Michael Scott

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Baby Driver

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Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :4.5stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:



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Movie

At first glance Baby Driver is just your run of the mill heist movies. It focuses on a young kid (innocent at heart) who is drawn into a life of crime by some unknown mistake, and ends up falling in love with a girl. Girl brings out the best in him, he gets out, but suddenly realizes that long standing “hooks” that criminals have over their underlings and is drawn back in. Then comes the fight to survival and a way to exit the life without getting both of the young lovers killed. The end. By all accounts Baby Driver should have drifted away into a sea of similarly themed films, but, with director Edgar Wright at the wheel, Baby Driver is ANYTHING but run of the mill. Combining killer tunes with his legendary quirky sense of direction, Edgar molds and a creates a film that uses the music as an actual character that lives and breathes, adding another dimension to a seemingly cliched genre film. There’s some minor hiccups along the way, but Baby Driver still ends up being one of my favorite films of the year and for good reason.

Baby (yes, B-A-B-Y, played by Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for a local crime lord (played by Kevin Spacey). Indebted to this man, Baby is forced to drive all the getaway heists for said crime lord until his debt is paid off, which is done withing the first 15 minutes of the film. Loving that he has gotten out of his life of crime, Baby sparks up a relationship with waitress Debora (Lily James), takes on work as a pizza driver instead of getaway driver, and takes care of his foster father, Joseph (CJ Jones). The only thing is, his debt may be paid off, but crime always has a way of keeping its hooks in you once you start. Baby’s old boss won’t take no for an answer in having Baby come back as a fully paid part of the team, and now the getaway driver’s life is back in the dumpster that he fought so hard to get out of.

There is “one last job” to be done (yeah, we’ve all see how that works out in films), and Baby is the driver for another crew combined of the unpredictable “Bats” (Jamie Foxx), “Darling” (Eliza Gonzalez) and “Buddy” (Jon Hamm). While the rest of the crew are your typical hardened criminals, Baby drives and lives by the beat of his own drum. He listens to music like most of us breathe oxygen, letting it flow through his body, revitalizing his spirit and his muscles, and fueling each and every one of his drives. However, this job is going to be like no other, as Baby is done following orders, and he has an entirely new set of objectives in his mind, and it will make for exhilarating ride that will not long be forgotten.
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Baby Driver is infectiously entertaining and left me with a giant, sloppy, grin ALL over my face by the time the credits roll. The movie is simple in premise, but ingenious in execution, which makes it all the more entertaining when you sit down and think about it. We’ve heard the story before about a criminal with a heart of gold leaving the business, but Edgar Wright’s infatuation with music as an actual character in the movie makes this a work of art. There have been many movies with music as the score, but very few actually have the textural feel and vibrations that the music here does. It acts as the storyteller, the narrator, the lover, AND the co-pilot all in one. Each song is cleverly chosen to fit the mood of the scene at hand, and each songs tells a little piece of the action, while blending in seamlessly with the spoken words and actions on screen.

Everyone in the film plays their role to a T, and this little Bonnie and Clyde meets Romeo and Juliet tale of crime just revels in the fantasy nature of the film. Kevin Spacey doesn’t get as much time as you would expect, but he is devilishly fun as the crime boss that only Kevin Spacey could play. Jamie Foxx is excellent as the over the top, and slightly nuts, Bats, While Jon Hamm’s “Buddy” is a scene stealer of epic style. The world of high stakes crime and incredible stunt driving allows for a wildly kinetic ride that just grips ahold of you and doesn’t let go, while actually fleshing out and allowing us to experience the story from several different character’s points of view. No matter the criminal, no matter the hero, Wright weaves the story in such a way that you actually feel for and empathize with them all. Even if you’re rooting for one of them to win.





