Ultra HD
Recommended
4 stars
Amazon
$27.96
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
4 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Baby Driver - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Street Date:
October 10th, 2017
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 10th, 2017
Movie Release Year:
2017
Studio:
Sony
Length:
116 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
R
Release Country
United States

Editor's Notes

Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the standard, day-and-date Blu-ray release, also written by M. Enois Duarte. Specifically, this review features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, Audio and Final Thoughts sections while both reviews share The Movie Itself and Special Features.

For a full in-depth review of the Blu-ray SDR HERE.

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

In Edgar Wright's relatively short career — he's only directed six films, three of which were successful, Baby Driver being his biggest hit yet — he's shown a strange love affair with familiar formulas often seen as tired and worn out. However, his incessant tweaking and meddling with commonplace tropes have revealed a talent for reigniting interests in those truisms, as proven by the rapid cult status rise of all his films. And this latest action crime drama does precisely that: a surprisingly entertaining and thrilling genre filmmaking exercise that delivers the goods.

The title is actually pretty simple, which in turn, arguably reflects the plot's central theme and the filmmaker's overall goal. It's the name of our principal protagonist, played intentionally cold and indifferent by Ansel Elgort. And he is, you guessed it, a driver! In fact, we're told by the mysterious criminal mastermind known only as Doc (Kevin Spacey) the babyface kid — get it, a young man with a face so smooth it's never been touched by a razor and his name is Baby — is the best getaway driver in the biz. (I'm hip with the crime lingo.) And to demonstrate this, Wright opens the film with Elgort behind the wheel of a red, sporty Subaru waiting for bank robbers and listening to music that not only puts him in the mood and right state of mind, but the collection of iPods in his pockets are a plot device for the character while allowing some wildly creative touches. Baby uses music to help drown out the ringing in his ears from tinnitus, which he developed from a car accident, and Wright uses the tunes as an opportunity for pacing action sequences according to each song's rhythm, which frankly, is the reason why this movie is so freaking cool.

In that same opening, after bank robbers (Jon Hamm, Eiza González and Jon Bernthal) jump in the car, Baby screeches and skids through busy city streets like an expert drift racer. The car stunts are not wholly original — and this goes for the entire movie — but they are nonetheless noteworthy. First, they are mostly practical with very little or barely perceptible CGI, adding to the thrills of seeing head-on collisions and the many near misses. And second, the scenes are so incredibly well-edited and timed with the diegetic music, they feel fresh and exciting, even going so far as to almost seem wildly unpredictable. A favorite is the armed truck job where a civilian in a pickup truck decides to be hero and pursue the criminals. Meanwhile, The Damned's "Neat Neat Neat" plays loudly in the background, making the audience grip the armrest tightly. However, the highlight must be the final heist — you know the one, the last job before getting out permanently but it predictably all goes wrong. The ensuing gunfire and ricocheting bullets go perfectly to the hard-rock beat of Focus's classic "Hocus Pocus," and it is practically a thing of electrifying craftsmanship.

And being a standard genre piece that doesn't deter much from the formula, the tension in Baby Driver doesn't come only from the dangerous stunts. Our would-be but ever so reluctant hero needs a reason to want out this lifestyle while at the same time being the motive behind that one final, fateful big score. And this comes by way of the unrealistically friendly waitress Debora (Lily James), flashing a smile and a singing voice that makes Baby's heart skip a beat. Although this aspect of Wright's plot feels somewhat obligatory and a bit contrived, the character serves her purpose as the love interest itching at the back of Baby's mind while also giving rise to the suspense, particularly when Jamie Foxx as the violently impulsive Bats makes an appearance and feels threatened by the naturally talented driver. This could all be argued as the film's weakest area, but it could also be a larger, albeit rather minor, drawback of the subgenre as a whole, seen in other crime thrillers like ThiefHeat and Drive. Nevertheless, it's to Wright's credit that we forgive this during the moment and simply enjoy the thrilling, fast-paced ride while listening to some awesome tunes.

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings Baby Driver to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for an UltraViolet Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via sonypictures.com/uvredeem, except I was unable to. However, the code worked perfectly through VUDU, and the movie is available in SD, HDX (1080p) and UHD with Dolby Vision. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black keepcase with glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to an interactive main menu that changes screens when switching between the usual options while music plays in the background.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Edgar Wright's exceptional genre exercise handles the tight curves and tough streets of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray thanks to a fantastic HEVC H.265 encode that shockingly leaves its Blu-ray counterpart in the rearview mirror.

Shot on a combination of traditional 35mm film and digital cameras capable of up to 3K resolution, the freshly-minted transfer screeches unto the scene with excellent detailing in the architecture of buildings, the gravel of city streets and Baby's apartment. The various cars throughout expose some of the finer aspects of each one, from the stitching of the leather and the fabric interiors to the chrome trim exteriors. Interestingly, whereas much of the stylized photography resulting from what looks like diffusion filters made things seem a smidge soft and dreamy on Blu-ray, it does not appear as prominent or noticeably on UHD. Instead, we have a consistently sharp and well-defined picture, exposing the tiniest negligible blemish and imperfection in the cast.

