Are you ready for some racing???!!! No.
I will never understand the appeal of watching high-speed cars racing on a giant track. To me, it's about as exciting as golf, another so-called sport. So imagine my enthusiasm, or lack thereof, when I received A Decade at the Brickyard to review. I consider myself a responsible critic, so I always give each disc a fair shot. Some, such as Golf: The Ridiculous Obsession and Home Movie have been a real pleasure to view. Others such as The Scheme still give me nightmares. Released in tandem with the abysmal Tony Stewart: Smoke, I braced myself for the worst when I popped the disc in the player.
It's not a bad documentary. It has some of the same problems as Tony Stewart: Smoke, but working in its favor, this isn't a profile of one man; it's an overview of the Brickyard 400, a relatively recent NASCAR event. I had never heard of it until now, but as I explained before, I am not a racing fan. Of cars, that is.
The main problem is that it is difficult to condense ten years of highlights into a 72-minute documentary. It took WWE ten hours just to give Ric Flair a proper retrospective and they had thirty years of matches to choose from. The proper thing to do would have been to include the final laps in their entirety inside the documentary rather than relegating them to the extras. The opening montage moves too quickly and is too flash oriented to be truly effective.
But still, there are some good moments here. Listening to various competitors comment on the races was a good idea. It gives us some insight into what these men were thinking. Ken Squier's narration helps us non-fans understand the mechanics behind and during the race.
As with the Tony Stewart disc, Universal Music has once again done a good job with the transfer. Presented mainly in full frame, with a few select 1.66:1 non-anamorphic segments, it looks very good. There is some grain in some scenes; others have an undeniable haziness. Edge enhancement is more evident this time, particularly in close-ups. On the positive side, the colors are fresh and vibrant with no evidence of artifacting.
The sound is superb. Leonard Maltin described the sound in the Led Zeppelin concert film The Song Remains the Same as "the film will clean out all eight sinus cavities." Imagine what he would say about the sound for A Decade at the Brickyard. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, there is one word to describe it: loud. You will feel like you are right there on the track. It's the sonic equivalent of a barium enema.
Some decent extras are included. A detailed listing of the winners and top scorers for each Brickyard 400 event are included and it's helpful for keeping score. A much sweeter extra is the option of actually watching the final laps of each race. This footage is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. A five-question foolproof trivia game will unleash an interesting extra: a tour of the Brickyard 400 course with NASCAR great Jimmy Rutherford.
If you have the urge to rent a NASCAR disc, this one is perhaps the best one to choose. It's not a great disc, but it is moderately informative and entertaining. It's not my cup of tea, so I cannot recommend a purchase except to the most devoted fans.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Universal Music
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