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Days of Thunder - Blu-ray DVD / action adventure DVD / drama DVD review
DAYS OF THUNDER Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 2 1/2 stars
Actors: Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, John C. Reilly
Director: Tony Scott Distributor: Paramount
DVD release: 30 December 2008 Runtime: 107 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish), Theatrical trailer (HD)

Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) approaches Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) about building a race car. Hogge, who lost a driver earlier at Daytona in a controversial crash, opted then to quit the business rather than withstand an investigation. He reluctantly agrees to build the car, but tells Daland that they'll need one hell of a driver. That driver is Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise).

Days of Thunder is a formula film - a formula followed in other Tom Cruise movies. Director Tony Scott and Cruise did the same basic format in Top Gun. Hot-headed guy with a ton of talent learns a new way to test that talent. Starts bad, gets good, then has a big setback. Overcomes the setback and triumphs just when it's needed most. I'm not saying it's a bad formula, but it makes for a predictable film.

There is some great kinetic footage shot here, and it's a great racing film, but it fails to have the same emotional impact as Top Gun. It may not be fair to compare the films, but the similarities are such that I can't help myself. With Top Gun we simply had more invested in the characters, particularly Goose and his wife (Mrs. Goose?). The Goose simulacrum in Days of Thunder is Rowdy (Michael Rooker), who is involved in the same accident that causes Trickle to lose his nerve. Rowdy's injuries may mean that he will never race again. Maybe this makes true NASCAR fans weep, but we just don't have that much invested in the character. Rooker is good in many other roles, but this one just doesn't move me. I expect more from writer Robert Towne (Chinatown). I suppose he has to keep the lights on, too.

What might have helped Days of Thunder is a good soundtrack. The score is fine, to be sure, but there just aren't any songs that stick out as much as those in Top Gun.

The move to Blu-ray is a natural for any old favorite film. This one looks fine, it sounds fine, but it could use a better set of special features to attract attention. We've got a trailer but no making-of, no retrospective interviews. Not strong enough to recommend.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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