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This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between race drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions. While Hunt was a charming and handsome ladies' man, Lauda was a loner with a single goal: victory.
For more about Rush and the Rush Blu-ray release, see Rush Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 16, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer, Olivia Wilde, Daniel Brühl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Patrick Baladi
Director: Ron Howard
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Rush Blu-ray Review
"When sex was safe and driving was dangerous..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 16, 2014
While a fine filmmaker by most standards, director Ron Howard has a reputation for playing it a touch too safe, leaning on method where impulse and innovation would be of greater benefit, indulging in sentimentality and heartstrings, and scraping reality too thin to accommodate convention. Rush, though, is a welcome departure. It certainly isn't the first time Howard has brought a true story to the screen, nor is it far removed from the character-beholden biopic template he's used before. But there's an intensity, spontaneity and viscerality on display here -- on the track and off -- that's decidedly un-Howard. The dynamic, multi-camera racing scenes are unlike any that have ever been filmed, and very little of the resulting high-speed, gut-check drama is attributable to CG wizardry. The performances are uniformly excellent; the product of a slick script, shrewd casting and raw talent. The production design oozes authenticity, from costuming to locations and sets, hair and makeup, on down. Above all, the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda's 1976 Formula One season is a fascinating one, regardless of one's interest or disinterest in the sport; it's all so attuned to cinematic adaptation that it's almost difficult to accept how much of it actually happened. Rush is easily one of Howard's finest films as well as one of 2013's best.
"Twenty-five drivers start every season in Formula One, and each year, two of us die. What kind of person does a job like this? Not normal men, for sure. Rebels, lunatics, dreamers... people who are desperate to make a mark and are prepared to die trying. My name is Niki Lauda. In racing, people know me for two things. The first is my rivalry with him. I don't know why it became such a big thing. We were just drivers... busting each other's balls. To me this is perfectly normal but other people saw it differently. That whatever it was between us went deeper. The other thing I'm remembered for is what happened in August 1976, when I was chasing him like an asshole."
Rush charts the rivalry between British F1 racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, Marvel's The Avengers) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl, Inglourious Basterds) and the tragic accident that nearly killed the latter. Hunt, a rock star in racing, is beloved by the masses but a notorious thrill-seeker, substance abuser and playboy, despite being married to supermodel Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde, Tron Legacy). Lauda, blessed with a brilliant mind, is a more professional, introspective competitor, investing countless hours into improving his car and technique to truly be the best of the best, often at the expense of his relationship with Marlene Knaus (Alexandra Maria Lara, Downfall). Formula One racing in the 1970s is a dangerous sport where a single mistake can end in death. The cars are continuing to grow faster with each passing year while the tracks remain unchanged. Turns become deadlier, curves more treacherous and crashes more terrifying. Fuel tanks are being installed directly below drivers. Shedding weight from the car is a must. Safety becomes less and less of a priority. And the dead and injured aren't dissuading anyone. Whether Lauda or Hunt will win the 1976 season isn't the question. Whether they'll survive is.
Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan's Hunt and Lauda aren't portrayed as gods or men, but rather something else entirely; death-defying creatures of will and habit (respectively) to whom celebrity and daredevil become synonymous with risk and reward. Hunt embraces his every impulse and desire with abandon, yet exhibits such uncanny skill and control behind the wheel -- reckless as it might appears to a layman -- that he becomes an inexhaustible contradiction. His life is one of chaos and excess, stilled only when gambling with that very same life at breakneck speeds. Lauda, by contrast, is meticulous, obsessive and secretive; a tinkerer and genius with a restless mind and unflappable focus. His life is one of order and calculation, set free only when his endless efforts are put to the test. Both racers are drawn to the track but for such wildly different reasons that the rivalry that develops is between competing philosophies and ambitions rather than a contest between mere sportsmen. Hemsworth and Brühl commit to each role with the same passion and tenacity; they bear somewhat striking resemblances to Hunt and Lauda, sure, but it's their pursuit of truth, to the real Hunt and Lauda and everything that pulled them into the seat of their cars, that makes their performances so hypnotic.
