Blu-ray Review: Rush

If you’re not a fan of Formula One, or racing in general, it’s understandable that a film like Rush could slip through the cracks as something that’s just not that interesting. I mean, if you don’t know who James Hunt and/or Niki Lauda are by this point, why would you care to relive the rivalry the two shared back in the 1970s? Well, as someone who isn’t a fan of racing and didn’t know who these two were before watching the film, I’ll tell you why you should care: Because Rush is a phenomenal movie that puts character first and flourishes because of it.

One thing that helped screenwriter Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) craft this epic tale was his relationship with Lauda. When Morgan decided this was a story he wanted to tell, he was able to work with Lauda to help make the story as real as possible. What makes this so great is that Rush isn’t just Lauda’s side of the story; it’s a shared tale with both sides of the story told. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons Lauda got on board with Morgan. Morgan said that he’d show scenes he’d written to Lauda, who would then take out the “Hollywood” and bring it back to reality.

So in the end what we get is a story about two men, their passion to succeed in life how they see fit, and their desire to – above all else – outrace the other. Make no mistake; this isn’t a biography of either Hunt or Lauda. While the film does touch on their personal lives – briefly in most cases – it does so in a way that enhances character and pushes the story forward. Instead of dwelling on Hunt’s marital and monogamy problems, or Lauda’s own family drama, Rush focuses mainly on the Formula One season back in 1976, where both men strive for the world title, and lives were drastically changed in the process.

Director Ron Howard has once again proven himself behind the camera, this time taking the viewer into places we’ve never been before when it comes to racing films – greatly in part to the camera wizardry of cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire). The pair work together to bring a level of intensity to this drama that most straight-up action films wish they could achieve.

The pacing of the film is also top notch, with great editing work done by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill. Keeping the focus mainly on the rivalry and a single season was a smart move. Still, even with a one-year time frame, they manage to touch on many personal aspects of both men’s lives, as well as their earlier years in racing when they first met, all within a whirlwind of two hours time.

There’s a lot of talk that Rush was snubbed at the Oscars, especially when it comes to the performance of Daniel Bruhl as Lauda. Bruhl is absolute perfection in the part, and shockingly convincing to the point where Lauda’s actual friends thought it was the man himself when they heard him speaking. Hemsworth is also brilliant, and shares an eerie resemblance to the actual James Hunt. Overall, both men help elevate this movie to a level of prestige, and Bruhl is receiving quite a lot of recognition from other award shows.

As for the film itself, it would have been deserving of the 10th spot in the Best Picture category – which was left blank – but that just wasn’t meant to be. That shouldn’t sway you from not including it on your list of “Must See Films from 2013″ though, as Rush definitely belongs there.

The audio in the Blu-ray transfer is spectacular. Howard puts the viewer right into the driver’s seat, and the audio team makes sure it feels like you’re there too. The picture quality is also gorgeous, with some fantastic colour balance, and an overall crisp, clean look. This is definitely the whole package in terms of post work.

The special features aren’t abundant for those looking for a hefty package (noticeably lacking is a commentary track from Howard); however, there are some behind-the-scenes featurettes that delve into everything just enough so that they’ll satisfy most.

Race for the Checkered Flag: The Making of Rush
This is a six-part feature that is best viewed under the “Play All” option. It’s just over 30 minutes in total, and it’s told at the same brisk pace that the film was, touching on everything someone would likely want to know without really spending too much time on one area specifically. It’s definitely entertaining and informative, and well worth investing the time to watch.

The Real Story of Rush This feature comes in at just under 20 minutes in total, and is made up of three parts. This focuses more on the real story of Rush that helped make the film as accurate as it was.

Deleted Scenes – Like many deleted scenes, these were taken out for a reason. It’s clear after watching the first few that they’re all simply scenes that would’ve bashed information over the audiences head instead of simply mentioning it and moving on.

Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures Present in Association with Imagine Entertainment Rush. Directed by: Ron Howard. Written by: Peter Morgan. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara. Running time: 123 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released: January 28, 2014.

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