- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

A machismo-fueled blockbuster topping $1 billion at the box office speeds onto the ultra high-definition format in The Fate of the Furious (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 136 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.98).

Bulked-up bad boys, dunderheaded plot lines, explosive beat downs and high-speed chases in expensive cars dominated the franchise. With this eighth film to the series (that’s right fans, eight), director F. Gary Gray apparently saw no need to change the formula.

The story of betrayal, family and redemption finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) loving life while hanging out with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in Cuba, until cyberterrorist extraordinaire Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up to ruin everything.

Forced to betray his team — including Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) — Toretto steals a weapon of mass destruction from his former pals.

They, with help from rogue assassin Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and government intelligence operatives Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), must now pursue him and his new boss to potentially prevent a world war.

The humor is at a corny premium, but the action is fast and furious.

Fans will savor moments such as a full-sized, swinging wrecking ball splintering cars apart like balsam wood through a chainsaw; the Rock’s Incredible Hulk impression during a prison fight; a swarm of computer-controlled vehicles attacking and falling from the sky on a Russian minister’s motorcade; and an insane game of hide-and-seek with a submarine and terrorists on a frozen lake.

4K UHD in action: Upscaled from a 2K master, the digital transfer starts off great with high-dynamic range enhancements to the panoramic locations in Havana, Cuba, offering no shortage of lush greens and colorful cityscapes.

The co-stars of the film, the sports and muscle cars, fare equally as well with such beauties as a bright-orange Lamborghini Murcielago, a dual-tone Bentley Continental, a 1956 Ford Fairlane, a 1966 red Corvette Stingray, striped Mercedes-AMG GT and a steel-reinforced 1968 Dodge Charger roaring from the screen in pristine quality.

Viewers will be able to finely feel the pain of inspecting near every dent, crack, scratch, patch of dirt and tire tread burn as each takes a beating during the action.

I feel sorry for the other co-stars of the film, the actors, as the ravages of time do begin to take a toll, acutely highlighted in ultra high-definition. Expect to witness plenty of wrinkled, blemished, blotched and freckled skin from principles such as Mr. Russell, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Van Diesel and Mr. Straham.

Notable extras: First, the 4K disc offers an optional commentary track with Mr. Gray who immediately spends time thanking all of his key crew members by name, a nice touch.

Unfortunately, despite offering some detail on the production (such as working with $30 million worth of cars), he spends too much time telegraphing and dissecting the paper-thin plot. However, his enthusiasm makes it more than a tolerable listening session.

Now, move over to the Blu-ray disc for all of the other extras that include a parade of promotional pabulum. Viewers can avoid 21-minutes worth of discussion on the film genesis and plot and instead focus on six featurettes roughly 40-minutes long in total.

The featurettes look at the fabulous vehicles (even a mini-tank nicknamed Ripsaw) used in the movie and the practical car stunt work employed in a trio of eye-popping racing scenes set on Havana’s Malecon byway, an Icelandic lake and the streets in New York City.

Also, Ms. Rodriguez, with words from the director and Mr. Diesel, presents an 8-minute-long travelogue of Cuba’s culture and cars. In the segment, Mr. Gray proudly notes that the “Fate of the Furious” was the first major studio films shot in the country since the U.S. embargo was lifted.

Additionally, teeth grinding as I type, Universal offers an extended director’s cut of the film (12 minutes longer), but there is one big caveat.

That version is only available via a code found in the package, meaning viewers must use a third-party digital streaming/storage service such as iTunes or Flixster as well as figure out how to get that service set up with their home entertainment center to watch the movie.

This a ridiculous inconvenience for the consumer who paid for the package and should have received an actual disc for the extended cut without any extra hassle required.

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