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Days of Thunder(1990)
From the engine roar and fever pitch of professional stock car racing, Days of Thunder explodes with the most spectacular racing action ever captured on film. Tom Cruise plays race car driver Cole Trickle, whose talent and ambition are surpassed only by his burning need to win. Discovered by businessman Tim Daland, Cole is teamed with legendary crew chief and car- builder Harry Hogge to race for the Winston cup at the Daytona 500. A fiery crash nearly ends Cole's career and he must turn to a beautiful doctor to regain his nerve and the true courage needed to race, to win and to live.
For more about Days of Thunder and the Days of Thunder Blu-ray release, see the Days of Thunder Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 31, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Randy Quaid, Michael Rooker, Cary Elwes
Director: Tony Scott
» See full cast & crew
Days of Thunder Blu-ray Review
Does 'Days of Thunder' cross the finish line or crash into the wall?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 31, 2009
You build me a car and I'll win Daytona next year.
There are guy movies, and then there are guy movies, and the 1980s saw no shortage of classic machismo films; Commando, Predator, Cobra, and Conan the Barbarian kicked up the adrenaline into overdrive and redefined what real no-holds-barred (there was even a Hulk Hogan movie by that name), relentless, mindless action was all about. In 1986, Top Gun took the guy movie in a new direction; gone were the big muscles and heavy machine guns, gone was the blood and guts, and gone was the witty dialogue and larger-than-life characters. The movie instead relied on speed, amazing photography, a slightly more structured story, a sprinkling of romance, and a touch of drama to tie the action together. This approach worked, too, though perhaps not as efficiently, but certainly commercially, the film the highest grossing of 1986 and recognized by many as a classic of its era. The success allowed the Top Gun team -- star Tom Cruise, Director Tony Scott, and Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer -- to put together a film that shares a similar structure and themes with Top Gun, 1990's Days of Thunder. The film proved that lightning doesn't necessarily strike twice, but also showed that a bump in the road isn't enough to bring a powerful quartet of Hollywood muscle to its knees. The film proved less popular with audiences, grossing less than half of Top Gun's take several years prior. Still, Cruise, Scott, the late Simpson, and Bruckheimer all enjoyed enormous success after the fact, with Days of Thunder likely not atop their résumés in bold type, but certainly good enough to make for a nice addition to any such document.
Car dealer Tim Daland (Randy Quaid, Independence Day) risks everything on a young hotshot race car driver named Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible), fresh off the open wheel circuit and eager to get into stock car racing. Daland propositions former NASCAR crew chief Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall, Gone in 60 Seconds) to watch Cole race and, ultimately, build him a winning stock car. Cole impresses everyone at his trial, including Winston Cup star and two-time champion Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker, The 6th Day). Cole and Hogge team up on the new City Chevrolet-sponsored car but fail to win their first several races, thanks in part to Rowdy's aggressive racing style that frustrates Cole and the rookie driver's inability to follow Hogge's instructions. Finally, with Cole accepting his role as a member of a team and not simply an individual in a stock car, he begins to win races and takes the NASCAR world by storm. However, a destructive on-track crash leaves both Cole and Rowdy in the hospital, their futures as drivers in question. While they recover, Cole falls for his doctor, Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman, The Invasion), and the burgeoning star must deal with shifting loyalties as a promising new young driver, Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes, The Princess Bride), drives Cole's car and catches team owner Daland's eye.
Days of Thunder often engenders in viewers a sense of deja vu, and rightfully so. In some ways, the film's structure is a clone of Top Gun's. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, may as well have been named "Maverick," for both characters are virtual carbon copies of one another; they're highly skilled at what they do, rough around the edges, cool at times but too hot-headed when it matters most, and counted on to win the day in the end. The characters are aggressive and dangerous, enjoy riding motorcycles, live on the edge, push their vehicles to their limits, and fall for intelligent women. Both Maverick and Cole struggle to rediscover their edge after a disaster; in Top Gun, it was the death of Maverick's wingman, Cougar; in Days of Thunder, it was a major accident that leaves Cole unsure of his ability to race effectively, to take the risks needed to win. Still, Days of Thunder never approaches the same level as Top Gun despite a cast that's nearly as good. Also, the script suffers from predictability and banality. There is never any doubt that Cole and Rowdy will eventually resolve their differences, and Cole's initial struggles, later successes, re-discovery of ability, and ultimate triumph are never in doubt. The romance feels tossed into the script almost as an afterthought; Nicole Kidman is not nearly as engaging as Kelly McGillis was in Top Gun. Kidman's character sees virtually no development, the relationship adds nothing to the film, and cutting it completely would have saved the film a good 15 or 20 minutes, tightened up the pace, and perhaps made the movie a bit more palatable than it stands now.
