Crash (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

“Crash” is an abnormality. It’s an ensemble piece in a movie-world where remakes abound and it’s the only movie nominated for Best Picture that came out in the *gasp* Spring! It is also no secret that this movie strongly parallels Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia”, though the characters there were more family-oriented. Director Paul Haggis, who also wrote last year’s Best Picture winner – “Million Dollar Baby”, has crafted something that’s not too typical but yet something that everyone should see. Now I may go off on a few rants and try to sound a lot smarter than I really am, but the issue of racism abounds in every facet of life and it’s personified in its entirety in “Crash”. The film stars a veritable “who’s who” of Hollywood talent. Terrance Howard (himself a nominee for “Hustle & Flow”), Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Brendan Frasier and Ryan Phillippe round out what has got to be one of the better casts since “Ocean’s Eleven”.

The movie opens as if we’ve missed the first fifteen minutes of it. We meet some of the major characters as they go about their business. Graham (Don Cheadle) is a cop investigating a murder whose story intersects Hanson (Ryan Phillippe) and Ryan (Matt Dillon) all of which are police officers. All are racists, though to varying degrees. We see Officer Ryan as he pulls over a couple that he thinks is up to no good (sexual acts in a car) but he pulls them over because he believes the woman (Thandie Newton) to be white and the man she’s with (Terrance Howard) is black. He humiliates her, only to return home to his sickly father. There are two gang-type members, (Ludacris and Larenz Tate) who talk of racism and the inborn prejudice against them only to then carjack the District Attorney’s (Brendan Frasier) car and scare his wife (Sandra Bullock).

The truth is that the complex web that “Crash” weaves is only the means in which to tell the story. The underlying theme of the movie is racism, obviously, and how different people of different races all have their perceptions of what’s right and what’s wrong. The sad truth of the movie is that it tells the truth. Racism exists is more prevalent than we’d like to acknowledge. Admittedly, I harbor some of these same traits even though I was raised by good parents and come from a nice home. When driving through a bad neighborhood, I’d lock my door. Sorry, but I would. I’d be more aware of my surroundings and possessions if a repairman of a different race was in my house. It’s not that I assume everyone else is a thief, but that’s how most all of us are to a certain degree.

“Crash”, like any good movie, exhibits a reaction out of the viewer and be it positive or negative – it makes you think. This defines a good movie. The characters in the movie aren’t all likeable; they’re driven by rage and circumstance and make judgments based upon what their senses tell them as opposed as to what their mind should tell them. The tapestry of characters is the perfect setting for the movie and even in multi-cultural Los Angeles, we can see that prejudice is alive and well. “Crash” will polarize viewers but it’s in a good way. It’s not an easy movie to watch, but should be seen by anyone and everyone.

Video: How does it look?

The .2.35:1 MPEG-2 HD transfer makes “Crash” look better than when I saw it on DVD. I can’t really say that the movie was the best-looking I’d ever glanced at, but then again it really wasn’t supposed to be. The sometimes confusing visual nature of the film is a statement just as much as the bigots who were characters in the movie. I found this Blu-ray version of “Crash” to be a few notches above the standard DVD, if only for the improved color and overall sharpness. I can remember giving a score of 3.5 to the standard DVD and this one is a bit above that, but not much more. Let’s face it; there are some movies that will always look good on disc and then some that can only look so good and no more. This is one of the latter. For those expecting a miracle, you won’t find one here – you’ll get a better transfer, but not the shiny, flawless image you’re looking for.

Audio: How does it sound?

As with a number of other early Lion’s Gate releases, “Crash” contains both a Dolby Digital EX mix as well as a DTS ES mix. Both of these far supercede the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that was included on the original disc and with these more robust tracks, comes a bit more understanding of the soundtrack. “Crash” is very low key, almost too low key in some certain parts. Dialogue is very clean, of course and there aren’t too many instances in which we get to hear the soundtrack show off, but then again that goes against the nature of the movie. Again, I’d have liked to have the true uncompressed mix but these dual soundtracks certainly suffice. Like the video, there’s only so good this movie will ever sound and as of right now, this is it.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, last year’s winner for Best Picture got the Special Edition treatment on DVD with a director’s cut and two discs of supplements. We do get the director’s cut here (though it’s not anywhere to be seen on the box) but that’s it. No trailers, no featurettes, no nothing. You’ll get improved video and audio when you buy “Crash” on Blu-ray, but nothing more.

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