Rating:

Rated R for violence and language throughout




Video: :4stars:
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Baby Driver was filmed using a mixture of 35mm film stock and digital Arri Alexa cameras, and then finished at a 2K DI for home video. The Blu-ray right off the bat will look a LITTLE soft, but it fits exactly what I saw in the theaters a few months ago due to Edgar Wright’s tweaking of the image. Still, there is plenty of fine detail to go around as you can see the peach fuzz on Baby’s face, as well as intimate clothing details and the lines and creases around Jamie Foxx’s face. Colors are bright and very mildly hot on the saturation levels, with the bright red of the cherry looking car at the beginning, down to the slightly ruddy complexion on faces and skin tones. Contrast is well balanced, and the darker aspects of the film don’t really show any major artifacting besides some banding that is very very mild. It’s not going to be 100% demo worthy, but the Blu-ray looks very faithful to my remembrance of the theatrical viewing in Digital Imax, and I give it a solid thumbs up.






Audio: :4.5stars:
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One of the biggest draws and enjoyment factors of Baby Driver’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix is the superb use of the music interspersed with the more action and dramatic elements of the film. Instead of having a score, Baby Driver is loaded with a groovy mix of genre songs that Baby himself listens to on all of his heists. We’ve got everything from Queen to James Brown, and a whole lot in between to funkify the sound track. Music flows effortlessly between each and every scene as well as all 6 speakers with ease, and the LFE channel is worked HARD with all sorts of mid bass. The opening heist rocks deep and heavy, with great use of all 5 main speakers as well as some rib cracking mid bass. The film softens up a bit near the center as the more dramatic elements are explored, and this brings a decidedly front heavy mix to the front, but the track still maintains excellent dialog and a superb use of surrounds with ambient noises to keep it engaging and immersive.





Extras: :4.5stars:
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• Extended/Deleted Scenes – 20 minutes of extended scenes and a few moments that were dropped from the final cut.
• Mozart In A Go-Kart: Ansel Drives – Ride shotgun with star Ansel Elgort as he works with the talented stunt drivers to become the ultimate getaway driver.
• I Need A Killer Track: The Music – Explore how the film's phenomenal soundtrack dictated both the writing process and all aspects of production on Baby Driver.
• That's My Baby: Edgar Wright – Follow Edgar Wright's vision of Baby Driver from its inception two decades ago, to its ultimate realization on the big screen.
• Meet Your New Crew: Doc's Gang – Led by powerhouse Kevin Spacey, the cast assembled to form Doc's gang is perfectly constructed with stars like Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm as well as up and coming talent like Eiza González and Jon Bernthal. Go behind the scenes to see this talented group at work as they bring these characters to life.
• Find Something Funky On There: The Choreography – With every frame of Baby Driver set to a specific beat it took precise choreography by the cast, crew and editors to create a cinematic dance like nothing that's been done before. Hear from the choreographer and filmmakers on this groundbreaking process.
• Devil Behind The Wheel: The Car Chases – From closing down Atlanta's interstates to creating eyepopping maneuvers for a variety of vehicles, witness the amazing craftsmanship and sheer determination that made the film's incredible car chases possible.
• Animatics – Check out over 35 minutes of the numerous pre-vis animatics developed by Edgar Wright as part of his meticulous preparation.
• Ansel Elgort Audition – See firsthand the audition that proved without a doubt that Ansel Elgort was the perfect choice for Baby.
• Annotated Coffee Run Rehearsal – Day one of production involved one of the film's most elaborately choreographed sequences where every movement is carefully crafted. Check out the preliminary rehearsal and see the behind the scenes movement in concert with Ansel Elgort's on camera choreography.
• Hair, Make Up & Costume Tests – In this stylized montage, witness the transformation of the actors through costume, hair and make-up tests.
• Mint Royale – "Blue Song" Music Video – This music video directed by Edgar years ago for the band Mint Royale showcases some early inspiration for Baby Driver.
• Complete Storyboard Gallery – See the elaborate storyboards developed for the film in this gallery featuring storyboards for the entire film.
• Director Commentary
• Filmmaker Commentary (Edgar Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope)









Final Score: :4.5stars:


