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Death Proof (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2007
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 113 Minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/Spanish/French/Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Sydney Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoe Bell
Written & Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 16, 2008

"It’s going to be a wild ride!"

Film Synopsis:

Director Quentin Tarantino delivers an adrenaline shot to the heart with Death Proof. Featuring exhilarating high-speed action, jaw-dropping stunts, and some of the most quotable lines since Pulp Fiction. Kurt Russell stars as a sociopathic stuntman whose taste for stalking sexy young ladies gets him into big trouble when he tangles with the wrong gang of badass babes. Their confrontation escalates into a hair-raising, 18-minute automotive duel with one of the girls strapped to the hood of a thundering Dodge Challenger.

My Take:

Before offering my feelings on this film I wanted to summarize a description that I found at Wikipedia as I think it offers brief but pertinent info:

”Death Proof is a 2007 thriller film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, about a psychopathic stunt man who targets young women, murdering them with his "death proof" stunt car. It is the second film by Tarantino to have a completely linear narrative (From Dusk Till Dawn being the first) and the first one to be shot by Tarantino himself. The film is a tribute to the muscle car movie genre of the 1970s, stars Kurt Russell, Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Sydney Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rose McGowan. Death Proof was released theatrically in the United States as part of a double feature with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror under the title Grindhouse in order to replicate the experience of viewing exploitation films in a "grindhouse" theater.”

I really like the Grindhouse concept. I had seen the trailer for Grindhouse while at the theater but I don’t recall ever seeing it playing locally. I am a fan of Kurt Russell’s and his presence in this film upped its potential for me. I thought Stunt Man Mike was an interesting character although he didn’t feel fully evolved. Understanding his motivation isn’t a prerequisite but some background might have made his reaction when faced with adversity clearer. Regardless I enjoyed Russell’s sinister take on him and got a kick out of his less than stalwart reaction when faced with three very pissed off ladies in the final act. The first segment played out a little darker and featured a bit more emphasis on the three female characters. It also had an incredibly sexy and memorable lap dance delivered by actress Vanessa Ferlito that is sort of the center piece of the segment. These girls had no idea of the sadistic nature of Stunt Man Mike or the magnitude of what he was capable of. Their conceit, naïve nature, and inexperience left them unable to see any of the rather obvious clues of his stalking. Arlene (Ferlito) had a feeling that he might have been following them but shrugged it off. Quite honestly after he targeted them I am not so sure if anything would have changed the outcome. This segment set up Mike’s mode of operation and more or less played it out fully. The second segment’s focal point was an adrenaline rush of a car chase that is sparked after Mike targets his latest victims who he has seriously underestimated. Like the ladies in the first segment, these are strong women, however the difference is that these are worldly and are up to the challenge both mentally and physically. The outcome was not what I expected which is always a plus.

I enjoyed Death proof and while it is considered a type of slasher film it didn’t feel that way. I thought the idea of a maniacal Stunt Man using his car as a killing machine is certainly original. The two segment breakdown worked well and I appreciated the obvious divide between the stories as they felt separate yet obviously connected. The car chase was lots of fun and its execution was top flight stuff. The 1970’s muscle cars were well represented well by Ford, Chevy and Dodge. The ending was a little abrupt but I had no problem with it. This isn’t Tarantino’s finest work but I rather enjoyed it.

Parental Guide:

The film contains strong violence, pervasive language, and thematic material not suited for younger viewers.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 84

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Death proof comes to Blu-ray Disc from The Weinstein Company featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.

This film has two distinctly different looks, one for each of its segments. The first segment utilizes the Grindhouse visual style that is intended to create an aging film effect by using a layering process to introduce the appearance of print damage that comes in the form of speckles, scratches running lines and obvious editing cuts. Its use here is not the extent of Planet terror but the effect is similar. In comparing my notes many of my comments from my review of Planet terror are applicable to this segment of Death proof. Here are a few of them:

“The color palette isn’t extensive and makes use of darker tones which matches the theme of the movie. The filtering and lighting used tended to water down fleshtones however they didn’t appear unnatural. Blacks had good dynamic range while being slightly crushed. Shadow delineation was decent which allowed me to discern enough detail within objects in dark backgrounds to give those sequences ample depth. I didn’t detect any obvious signs of video related anomalies but due to the nature of the video it wasn’t always easy to tell. Resolution and sharpness were very good overall and the video had appreciable dimensional depth and resolvable detail. The nature of the photography doesn’t lend itself to glossy, vibrant, imagery that jumps off of the screen.”

