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Though I'm not a car fanatic, I do occasionally enjoy the fetishization thereof. And I'm certainly not knowledgeable; if, at a party you back me into a corner to talk auto shop, I'll probably duck under the nearest table and crawl towards the wet bar. Then again, I do enjoy auto rarity, power, and performance, which is why I'm enjoying this Supercars DVD. For the record, if I became mildly wealthy and could afford a spare car or two for laughs, I'd take a 1972 Mustang Mach 1 and a 1987 Zimmer Quicksilver.
Serious fanatics of stratospheric, street-legal rides - the kinds that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, have top speeds starting at 150 MPH, and yearly production runs in the low dozens will find much to drool over in this 75-minute ode to horsepower. They'll also find stuff over which to scratch their heads. On the plus side, fan-friendly looks at some truly fantastic rides (that don't go so in-depth that dilettantes will be lost) and also other supercar-related areas of interest provide for pleasantly thrilling diversion. Demerits earned go towards poor image quality and somewhat strange narration.
About what you'd expect unfolds as the miles zip by in mere minutes: test drives on European roads and race tracks - all done by professional drivers - are narrated and translated for English speakers, and there's lots of talk related to cost, rarity, horsepower, time-to-100 KPH, (kilometers-per-hour - all measurements given are metric) handling, and fit and finish. My limited exposure to auto programs (the occasional lazy Saturday afternoon spent watching PBS car review programming) leads me to believe there's not much room for innovation, and Supercars does little to dispel that notion, though race profiles and other extra bits do expand the range somewhat.
However, our translated narration is curious. Fanatic tech-head talk is replaced by polite European manners. While the vehicles and images on display are certainly invigorating, accompanying audio straddles the line between an airline safety video and an old Disney nature documentary. I'm not sure what I'm looking for here, however it seems odd that descriptions of cars that can do zero to 100 KPH in four seconds could easily substitute for descriptions of alligator mating rituals.
Nonetheless, this feature-length bit of driver's fantasia should more than hold the attention of picky gear-heads. Profiled on this disc are: The Lamborghini Reventon, a battle between the BMW M3 and the Mercedes C63 AMG, The Ferrari Enzo, The Pagani Zonda, a look at a supercar junkyard, The Carlsson CK65 Eau Rouge, Japanese and Swedes enjoying the 'Nordschleife,' The KTM X-Bow, The Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale, (one of the world's loudest cars) a contemporary look back at The Audi Quattro S1 with Stig Blomqvist, The Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, and The Audi RS6.
If you've got a serious jones for European supercars, you'll likely get serious kicks from the profiles on this disc. You may be put off by the odd narration and far-less-than-stellar picture - two factors which notch this disc down into the realm of rental only - but nothing really slows these cars down.
Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen for 16 x 9 TVs, these supercars don't look so super. Graphics towards the end of the disc indicate that information may be missing from the top and bottom of the image, this is not much of a problem, considering that image isn't great to begin with. While colors are natural, the picture is very grainy, and not in a film-stock way. This is ugly, digital grain, which becomes pretty pronounced, not only when trees are zipping by, but also when cars zoom under trees during stationary shots. Motion blur, therefore, is a problem too. Detail levels are acceptable for the foreground, but degrade with speed in the distance, and aliasing is a serious concern.
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround sound are available in German and English, and both are up to snuff. Narration is clear and up front, but not too loud, with no degradation of the signal, and no competition from mostly muted zippy racetrack music. Using the 5.1 track and my faux surround sound setting for my set's speakers, audio becomes more robust and enveloping, showing increased dynamic range and placement.
Extras are quite limited. Onboard in the McLaren F1 GTR takes you for a two-minute driver's-view lap around a racetrack at high speed. Regardless of intent, this brief extra doesn't come close to conveying what it must be like to drive one of these machines. German and English audio tracks are available.
Poor picture quality, vaguely off-putting narration (too polite and a bit chirpy) and virtually zero extras make this otherwise tasty 75-minute look at some truly fabulous cars a bit of a disappointment. Would I enjoy owning a car that tops out at 360 KPH, knowing that only 100 other people on the planet are sporting the same ride? Indeed! But would I recommend this specialized DVD? No, but if you're getting excited thinking about this, you might not be too let down if you Rent It.