Saturday, 28 January 2012

Blu-ray Review: Drive

It's not been in cinemas since September, as Nicolas Winding Refn's indie cult classic is finally released on Blu-ray and DVD this Monday, so rather than regurgitating September's review (which you can find here), below is a brief summary, with a focus on the Blu-ray release: the picture quality, sound, extras and the actual transfer itself. 

But before that, here's a condensed version of what I had to say for my cinema review last year:

"A roaring success at Cannes this year, Drive won Best Director as well as a nomination for the Palme d'Or after receiving a standing ovation. Essentially Drive is an indie production, constructed through filmic and cultural influences. It falls nicely into the cult category without the need to follow suit with mainstream conformity, as it shows the quality that can be produced on a mere $13m budget."

"There's no denying Gosling's appeal: a bewitching, charismatic charm he brings to the table that gives audiences no choice but to be 'wooed' by his alluring, yet reserved presence."

"It doesn't try to be cool, it is cool - he pulls it off with ease, which makes Driver a man with desirable attributes that viewers will surely be drawn to."

"Drive is a gripping, yet emotionally charged action film with notable performances from Gosling, Brooks and Mulligan. It's consistently thrilling, hugely likable and accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack that makes this the complete package. Winding Refn avoids succumbing to clich├ęs as it progressively becomes more intense and violent before its boiling-point and fitting conclusion"

Now onto the Blu-ray disc and what it has to offer:

PICTURE QUALITY: It's sharp and beautiful to look at. Consistently impressive, it's perhaps the cityscapes that look more spectacular at night that not only sets the tone for the movie, but makes it a genuine delight to watch. Close ups of Gosling especially look crisp and the detail in general is visible and adds to the overall enjoyment.

SOUND: Whilst it wasn't experienced in surround sound, the dialogue was clear and the soundtrack was audibly great. If you haven't got surround sound, then cranking up the volume will make the songs sound just as emotionally powerful as they did in the cinema.  

EXTRAS: Possibly the weakest element of the release is the lack of bonus content to shout about. We're given a theatrical trailer, a TV spot and a slideshow of some stills, as well as the stages of the development of the quad poster for the film. The best of the extra features is a 41-minute Q&A session after the BFI screening with director Nicolas Winding Refn, hosted by Telegraph critic Robbie Collins. This was an interesting feature with a witty exchange between host and filmmaker, followed by a selection of audience questions, where Winding Refn offers some nice insight into the creative process.

In a previous interview he has stipulated that an Ultimate Edition will be released later this year, therefore the January disc is a bare-bones edition, so as long as you don't pay over the odds you're fine (Sainsbury's had the Blu-ray available for preorder at just £9.99 for example).

OVERALL DISC & TRANSFER: The main menu has some clips of the film in the background that fade in and out with a snippet of the excellent music from the film. The disc in general is pleasant but lacks the meatiness we all wanted in the extras section. The included content suffices, but it's the actual film punters will buy this for, and it certainly doesn't disappoint in that respect: having seen it once before and being overly familiar with the incredible soundtrack, it made a re-watch all the more special. 

The only problem I experienced was at around five different points of the movie, as a new shot began, the picture would stutter for a split second. Whether this is a problem with the disc (which it shouldn't be) or the Blu-ray player is in need of an update (which it could be) remains to be seen.


Drive is released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 30th January