Edgar Wright’s new film is distinctly different than his British films such as Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead or The World’s End, and is much more toned down the over the top comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but still maintains his extremely unique flair and visual styling’s that made him famous. The film can rightly be described as style that is PART of the substance, as the groovy track and classic musical numbers make up a goodly portion of the film’s tone and textural vibe without sacrificing the story in any way. The video is an excellent representation of the theatrical experience and the audio track is just incredible material. What really surprised me was the VERY large amount of extras that are on the disc. With physical media skimping on extras like no time in DVD/Blu-ray history, it’s refreshing to find a disc that actually has lots and lots of goodies to delve into. Final recommendation? This is a must watch for 2017 and a must buy for me personally.




Technical Specifications:

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, Thai DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Sony
Rated: R
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 10th, 2017







Recommendation: Must Watch

 

Todd Anderson

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Great review, Mike. I missed this in the theaters despite lots of friends signing its praises... can’t wait to see it!

Interesting they only released a 5.1 encode... although I always felt the DTS-HD MA flicks sounded better that Dolby TrueHD films. Still... why not 7.1?
 

Michael Scott

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I believe 5.1 was the theatrical mix
 

Todd Anderson

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Ah.... I see. 4K release has an Atmos mix. Which really raises the question: why not release the 4k film in DTS X???
 

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Thanks for the review. Will add this to my watch list. :)
 

Michael Scott

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I took a glance, I was wrong. It was theatrically an Atmos and 7.1 mix... Sony has a habit of putting the Atmos tracks on their UHD films while putting the 5.1 or 7.1 (usually 5.1 I've noticed) on the Blu-ray ... most likely a carrot to enhance the appeal of the 4K UHD buy vs. the Blu-ray. (Fox does the same thing)

as for the DTS-HD MA for one and Dolby for the other... it seems Dolby is used on Sony releases nearly exclusively and DTS-HD MA for their Blu-ray tracks... most likely because each one is the most popular for the different tiers (Dolby TrueHD is still around, but except for Atmos core tracks they're minimally used in the regular Blu-ray war anymore... DTS won that particular war. A war that Dolby is winning in the object based track war pretty handily)

Though it's not a horrible thing in this case. the 5.1 track is IMPRESSIVE...
 

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I had a conversation with one of the industry’s top audio experts about DTS HD MA and Dolby TrueHD. I wish I could remember specifics, but I believe he explained why DTS sounded better than TrueHD. I’ll see if I can find some notes. If I recall, both offer 24-bit/96kHz Audio... but stream at different rates?

Hopefully this will ring a bell and someone will chime in...

I always felt the HD MA sounded fuller and more vibrant. But, could just be crazy ;-)
 

Michael Scott

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honestly once I level match a track and compare, it's REALLY hard to tell any noticeable differences. back in the day they used to have BOTH a DTS and Dolby track on certain Blu-rays (Close Encounters being one of them) and as long as they didn't adjust the bit rate or depth , use of level matching gave out nearly identical results. DTS-HD MA was usually recorded 2-4 DB hotter than TrueHD which most people seemed to consider better (louder is usually perceived that way)
 

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I think the bit rates were different??? Wasn't TrueHD native 18mbps?
 

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Well I will be, Mike is right on....AGAIN !! I loved every inch of this movie and some of the staged dance that fit the music is off the charts Baby. I would have to highly recommend this movie to any lover of fun action movies.
 
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Jack

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honestly once I level match a track and compare, it's REALLY hard to tell any noticeable differences. back in the day they used to have BOTH a DTS and Dolby track on certain Blu-rays (Close Encounters being one of them) and as long as they didn't adjust the bit rate or depth , use of level matching gave out nearly identical results. DTS-HD MA was usually recorded 2-4 DB hotter than TrueHD which most people seemed to consider better (louder is usually perceived that way)

This is true, the DTS was a bit hotter in the past but I have not checked it in awhile. Once levels were matched as close as I could get them, the sound was pretty much the same.
 
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