Also, brightness levels are massively improved in HDR10. The blacks in clothing and other various objects are true and accurate from beginning to end. With exceptional gradational differences between the various shades, some of the cars are inky rich and opulent while some of the clothes worn by others look silky smooth. The shadows, too, benefit tremendously, allowing for superb visibility of the finer details during the many nighttime sequences and in the dimly-lit environments, providing much of the 2.39:1 image with appreciable depth. Contrast is also a tad brighter than its HD counterpart, delivering brilliant, pitch-perfect whites, making Baby's and Doc's shirts look immaculate. Strong specular highlights give the edges of cars a beautiful and realistic sparkle while the metal trims glisten in the sun.

Unlike the Blu-ray, the palette doesn't seem affected by the film's deliberate look in the least. In fact, the 4K presentation comes with a sumptuous, radiate array of primaries that animate even the darkest scenes. Reds in Bo's diner have a slightly deeper, truer tone while the cars show a distinctly different, almost cherry-colored shade. Blues are electrifying, greens pop with life and yellows are resplendent, true to life. The sequence inside the laundromat, as blankets of different colors tumble in the dryer, makes for a nice demo scene. The rest of the photography is showered with warm, energetic secondary hues, giving the natural skin tones a healthy rosiness. 

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Baby stylishly eludes the police with a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that surprisingly leaves its DTS-HD MA counterpart in the dust, consistently pulling viewers into the thick of action and as though sitting in the getaway car.

As before, when the action gets going, various discrete effects pan into the surrounds and convincingly circle the listening area. Only, this time, the noise of city traffic, gunfire and screeching tires echo into the ceiling speakers. You can also hear the cars being left behind as Baby zooms past them. But most impressive are the helicopters following the chase from high above, creating an awesomely cool dome-like effect. Each blade of the rotor is distinctly heard slapping the air as though hovering over the house, and there are a few moments when a couple helicopters fly overhead from one side of the room to the other. Compared the DTS-HD track, this object-based version is far more consistent and enveloping, as various sounds flawless zip and pan across the room with convincing off-screen clarity. With a majority of that activity maintained within the front soundstage, other atmospherics spread evenly across the three channels with exceptional separation and balance, generating a welcoming and broad sense of space that's highly engaging.

The mid-range noticeably benefits from the extra breathing room, exhibiting superb clarity and distinction during the loudest moments. Steven Price's score and the various song selections fill the room with warmth and fidelity, beautifully bleeding into the sides and front heights naturally. Each crunch of metal on metal during the many crashes is detailed and reverberates throughout the room with appreciable realism. Amid the vehicular mayhem, vocals are never drowned out by the loud collisions, which is much appreciated since Ansel Elgort's character is very soft spoken. For bass enthusiasts, this lossless mix delivers an awesomely palpable and highly responsive low-end that brings the sort of substantial impact and weight expected from the visuals, providing the action and music with couch-shaking presence.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Audio Commentaries: A pair of commentary tracks kick off with writer and director Edgar Wright amusingly explaining the story's genesis, inspirations, various areas of the production and the role of music in the story. The second is a conversation with Wright and cinematographer Bill Pope on the technical aspects, the look of the film, photographing the practical stunts and the shooting locations.

Selected Scene Animatics (HD, 36 min): Eight animated pre-viz videos made prior to shooting.

Rehearsals & Pre-Production (HD, 17 min): A trio of auditions, rehearsals and screen tests.

Meet Your New Crew: Doc's Gang (HD, 11 min): Discussion on the characters in Doc's heist crew.

That's My Baby: Edgar Wright (HD, 9 min): On the director's approach and preparation to the project.

Devil Behind the Wheel: The Car Chases (HD, 7 min): Preparation and shooting the practical stunts.

Mozart In a Go-Kart: Ansel Drives (HD, 6 min): The actor trains for his role as an experienced drifter.

I Need a Killer Track: The Music (HD, 6 min): Interviews on the role of specific song selections.

Find Something Funky on There: The Choreography (HD, 6 min): The marriage of songs to the stunts and action.

Music Video (HD): Mint Royale performs "Blue Song."

Deleted Scenes (HD, 21 min): Eleven deleted and extended scenes.

Storyboard Gallery (HD): Four collections of storyboard images that can be watched separately.

Promotional Material (HD): An extensive assortment of previews and TV spots.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Other than the UHD Blu-ray with HDR10, there are no exclusive features on this release.

Final Thoughts

Edgar Wright's Baby Driver is a surprisingly entertaining and thrilling genre exercise that delivers the goods. Although its adherence to formula leaves little room for surprises, the crime thriller nonetheless feels fresh and exciting because of practical car stunts that were designed to the rhythm and beat of specific song selections. The movie speeds through the streets and highways of 4K Ultra HD with a fantastic HDR video and an awesome Dolby Atmos track, a presentation that leaves its Blu-ray counterpart in the dust. With a treasure trove of supplements, the overall package screeches home and is recommended for fans of Wright and heist thrillers in general.

Technical Specs

  • Two-Disc UHD Combo Pack
  • UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc / BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 2160p HEVC/H.265

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.39:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby Atmos
  • English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
  • French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, Arabic, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • Featurettes
  • Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Promotional Material
  • UltraViolet Digital Copy

Exclusive HD Content

  • Blu-ray Copy

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