. Paul W.S. Anderson has added intentional digital noise to the movie and muted the colors down to a almost monochrome look. Despite this the image is smooth detailed and great to look at, even during the most intense action scenes the image looks pristine.

Audio is presented using the DTS HD master audio codec and like Doomsday (another awesome universal action flick) sounds incredible You feel every bump in the road due to some amazing bass action and dialog is always crisp and clear even with gunfire and explosions going off. There are also a lot of noticeable surround effects. Anytime the cars are firing bullets you get a lot of bullet cases pinging behind you, very impressive. Overall Death Race on Blu-Ray disc is a kick-arse ride if you are into this type of movie I say go for it.

Value: 4/10
I would rent this on a weekend for sure. I don’t need it on my shelf permanently unless the price drops to 10 bucks. You do get a big action flick, several (if not amazing) extras, and well, that’s about it. So, no, it’s not worth the cash for me. It’s definitely worth the time and effort to watch though, it’s that kind of fun blow up, crashing movie that gets the blood flowing.

Overall Score 7/10