Based on a true story, James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari is a sensationally stirring sports drama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. The film races through the Ultra HD speedways powered by an extraordinary 4K HDR10 presentation, a reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack but a rather disappointing selection of bonuses. The overall UHD SteelBook package is nonetheless Highly Recommended.
(We have also reviewed the Blu-ray HERE.)
Even for those who don't follow the sport of auto racing, possess limited knowledge of sports cars in general or know even less about the event that inspired this film, Ford v Ferrari is nonetheless an unexpected thrill-ride firing on all cylinders, sure to turn anyone into a car lover for a couple hours. Or at the very least, audiences will walk away with a better appreciation for the art of designing racecars, an understanding of the exhilaration that comes from creating a machine that can run at high RPMs without blowing, crossing the finish line as the best in the world. And similar to the idea of constructing a world-class racing machine, filmmakers ingeniously cut out the excess from the true events (i.e., Shelby's personal rivalry with Ferrari) and focused only on the most essential aspects for a good story, eliminating the unnecessary weight affecting the speed and streamlined the body for the best possible ride.
Powered by an efficient, expertly-built script, the sports drama centers around automotive designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), a pair of conflicting personalities that find common ground for a single purpose and goal. The two visionary engineers made automotive history when defeating the Ferrari racing team in a high-performance Ford GT40 during the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race. And a good chunk of the story's success rides on the superb performances of Damon and Bale, and the two well-established actors play off each other with effortless authenticity, a partnership that grows into a deeper relationship and bond between men sharing a common passion. In spite of the title, this is not a David v Goliath, "us versus them" story. Rather, it's a personal tale about a friendship fueled and driven by a simple desire where each loss and gain is poignantly felt.
In the years since his explosive debut in the neo-noir sleeper hit Cop Land, director James Mangold has pretty much left an impressive mark in almost every genre he's touched, from the espionage thriller, romantic comedy and musical to the superhero, western and horror. Now, he lends his superbly unique talents for this sports-themed biopic, injecting an otherwise straightforward premise with a kind of kinetic energy that quickly accelerates to top speeds from the opening moments. Audiences are left in similar shock as Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) riding a prototype of the aforementioned GT. Working closely with cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska), Mangold's film is also visually dynamic and stunning to behold with one captivating moment after another. Be it on the racetrack speeding through vehicles or in a hangar listening to the race as the shadows of cars rush across the wall, the thrill of and desire for racing is continuously felt and enchanting.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings Ford v Ferrari to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc SteelBook combo pack, available exclusively at Best Buy stores. The package comes with a flyer for a Digital Copy, which can be redeemed via FoxDigitalMovies.com or Movies Anywhere, unlocking the 4K HDR10 version with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably atop a Region Free, BD50 disc on the same panel, and both are housed inside a glossy, attractive SteelBook. At startup, the UHD goes straight to the main menu screen with full-motion clips, the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.
The sports drama crosses the Ultra HD finish line powered by an outstanding HEVC H.265 encode, assembled exclusively from a high-performance Arri Alexa camera system revving at 4.5K resolution but later downshifted into a still vigorous 2K digital intermediate.
The results are an impressive step-up over its Blu-ray model, showing a slightly sharper definition overall. It may not be a win by a huge margin, but this upscaled transfer is a winner in either case where we can better make out the tiniest blemishes in the interior and exterior of every vehicle. The stitching and threading in the clothing, furniture and surrounding foliage are a bit more distinct, and facial complexions are highly revealing, exposing every pore, blemish, wrinkle and greasy smudge. From time to time, the sharpest edges waver to a very small degree and there are hints of very mild moiré effect along with the occasional softer than other sequences. In the end, the picture is beautifully detailed and stable.
Continuing the championship run, Phedon Papamichael's photography benefits tremendously, boasting a fuller and richer array of colors in every scene. It may not be a dramatic shift as seen other UHD releases, but the upgrade is nonetheless noteworthy to give this HDR10 presentation the advantage. The range of reds and blues, in particular, excel expectations, such as the arctic blue and crimson red of Shelby's GT40 racecar while Ferrari's vehicle remains a garishly flamboyant candy rose-red even when dirty. The boost in secondary hues is more nuanced but still visibly enhanced nonetheless with the softer browns and various tans showing slightly more variation while yellows are warmer with a vibrant canary glow in some of the lighting, and explosions brighten the screen with fiery tiger oranges. Some of the best moments though are the soft magenta pinks and indigo blues of the evening skies.
The real win in this 4K video, however, is the notable improvement in overall contrast and brightness, showering the action in intensely vivid and radiant whites, from the paint job of the many racecars, various logos and the flags to the clothing, clear clouds and in the numerous lights. Specular highlights come with a resplendent, ecstatic glow in the hottest spots without ruining the finer details while the sun's rays brilliantly sparkle and shine off the vehicles, the edge of clouds and especially watery surfaces, like the glistening roads of Le Mans. Black levels are also inkier and more luxurious than the HD model with the many articles of clothing, such as Shelby's hat, really standing out and looking gorgeously rich. At the same time, the 2.39:1 image is often bathed in velvety, swarthy shadows that penetrate deep into the screen while maintaining extraordinary visibility within the darkest, murkiest corners.
All in all, the UHD is stunningly magnificent and very cinematic. (Video Rating: 92/100)
Rolling straight off the assembly line, James Mangold's emotionally-driven actioner races to home theaters with an excitingly engaging and reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack, making it a superbly thrilling upgrade over its DTS-HD MA model.
Right from the start, the room comes alive with the rumbling, thundering roars of high-performance engines as they loudly screech all around the listening area. Immediately apparent is a powerfully potent and robust low-end that resonates with a hard, grumbling growl, providing each vehicle and racing sequence with a commanding presence that digs as low as 15Hz on several occasions (bass chart).
Meanwhile, the surrounds are terrifically effective with cars zooming past the listener and reverberating through the overheads, smoothly panning in every direction and generating an awesome hemispheric soundfield during the racing sequences. Other atmospherics, like the chirping of bugs and the fluttering of the flags, subtly travel through the sides, rears and above while the commotion of the cheering crowds echo all around and the rattling inside each car bounce everywhere.
Amid all the chaos and mayhem, dialogue remains distinct and well-prioritized, allowing every inflection and cadence in the performances to come through with crystal-clear clarity. In truth, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders' score do much of the leg work, exhibiting rich detailing and warmth in the instrumentation. Imaging continuously feels broad and spacious thanks to various background activity fluidly moving into the off-screen space and top heights, creating a captivatingly winning half-dome soundstage. The design displays superb definition and room-penetrating precision in the mid-range, making for a one-of-a-kind thrill ride. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 96/100)
A rather disappointing set of bonuses are only available on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
Based on the real-life rivalry at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race, James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari is a sensationally stirring sports drama that accelerates from 0-60mph in the opening moments and maintains top speed until crossing the finish line. Starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, Mangold's biopic of the two visionary engineers responsible for defeating Ferrari thrills with the same kinetic energy as the championship racing sequences. The film races through the Ultra HD speedways powered by an extraordinary 4K HDR10 presentation and superb, reference-quality Dolby Atmos soundtrack, showcasing a notable upgrade over its Blu-ray model. Although featuring a rather disappointing selection of bonuses, the overall UHD SteelBook package is nonetheless highly recommended.