Otherwise, Days of Thunder makes for passable entertainment. Outside of a few cheesy moments, like a wheelchair race between Cole and Rowdy, or the pair's subsequent rental car race, the film plays out enjoyably enough in the midst of its predictable plot and hit-or-miss pacing. The racing scenes are mostly exciting, and the photography is generally first-rate during the action. The film features a few cameos that NASCAR fans will enjoy; driver Rusty Wallace and ESPN analyst Dr. Jerry Punch being among the most recognizable. Headlining the film, however, is a cast jam-packed with some of the better actors of the time, and still today reading as one of the finer ensemble casts of the 1990s. The performances are good all around, though Cruise never really strikes a chord. Perhaps it is the similarities between his characters here and in Top Gun, but between a script devoid of much meaning and the actor often finding himself overshadowed by the work of the always-dependable Robert Duvall, his opportunity to shine seems limited at best. Days of Thunder also enjoys fine performances from Michael Rooker, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, and former GOP Presidential candidate and excellent character actor Fred Dalton Thompson.
Days of Thunder Blu-ray, Video Quality
Days of Thunder races onto the high definition Blu-ray format with a decent, but not at all exciting, 1080p transfer presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. There are plenty of pops and nicks and other anomalies on the print throughout the film, populating most every scene, and they are hard not to notice. Also visible throughout is a layer of natural film grain. The film features a somewhat rough look, thanks not only to the grain and print imperfections, but also to blurry backgrounds and many scenes that feature dim colors and dusty, haze-covered frames. Still, the transfer enjoys a nice film like appearance; the grain and all of the print anomalies add a bit of a vintage look, if a film from 1990 can look vintage less than 20 years later. Detail is only moderately impressive; the patches and lines in the race uniforms don't stand out; viewers won't be able to count the threads holding the sponsor patches onto the sleeves of the jersey, but the image nevertheless retains a decent high definition appearance that boasts of improved clarity over standard definition material. Colors stand out nicely, particularly the neon-green of Trickle's City Chevrolet team uniform, seen before they receive a new sponsorship later in the film. Flesh tones and blacks are acceptable throughout. One plus to the 1080p transfer is that Days of Thunder is a film that will play better on a larger display; while it might not look pretty blown up for the largest of projector screens, the movie should play better, more thrilling, and larger-than-life than it does on smaller television sets. All of this taken into account, this is a transfer that might not please a lot of Blu-ray fans, but Days of Thunder isn't the sort of film that was tailor-made for the high definition treatment in the first place.
Days of Thunder Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Days of Thunder speeds into home theaters with a roaring, sometimes nearly deafening, Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack; the film's original soundtrack that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound. There is never any question that the soundtrack packs plenty of volume and aggression during the race sequences, but at times there seems to be a slight lack of clarity about the experience. Outside of the races, the track offers very standard stuff, with little surround activity, relying primarily on solid dialogue reproduction and fine musical accompaniment to move the story along. Off the track, the mix is front heavy and missing in atmospherics. It's the racing scenes that make the movie, and while not as clear and clean as expected, the experience is still often exhilarating. Between the music, the ambient crowd noise, the radio chatter between driver and crew, and of course the revving of the engines, the squealing of the tires, the bumps and crashes between the cars, and the cars colliding with the walls, there is rarely a dull moment to be heard on race day. Overall, it sounds great, but still seems to lack that last bit of oomph to carry it over the top.
Days of Thunder Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Days of Thunder limps across the finish line with practically no supplements; only the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:25) is included.
Days of Thunder Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Days of Thunder fails to recapture the magic of Top Gun. That's not necessarily a hindrance to this or any film, but seeing as they share so many parallels, the comparison is inevitable, and in every area, Days of Thunder never stands toe-to-toe with that aviation classic. What it is, however, is a decent enough movie in its own right, easily watchable, though perhaps a bit too long even considering its sub two hour runtime. A romance that adds nothing to the films bogs it down, but the meat and potatoes -- the car racing sequences -- are good enough to warrant a watch. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Days of Thunder will likely disappoint most fans one way or another. Even though the film wasn't shot to look glossy and clean to begin with, the transfer is hit-or-miss at best. The audio fares slightly better, but still plays as slightly lacking. Finally, the disc provides virtually no supplements. All told, this will be a hard sale for potential owners. First-time buyers of the film who want to own it looking and sounding as good as is currently available should not hesitate, but others should rent first and wait for a drop in price.
Days of Thunder: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Days of Thunder (2 bundles)
Days of Thunder Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Days of Thunder & Top Gun Blu-ray/Video Game Hybrids - June 4, 2011
In an interesting bit of cross media synergy, 505 Games is bringing Blu-ray and video game hybrids of Days of Thunder and Top Gun to Sony's Playstation 3. The game discs will feature a Blu-ray copy of its respective film; these hybrid units street on June 7th, ...
• Today on Blu-ray - December 30th - December 30, 2008
The fifth quarter has officially started, and while for the most part studios are enjoying some well-deserved time off, Paramount has come out swinging with five hits from their extensive catalog. Today they are releasing 'Days of Thunder', 'Event Horizon', 'Ghost', ...
• Paramount Catalog Titles Get Specs - October 16, 2008
Paramount Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the 11 upcoming catalog titles due for Blu-ray release from December through January. All titles will receive 1080p video encodes accompanied by a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. ...
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