A film that I remember fondly because it was the first large-format film I'd ever seen when I was little, "Speed" is a 1984 IMAX film from the makers of such large format films as "Everest". The documentary takes a look at man's exploration of speed, starting off with an amusing scene where a primitive hunter finds himself the target of faster prey.
The film goes on to chronicle the development of the bicycle and then further and faster achievements in speed, both on land and in the air, including newsreel footage of pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, the development of rocket-powered racers and new ways of flight.
The film was originally a very popular IMAX release when it first came out in the mid-1980's. Today, the information seems somewhat dated, but the film is still fun viewing - and mainly fun. While some IMAX fare provides an equal balance of entertainment and education, "Speed" leans a little more towards the entertainment side. Although the film is now 20-years-old, the picture still provides sleek cinematography that captures the action well.
VIDEO: Image Entertainment presents "Speed" in both 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. The anamorphic widescreen presentation generally looked fantastic. Sharpness and detail were not outstanding, but remained consistently very good. The film does present some light grain and a couple of tiny compression artifacts, but the print looked in fine shape otherwise and no edge enhancement was noticed. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: Image Entertainment presents "Speed" in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. While not up to the level of a modern soundtrack, I was pleased and very surprised with how this 20-year-old film sounded. The first thing that greatly impressed was how punchy and dynamic the soundtrack was. From the tribal drums to the jet engine-powered racers, the audio remained forceful. Of particular note is a scene showing footage of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier. The subwoofer bass that accompanies the sound effect is very, very powerful.
There are moments of distinct and very enjoyable surround use, as cyclists pass by or cars roar through. However, surround use in the film didn't always seem entirely seamless (although the DTS soundtrack seemed to be a little better in this regard), although considering the film's age, I still find it remarkable that the film sounds as exceptional as it does.
EXTRAS: The main supplement included in this set is an additional DVD that includes the film in WMV High Definition. This can only be played on a PC DVD-ROM drive. Requirements include Windows XP, 2.4GHZ processor,64MB video card,384MB of RAM and a 16-bit sound card.
Unfortunately, there is little in the way of supplements on the making of the movie. There is a quiz on the film, trailers for other IMAX features and more on the film's producers.
Final Thoughts: "Speed" is lighter IMAX fare, a little on the short side and mainly about fun and entertainment. A very popular IMAX feature upon release, fans will likely be pleased to see it finally hit DVD. Image Entertainment's DVD edition doesn't provide much in the way of supplements, but it does offer very good audio/video quality and a WMV HD edition of the film, for those whose PCs are up to the task. Recommended.