The Great Race appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie barely showed its age via this excellent transfer.
Sharpness almost always came across well. A few wide shots displayed a minor amount of softness, but those issues appeared infrequently – and they usually seemed connected to various effects and camera techniques that made them inevitable. The vast majority of the movie displayed terrific delineation.
I detected no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes were a non-factor; some appeared due to process shots, but again, those were unavoidable and they didn’t stem from transfer-related issues. Grain seemed natural, and print flaws failed to appear, as this remained a smooth, clean image.
Colors looked truly marvelous. Race boasted a vivid and broad palette that favored many bright and lively hues, and the Blu-ray replicated them with vivacity. The tones always looked accurate and distinct, and they showed no signs of bleeding, noise, or other issues.
Black levels also seemed very deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly dense. Even some “day for night” shots came across with nice definition and clarity. I felt delighted with this impressive presentation.
Despite its age, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack to The Great Race appeared strong nonetheless. The soundfield showed an emphasis on the forward speakers, and it generally presented a nice array of elements there. Music offered pleasant stereo separation and presence, and effects cropped up in the correct locations. Those elements also seemed to blend together well, and the pieces moved cleanly across the spectrum.
The surrounds didn’t add too much, but they provided some good reinforcement at times. A few of the louder sequences benefited from rear elements. For example, a plane swooped nicely from front to back, and a few other scenes followed suit. The soundfield seemed ambitious and active for its age.
Audio quality appeared good for a movie of this vintage. Speech seemed a little thin and tinny at times, but I expected that given the film’s period. I felt dialogue consistently sounded accurate and distinct, and I heard no issues related to edginess or intelligibility.
Effects were similarly clear and concise, and they lacked notable signs of distortion. They also boasted good oomph at times; for example, explosions and blasts kicked in some solid bass response.
Music seemed bright and lively, and the score also showed nice depth. I heard no indications of source noise or other concerns. Overall, the audio for The Great Race fared quite well.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2002 DVD? The lossless audio boasted a but more pep and depth, while the visuals seemed cleaner, more vivid and tighter. I thought the DVD was a good release, but the Blu-ray improved on it well.
Audio footnote: on the 2002 DVD, the mix reversed some elements during the opening credits. An off-screen crowd booed the hero and cheered the villain. The Blu-ray corrected this goof. (Apparently subsequent pressings of the DVD fixed it as well, but I only ever heard the original releasel.)
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find Behind the Scenes With Blake Edwards’ The Great Race, a 15-minute, 25-second featurette that first appeared during the film’s theatrical release. Breathlessly narrated by an unnamed commentator, this piece mixes clips from the movie and shots from the set. The latter don’t include the natural audio, as we hear music and the narrator on top of them. The show seems very promotional in nature, but the behind the scenes material can be fun to see.
While not a bad comedy, The Great Race suffers from an excessive running time. It lasts far too long, which wears weak jokes even thinner. The cast makes it sporadically amusing, but overall it lacks much humor. The Blu-ray presents excellent visuals and very good audio but lacks substantial supplements. Although the movie doesn’t do much for me, I feel very pleased with this terrific Blu-ray; fans will adore it.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE GREAT RACE