The races, meanwhile, are a rush of adrenaline all their own. Using dozens of cameras, many mounted directly on the cars and drivers, Howard and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle create a startlingly involving and masterfully gripping sense of speed and danger. Hunt and Lauda's lives, rivalry and friendship are suddenly that much more fragile and finite, and the suspense that accompanies each lap -- each turn -- is nothing short of remarkable. (To be honest, it's all far more engrossing than this newcomer to F1 racing expected.) Every word and encounter off the track takes on an importance, even a finality, not normally demanded of an audience, and every moment on the track feels like it could be Hunt and Lauda's last. The film's desaturated, nostalgia-fueled '70s and at-times overly composed dialogue is a bit much -- Howard and Morgan occasionally seem more interested in evoking the post-Boom culture and sexual revolution than in necessarily recreating it -- but it's hard to fault the filmmakers for romanticizing the period and the F1 icons when dealing with "men who are willing to kill themselves driving in circles." Minor quibbles aside, Rush took me completely by surprise; quite a feat considering I went into it with zero knowledge of F1 racing, the history of the sport, or of Hunt and Lauda. I certainly didn't think I'd come away with a deep appreciation and awe of it all, yet that's exactly what happened.
Rush Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rush looks every bit as good as a recent theatrical release should courtesy of yet another terrific 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer from Universal. Colors are desaturated but beautifully so, with lovely, sunstruck skintones, rich black levels and excellent contrast. Detail is exacting as well, with naturally defined edges, nicely resolved textures and a hint of grain, perfectly preserved. There also isn't anything in the way of artifacting, banding, aliasing or other eyesores, other than a bit of red crush that can occasionally be spotted mid-race. A few inconsistencies crop up, but those that do aren't almost always -- if not always -- the product of the numerous (and various) cameras cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle employs during racing sequences. The bottom line? Rush's presentation pulls ahead of the pack.
Rush Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is just as impressive. Dialogue is intelligible, carefully grounded and realistically prioritized, as are all the accompanying effects, lending the soundscape a fitting docudrama quality. The rear speakers pull their weight with aplomb, adding subtle ambience to quieter scenes and enveloping believability to the race sequences, which prove to be incredibly immersive. Directionality is precise and convincing, and cross-channel pans whip from speaker to speaker like Hunt and Lauda whip around corners. LFE output is solid as well, even though the jarring boost in ferocity during races can be slightly overwhelming. Effective, mind you, but overwhelming. Add to that Hans Zimmer's score, which is both full and neatly folded into the soundfield, and you have a lossless track deserving of high marks.
Rush Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rush Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive."
Rush is and isn't a racing drama. It is in the sense that it offers more engrossing, thrillingly filmed races than any other movie in the genre, and isn't in the sense that its dual character study is so, so much more. Everything from Morgan's script to Hemsworth and Brühl's performances to Howard's direction are outstanding, and very little careens off the track. It's not only one of Howard's most refined and rewarding to date, it's one of 2013's best films. Thankfully, Universal's Blu-ray release eliminates all distraction with a first class AV presentation and a solid supplemental package. Yes, more special features would have been appreciated, but the hour of extras that's included is well worth watching. This one comes highly recommended.
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Rush Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: January 28-February 4 - January 26, 2014
For the week of January 28th, Universal Studios Home Entertainment streets Ron Howard's Rush on Blu-ray. Other titles include Paramount's Jackass spinoff Bad Grandpa, the 3D rock documentary Metallica: Through the Never, and HBO's season four and complete series ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Rush - January 17, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Universal Studios Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of director Ron Howard's Rush (2013), starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara. The film tells the true story of freewheeling ...
• Rush (2013) Blu-ray - December 3, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack release of director Ron Howard's Rush (2013), starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara. The film tells the true story of freewheeling ...
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