THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
Universal Home Video, $26.98
A LOUD, KINETIC, and goofy take on Plot 16-B ("undercover cop goes native") set in the subculture of high-performance street racing, Fast is a cinematic Twinkie: 107 minutes of fluff and sustained sugar rush. As such, its DVD packs as many empty calories as possible to satiate the ever-increasing consumer appetite for bells 'n' whistles.
Aside from standard bonus fare (inessential director's commentary, making-of featurette), the disc carries few interesting addenda. Of note are an option that dissects a boffo stunt sequence shot-by-shot—although wading through raw footage from all eight camera angles quickly becomes tedious—and a voyeuristic editing-room short that offers a rare glimpse into the eternal showdown between the MPAA Ratings Board and, uh, Art.
Confirming the devolution of movies into crass marketing tools, obvious corporate tie-ins commingle here alongside subtle examples of horizontal integration. Read the text of the original Vibe magazine article upon which the film is "loosely based"; play a demo version of an Activision video game; or enjoy a wholly unrelated music video by soundtrack lunks Saliva (yeesh).
While the disc's print and audio are pristine, its overall production design feels drab for a movie relying so heavily on gleaming alloy wheels and neon chassis lights. Adding to the torment are an un-fast-forwardable Universal Studios promo and don't try this at home! disclaimer that precede the film itself. Gearheads may rejoice, but since Fast said all it had to say the first time around, there really isn't anything left to do but sell, sell, sell.
THE NEW YEAR welcomes several new DVDs. The original '79 Mad Max comes out as an extras-laden special edition disc (Jan. 4), with original Aussie accents and a profile of its then fresh-faced star, Mel Gibson. No gem, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai . . . does have a cult following; fans will appreciate two hours of extras on its Jan. 4 release. Dreck like Jeepers Creepers, Greenfingers, and Stealing Beauty is also being rushed to market, while the real must-have for DVD-ophiles is Robert Altman's (again) timely 1970 war satire, M*A*S*H (Jan. 8), with director commentary and other features on two discs.