Rush (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2014 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Rush tells the fact-based story of the rivalry between two formula 1 racers during the 1970’s. The two drivers are James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). It is directed by Ron Howard and offers a nice glimpse at these two character’s lives and ultimately what led to their rival. Hunt is a ladies man and drug user while Lauda is the more straight-laced of the two. We often see Hunt throwing up before a race. He’s clearly the more rebellious of the two racers as well. Lauda is neither as physically striking as Hunt nor as arrogant. One of the strengths of the film is that it doesn’t make one character a hero and one a villain. Both of them have their flaws, but their separate stories are both well-developed and are fair to both characters. In a lesser film it would’ve made Lauda the primary antagonist and likely cast a more popular actor to stand toe to toe with Hemsworth. We begin in 1976 when during the race, Lauda’s car spun out of control and caught fire. He severed terrible burns to his face and body. The film shows portions of the crash before flashing back to six years prior. This is a nice way to let us know the inevitable is coming and we fear it as the film progresses. Of course there are those who may be familiar with the story going into the film. I personally had never heard of the story before seeing the film. I’ve never been a big sports fan particularly racing, but I still enjoyed the film quite a bit. On the day of the crash we see that Lauda urged the other drivers not to race as the conditions were not exactly fit for racing. There are some drivers who agree that the race should be postponed, but others (Hunt in particular) persuades them to continue. Hunt then feels a level of guilt after Lauda crashes as he pushed for the race to continue. The racing sequences are wonderfully shot and have an authentic look and feel to them. What works so well about the film is that Howard keeps things as interesting off the track as he does on it. Not very long after the crash, Lauda returns to the track to continue racing. His injuries sustained in the crash were quite extensive, resulting in skin grafts and even losing a portion of one of his ears. We see portions of his recovery process, including a scene where he has to have his lungs vacuumed.

If there’s one thing in life that I never see myself doing, it’s being a race-car driver, not in any way, shape or form. Oh, I could list several professions that I don’t want to have in addition to that (Don’t worry, I won’t), but I admire their dedication. Niki Lauda is a fine example of what can go horribly wrong by the slightest miscalculation. The film does a good job of showing that side of the character as well. There’s a scene where he tells the mechanics to readjust the engine and other vital parts of his car to make it faster and lighter. I enjoyed seeing this as it not only shows the obsessive side of the character, but it’s just interesting to watch. Both Bruhl and Hemsworth do great work here, both characters are as interesting as the other. Hemsworth shows that he’s not just another pretty face actor like so many before him. He more than carries his own. It also must be noted that Howard does a fine job of recreating the 1970’s here. He gets it down nearly perfect with the clothing, cars and just the overall look of the film. It feels very authentic and natural. Some of the accents are a bit heavy, but that’s where subtitles come in handy. The race sequences are also nicely staged. I’m not sure how much CGI (if any) was used, but it could’ve fooled me. It’s surprising that this story hasn’t been told before as it seems like something that most studios would strongly push for. I am glad Ron Howard chose to direct as he handles it very well. A lesser director would’ve likely played up the rivalry angle too much. I’m not sure how true this movie is to the original story, but it held my interest and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. It’s well acted, nicely paced and has just enough action to please all. Check it out.

Video: How’s it look?

Universal continues to do nice work. The transfer is AVC encoded (2.40:1 ratio) and displays a strong, deep color palette throughout. The print used is clean and free of any noticeable flaws. This shouldn’t comes as a shock since this is a new film. Background detail is strong on several occasions. Flesh tones were nice and even and black levels deep and strong. It should be noted that some of the colors might not seem as strong as they should. This is intentional as there’s a bit of softer colors in some scenes. It might not seem as vibrant as films set in modern times, but that’s to be expected. I feel pleased with this transfer.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track starts strong and stays strong throughout. Obviously the racing scenes are what we expect to make the biggest impact and indeed they do. The bass kicks in strong during them, with the exhaust pipes and tires screeching in the background. Background noise is also strong when the crowd cheers and the announcers comment on what’s going on. During some of the sequences where rain is pouring, we can hear little drops of water hitting the ground. There’s a nice, smooth balance throughout the track and this works in the film’s favor. The quieter dialogue scenes are also strong. Vocals were clean sounding and crisp. This is a nice track to accompany the film and the strong transfer.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Universal gives us their usual combo pack with a DVD copy and digital copy code. The extras are also strong as well. I do wish a more in depth documentary was included, but what’s here is still worth checking out. Whereas a lot of studios have been skimping on extras all together lately, it’s hard to nitpick too much. Something is always better than nothing.

DVD Extras

  • Deleted Scenes (10:49) – These are decent on their own, but would’ve slowed the film down a bit. Most are just extensions on existing scenes. Don’t expect any hidden gems here.
  • Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach (7:24) – This has interviews with Ron Howard and a few others. It’s a fairly interesting and talks about how it feels like a Ron Howard film, but has elements that he hasn’t handles before.

Blu-ray Exclusives:

  • Race for the Checkered Flag: The Making of Rush  This contains several smaller featurettes.1) Peter Morgan on writing rush. 2) Finding James and Niki. 3) The light of speed and filming F1. 4) Around the world in one location. 5) Fashion and Styles of the 70’s. These all offer a look at various aspects of the story and bringing it to the screen. I would’ve preferred a longer documentary on James Hunt and Niki Lauda, but these are still worth checking out.
  • The Real Story of Rush – This contains three featurettes that go into detail of the real life story that inspired the movie. I enjoyed these three the most as they give a nice background on the characters that inspired the film. The three featurettes included in this section are: 1) Meeting James Hunt and Niki Lauda. 2) F1 Take 1: F1 racing and the F1 car. 3) The rock and roll circus.
  • Previews
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

Disc Scores