Colors were muted slightly and flesh tones lacked vibrance but it seems innate to the photography and/or is post processing related. The second segment opens in black and white and uses a grainy overlay that lasts for the first few minutes. Right in the middle of the scene it switches to color and loses the grainy texture. Resolution and sharpness are very good as images are crisp, with definitive lines and finely rendered detail that is distinguishable. Colors are lively with natural textures and vivid tones that are visually pleasing. Fleshtones are lustrous, with excellent tonal delineation and complexional character. The entire segment takes place during the day with most of it being filmed outdoors. The sun drenched wide angle shots and close ups during the car chase sequence looked great. There was enough contrast to empower colors and drive whites but never to the point of it appearing too dynamic or washed out. I thought the varying look of the film added to its appeal.

Like Planet terror this lossless sound mix offered dialogue that was clearly rendered and articulated through the center channel. I thought it could have been a bit more prominent within the front soundstage but that didn’t inhibit perception in any way. The presentation leaned more toward the front with the surrounds providing ambient and discrete sound support to extend the depth perception and presence of the film’s auditory elements. This created an engaging experience during the sequences featuring the cars used in the film. The dynamic energy and low frequency growl of the powerful engines coupled with enclosed feel of the interior, the speed, and wind rushing through the open windows was captivating as it seemed to ellipse the seating position. My comment from my review of Planet terror, with respect to bass response, is applicable here as well. I was impressed by the track’s well defined bass that never achieved demonstration like depth, but easily reached deep into the room to punctuate the low frequency detail present in the mix. Its presence was never in question as it struck quickly and subtly fell back below the surface. There is a healthy amount of bass energy that comes along with the souped up 400+ engines of the Chevy Nova, Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger and Challenger. The mix maintains excellent control and balance and while it may not be of reference quality it sounds great.

Bonus Features:

  • Stunts on wheels: The legendary drivers of Death proof - Featurette

  • Introducing Zoe Bell - Featurette

  • Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike - Featurette

  • Finding Quentin’s gals - Featurette

  • The uncut version of “Baby it’s you” – performed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead

  • The guys of Death proof - Featurette

  • Quentins greatest collaborator – Editor Sally Menke

  • Double dare trailer

  • Death proof – International trailer

  • An International poster gallery

  • Extended music cues

  • BD-Live – enabled – Access is not yet available

Final Thoughts:

There is no doubt that this is a Quentin Tarantino film. It fits right in with his passion for what he considers to be vintage era car chase films and adds a bit of a slasher movie type twist that when all was said and done worked out fine. It may not rate up there with his best works but I appreciated it for what it was and enjoyed it. Its debut on Blu-ray disc from The Weinstein Company is a good one and features excellent audio/video quality and respectable bonus supplements that include Blu-ray Disc Live access. This is a no brainer for fans but if you haven’t seen it you might want to give it a rent prior to purchase.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
post #2 of 7

By reading your commentary it seems you like the film but still you only gave it 2.5 stars. Error?
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by rveras View Post


By reading your commentary it seems you like the film but still you only gave it 2.5 stars. Error?


Yes! It should have been three not 2.5. Thanks rveras...

post #4 of 7
I love the Chevy Nova in this film. I own one. It is quickly becoming a very rare car now.
post #5 of 7
Death Proof is an excellent vehicule for a fresh renew introduction to Kurt Russell.
I think it is a natural for him in this role, he portrays his character to perfection.
The car stunts are a first in originality and just fantastic.
I think that Ralph nail this review pretty dead on.
Thanks for this and more.
post #6 of 7
This is a great film, It was a blind-buy for me and definetly like the movie alot!

post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by sharkcohen View Post

I love the Chevy Nova in this film. I own one. It is quickly becoming a very rare car now.[IMG]http://www.***************/img/io/iy.gif[/IMG]

I would buy the chevy nova any day of the week, that's if you can find one.
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