Better Than Pinto v Yaris

Ford v Ferrari requires a careful balance. Taking place in the mid ‘60s, it’s expected that audiences care about egotistical corporate car manufacturers during a period of racial division, Vietnam, and other cultural clashes.

The script then, smartly, turns Henry Ford II into a comical blowhard. His underlings are worse still. For them, it’s about marketing and presentation. The car’s guts don’t matter. To driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), the engine is everything.

That’s the set up: Division, but rather than racial injustice or war, it’s blue collar versus white collar. Ford v Ferrari encapsulates the ‘60s in its feud, whittling down a tumultuous decade to a single driver and car designer in Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon).

More than suits v overalls, Ford v Ferrari pits privilege v manual labor

During a marketing campaign meeting, the Ford execs come up with a plan to grab baby boomers – a generation with disposable income thanks to the post-war surplus. They want faster, sexier cars than their parents – hot rod culture, all grown up. Their hero isn’t Henry Ford II, rather it’s Miles, with his oil-stained face, picking at the guts to balance a perfect vehicle. With Bale, Ford v Ferrari finds a hero through his passion.

More than suits v overalls, Ford v Ferrari pits privilege v manual labor. During the climactic Le Mans race, Miles spends four hours locked in a car of his own design, stepping out for a quick ham & cheese sandwich. Henry Ford takes off in a private helicopter to a pricey dinner. The dichotomy is brutal, unflinching, and pure.

In its own way, Ford v Ferrari belittles corporate culture. Shelby sits in on a meeting noting some 25 people looked over a folder before it reached Ford’s desk. The identity, the individualism comes through filtered; that, to Shelby, is why Ford kept losing. That little guy – Miles – is too far down the ladder to make a difference, and yet that’s where the genius is.

To a fault, the script and James Mangold’s direction create a typical Hollywood biopic. The humor is calculated, the drama lean (even a tragic finish), and the characters routine. In sports movie fashion, Caitriona Balfe cannot escape the stay-at-home wife archetype; she detests the long hours and deception. She is given a moment to break from cliché, but then falls back into place, listening to the race on the radio with her son. Ford v Ferrari isn’t one to break from mainstream tradition, if capable enough to build these characters as working class heroes against the system.

Video

Although shot digitally, a grain filter hovers over the image. With a somewhat meager 55GB disc, that’s not much for a 150+ minute film. That shows. Post-production grain causes chroma artifacts and even noise, detracting from an otherwise clean image. This becomes especially prominent against skylines, the worst being as Miles brings his son onto the track at dusk to discuss strategy.

In every other category, Ford v Ferrari looks wonderful. Being set in the ‘60s gives the color a certain warm sheen. Primaries dazzle, giving cars pop and scenery eye-catching saturation. Flesh tones naturally firm up, slightly warm, if pure.

Then comes the HDR, strong as to give nighttime, track side lights a definite sparkle. Sun reflects from chrome or metal heartily. Black levels work against challenging conditions, including a nighttime race in rain where the intent is to show limited visibility. The fall to pure black is definitive, creating depth where lesser presentations likely fail.

While finished at 2K, detail stands out, and consistently. Facial definition appears regularly. Exteriors make use of UHD’s added resolution. Sharpness impresses, battling grain, if winning out to deliver firmness throughout.

Audio

While range lacks in the fiercest low-end, engines still aggressively attach to the subwoofer. A few explosions induce satisfying rumble, enough to feel the jolt.

The winning element becomes positional use. A Le Mans crowd fills the soundstage during the opening credits, a smidgen of what’s to come. Race scenes pan cars around as they pass, utilizing the full width and depth afforded to the soundstage. An incredible moment happens as Shelby takes over a plane, flying overhead and then behind; it’s a flawless effect. Stereos and surrounds never stop, active in garages that create fantastic ambiance, or even street level in residential areas. Ford v Ferrari is nothing less than a wall of sound for the full runtime.

Extras

Nothing on the UHD. Pop in the Blu-ray for an excellent eight part documentary titled Bringing the Rivalry to Life. This runs seconds short of an hour, involved with the film’s production as much as the real people behind the story. It’s an excellent accompaniment to the main feature.

Ford v Ferrari
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

During the ’60s social upheaval, Ford v Ferrari hones in on corporate war and the working class men looking to settle it out of pride.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 48 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: