Speed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasnít a killer transfer, but it looked positive.
Sharpness appeared pretty crisp and detailed throughout the movie. A few shots looked a litle soft and smeared, but those werenít frequent issues. Instead, the majority of the flick appeared concise. Jagged edges and moirť effects created no concerns, and edge haloes were absent. No print flaws marred the presentation.
Speed featured a naturalistic palette, and the disc presented these hues accurately. The colors remained clear throughout the film, and they always seemed nicely full. Black levels also appeared deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Really, most of Speed presented a solid image; only some light softness knocked it down to ďB+Ē.
I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Speed. The film showed a very active and involving soundfield at all times. From the opening elevator sequence to the bus shenanigans to the climactic scenes, Speed used all five channels to great effect.
The music showed solid stereo presence, and effects cropped up from all around the spectrum. Elements seemed appropriately placed, and they integrated well. Sounds moved cleanly from one speaker to another and each channel boasted a lot of unique audio. In regard to the soundfield, this was a top-notch mix.
Audio quality was generally strong but not consistently terrific. Speech appeared crisp and distinct, and I noticed no problems due to edginess or intelligibility. Music was clear and bright, but the score didnít show great depth; not that the music lacked any bass, but I felt those portions needed stronger punch to work as well as they should. Effects came across as clean and accurate, and they provided a stronger low-end presence. My criticisms of the Speed soundtracks remained minor, as the film usually provided very positive audio.
How did this Blu-ray compare to those of the Special Edition DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar, though the DTS-HD track was a bit better; it boasted stronger bass response for effects, though both suffered from somewhat thin music.
Visuals showed the standard improvements. The DVD looked pretty good, but the Blu-ray offered greater definition and clarity. It also lost the handful of source defects from the DVD. All those factors made it a step up in quality.
The Blu-ray includes only a few of the extras from the SE DVD, and we open with a pair of audio commentaries. The first comes from director Jan de Bont, who offers a running, screen-specific track. Iíd heard de Bontís discussion of Twister and thought it seemed decent but unexceptional. His chat about Speed appears somewhat more engaging. I canít call it a terrific commentary, but it works pretty well.
During Twister, visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier accompanied de Bont, so the track took a pretty technical bent. Even on his own, de Bont still stays with a lot of nuts and bolts aspects of Speed, but these donít dominate as heavily as they did during the Twister piece. He offers a good general discussion of the film that seemed a little dry at times, but de Bont nonetheless provides a reasonable amount of useful and interesting information.
Even more satisfying is the second commentary from producer Mark Gordon and writer Graham Yost. Both were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. From start to finish, this track is a blast. Gordon and Yost clearly know each other well, and their dynamic seems fun from minute one. They provide a lot of great information about the movie; from its genesis to casting possibilities to changes made along the way to challenges experienced during the shoot, they contribute scads of useful material.
In addition, Gordon and Yost show a terrifically irreverent tone toward the movie itself. They demonstrate a sense of affection for the flick but they still poke lots of fun at it Ė and many holes in it. They appear more than happy to point out all the plot flaws and scenes that lack logic, and they also provide appropriate criticism of their work. Many amusing moments result, such as their on-going debate about how many people die in the film. Overall, this is an excellent commentary that I really enjoyed.
Under Trailers, we get the promo for Speed. We also find ads for Behind Enemy Lines, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Phone Booth, Planet of the Apes and The Transporter.
Two Blu-ray exclusives appear. A trivia track accompanies the movie and tells us about the filmís origins, various stunts and effects, cast and crew, realism and research, sets and locations, and a few other production elements. The ďTrivia TrackĒ throws out some decent info, but the material appears infrequently and doesnít add a ton.
Speed: Take Down Game allows two options. Play as ďJack TravenĒ and disarm as many bombs as you can, or play as ďHoward PayneĒ and blow up as many as you can. Both games simply require you to move the cursor around the screen and hit ďenterĒ a whole lot; this never becomes fun.
What does the Blu-ray omit from the SE DVD? Lots and lots Ė so much that I wonít even bother to list it all here. Just go back to the DVD review to see what goes missing here.
Why does the Blu-ray drop all those extras? I donít know. The Blu-ray did come out during the formatís early days, so perhaps Fox worried that the supplements would eat up too much space. Their absence disappoints, though.
21 years after its release, Speed remains a terrific thrill ride. It may not be the absolute best of its genre, but itís quite close to the top, and it provides a fun and exciting experience. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and sound along with a few supplements highlighted by two good commentaries. Itís too bad the Blu-ray axes so many of the DVDís bonus materials, but it becomes the best presentation of the movie itself.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SPEED