In the fast-paced world of NASCAR, a rivalry brews between rookie hotshot Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) and veteran racer Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker). When both of them are seriously injured in competition, the former bitter rivals become close friends. With Cole’s spirits restored by a romance with neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), and Rowdy still sidelined by injuries, Cole decides to race Rowdy’s car in the Daytona 500 against underhanded newcomer Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes).
Plot: A young hot-shot stock car driver gets his chance to compete at the top level.
Director: Tony Scott
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Runtime: 107 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Days of Thunder has Tom Cruise and plenty of flash going for it, but they aren’t enough to compensate for the stock plot, two-dimensional characters, and poorly written dialogue.
“A new, fresh coat of paint in UHD.”
This movie was originally shot on 35mm, but for this 2020 release it was given a fresh, brand new 4k digital intermediate! On top of that, as per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in both Dolby Vision & HDR10. (There’s a lot of grain in this release, so grain-haters beware.) I have to be honest, I had never seen this film before so I needed to find a way to compare this disc to the previous source — luckily Showtime had it so I streamed a few scenes to compare. If the stream I watched is the best source prior to this release, this new transfer laps it a few times — it’s a night and day difference.
The new level of sharpness is miles above the previous release — you can make out every droplet of sweat on the characters faces; including the new pores, stubble, blemishes and dirt. Even little things like the patches on the NASCAR jumpsuits have added dimension. It’s not perfect release by any means, there’s still plenty of soft shots where the sharpness and clarity dip out — this happened on the racetrack with cars flying at high speed. I’m sure there’s nothing you can do about that.
When it comes to the use of HDR, just like Top Gun, you’ll get a natural color palette start to finish. Something that stands out above the rest of the field is the eye-popping color of the various cars and the suits of the pit team — the neon green literally jumps right off the screen. It doesn’t end there either; you’ll also notice little things like deep browns hues at Harry’s farm or bright colored stickers and logo’s all over the truck transporting the team. Finally, you will see the boost with character close up’s which showcase great skin tones — the natural lighting in every scene makes this possible.
A perfect quick 20 seconds that showcase everything I’m taking about is in Chapter 9 when Cole Trickle is getting an MRI. You get an up-close shot of Tom Cruise under a green light in dark room — it’s a reference quality shot in both HDR and sharpness departments. Keep an eye out for it!
Like I mentioned at the start, there’s a solid amount of grain in this film, but grain has never bothered me — if anything, I think it really helps movies that were actually shot on film. It not only adds a nice texture to the new transfer, but it allows the black levels to breath giving off more depth and detail. Lastly, there’s a brand-new featurette on this release commemorating the 30th anniversary of the film looking back on the production with Jerry Bruckheimer. Unfortunately, this is the only new special feature, so take that as you may.
In conclusion —
This was the first time I had ever seen Days of Thunder and since I watched it right after Top Gun, I could really see and feel the flow the director (Tony Scott) was going for. This is a fun and worthy follow up to Top Gun and I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It’s not amazing if I’m putting my critic hat on, but it’s got some 80’s nostalgia mixed with 90’s fun. It’s Top Gun on a racetrack.
Taking everything I’ve said into account, Days of Thunder gets my recommendation for purchase – it’s almost a no-brainer at $19.99. Do yourself a favor, grab a copy at your local retailer when it releases on 4K UHD May 19th. If you are a fan of Tom Cruise then you will have to add this to your collection. Next up on the Tom Cruise marathon is War of the Worlds.
Are you a fan of this movie? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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