The first thing that comes into the minds of most movie buffs when someone says New Zealand is "Lord of the Rings." Gorgeous rolling hills, absolutely incredible views, and some of the most lush surroundings in the world. But this movie shows there is more to New Zealand than meets the eye.
"The Worlds Fastest Indian" takes us into the life of New Zealander Burt Munro. He is 68 years old and a legend in New Zealand. Burt loves speed, and is grudgingly loved by everyone in his small town of Invercargilli, even his next-door neighbors who deal with his early morning tinkering on his motorbike. Burt's prize possession is his 1920's Indian motorbike, which he has done quite a bit of modification to in his shed. His only goal in life is to race it on the Bonneville Speedway salt flats in Utah to break the land speed record.
When I first heard about the premises behind "The Worlds Fastest Indian" I was confused, and I honestly didn't think that I would be even mildly entertained. But "The Worlds Fastest Indian" is so much more than a mere racing movie. It is a tale of Burt Munro's life and the people that he meets in his journey to America. Director Roger Donaldson has done an incredible job bringing Burt's character to life with a perfect casting choice of Anthony Hopkins. Anthony Hopkins does everything near perfect to fit Burt's character: his accent, the way he movies, even his lovable charisma is outstanding. It is quite possibly the best performance of his life.
As Burt journeys to America, he meets many people and creates relationships that really make Burt's unique personality and outlook on life stand out. His travels begin in 1967, which in itself was an interesting time in American history, but that doesn't faze easygoing Burt. From a cross-dressing hotel clerk, to a helpful old Native American, to a lonely older woman, to giving a ride to a military man, they all help him reach the salt flats in time for the race. Once there, he captures the hearts of the other racers and workers...they all cheer him on in hopes of him reaching his goal.
"The Worlds Fastest Indian" is an incredible tale that dives much deeper then just speed and motorcycles. It is a charming, fun movie for people of all ages and interests. I know my wife was not so excited to watch a movie about motorcycles, but was incredibly surprised by what we were given. "The Worlds Fastest Indian" is an incredible movie with truly brilliant acting and story that can please everyone.
Presented in 1080p/MPEG-2, which differs from its HD DVD counterpart with a VC-1 transfer. I was honestly disappointed. There are a lot of people that will tell you that the video was stunning. Shot with in the Super35 format, the grain is completely distracting. Indoor and poorly lit scenes are disgustingly grainy and distract from your viewing pleasure. Don't get me wrong--there are some absolutely stunning scenes. Outside shots on the salt flats are beautifully bright with nice contrast. There are also times where the detail is spectacular, usually in close-up shots of Burt on his motorbike. Throughout the movie, the skin tones are very nice and warm, with the blacks very deep and rich.
The cinematography is perfect. There are so many shots that will wow you in many ways, especially while Burt is riding. There are many shots that make you feel as if you are actually riding on the Indian with Burt, and your sense of how fast he is going is very apparent.
My only complaint is the noise/grain. Unfortunately, it is distracting enough to make me drop the video down a couple of stars.
Magnolia does a great job giving us a nice 5.1 DTS HD track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus track. The sound is very nice during race scenes. There is a scene that takes place on the beach of New Zealand in which several bikes are racing Burt on his Indian. As each bike revs up, the room is filled with great low ends that will ring pleasantly in your ears.
As far as the rest of the movie, most events take place during his journeys and therefore do not require much sound. Because of this, I don't think they really took care of the sound as much as they could have. The lows are good, but the use of surround is very subtle. To be fair, I really enjoyed the audio because it didn't need much of a surround track unless it was during a race scene.
Overall, a good quality transfer that is pleasing enough to help the movie flow.
Commentary w/ writer/director Roger Donaldson: One of the greatest parts about Roger Donaldson is that he actually was the director of the Documentary that we also get on the disc "Offerings to the God of Speed." His commentary is filled with facts about character development, especially in Anthony Hopkins' case and his choice to cast him. One neat fact was that they actually opened the film in Invercargilli and he talks about the reaction of the people in the town. Donaldson talks about how difficult it was to make things look fast in the sand flats where there was nothing to use around them as a speed reference. He also touches on making replica bikes, perfecting the script and some history that they were able to implement into the movie.
The Original Documentary, "Offerings to the God of Speed": This documentary was made in 1971 and was, as I said earlier, created by Roger Donaldson. Thought made years and years ago, the documentary was very well shot, and it still hits right at home. There are so many great quotes that Burt said in the documentary that carried into "The Worlds Fastest Indian." This in itself was absolutely fun and entertaining to see how closely Anthony Hopkins pulled off the accent and the life of Burt Munro. A couple other really fun things to see were the race cars and motorbikes with actual footage from 1971. The documentary is a good way to see who Burt really was...with lots of nice insights to his life, and some extraordinary character development that moves itself info "The Worlds Fastest Indian."
Probably my favorite quote that Burt says is, "You can live more in 5 minutes in some of these events, then some people do in a lifetime." You can really get to know Burt, and his passion for racing and speed. This was his life...his main reason to live.
Southland: Burt's Hometown of Invercargilli: This feature was an interesting promo for Southland. It is just a quiet soundtrack that follows some highlights of Southland. Lots of fun excursions horseback riding, kayaking, waterfalls...yada yada yada. Now lets all go to Southland!
4 Deleted Scenes: This really doesn't have much relevance to the plot. I honestly didn't find any of the scenes to be extremely beneficial and was only slightly entertained by them.
Soundtrack Promo: This was a picture of the CD for the movie...that's it.
"The Worlds Fastest Indian" is one of the best-acted and well put-together movies in the last couple of years. Anthony Hopkins does a stunning job with his acting; definitely putting himself into the shoes of Burt Munro with such ease he makes us believe he is Burt Munro. The video is okay; as I said before, I personally was quite distracted by the amount of noise. The sound is good, with some nice low ends and an entertaining track. As a whole, "The Worlds Fastest Indian" is great. I highly recommend this one to anyone.