Black Lightning is the latest offering from Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, the director behind 2008s Wanted as well as the home grown vampire franchise Night Watch and Day Watch. Phenomenally successful in his native Russia, Bekmambetov is known for his signature frenzied action style and stunning visuals without compromising on innovative storytelling. With Black Lightning, all these traits are apparent even though he takes a backseat in the role of producer while allowing Night Watch 2nd Unit Director and Editor Dmitriy Kiselev along with first time director Aleksandr Voytinskiy to take the reins. The Blu-ray transfer of Black Lightning is released today. Here's our review; The film begins as a group of scientists are in the process of developing a new nanofuel that will revolutionise how cars are operated. On placing the fuel inside a 1960s Volga, they discover the car can develop the ability to fly when powered by the new fuel. Several years pass and the car ends up in the hands of a down on his luck student Dima, played by Russian Topher Grace lookalike Grigoriy Dobrygin. After he finds himself indirectly responsible for the death of a family member he vows to fight crime in his supercharged flying car keeping his identity secret and using the moniker Black Lightning. His new found fame attracts unwanted attention from a scientist determined to develop the nanofuel for evil and in the process places himself, his friends and family in danger. The film is clearly influenced by recent comic book movies, in particular Spider-Man and Iron Man. The basic plot follows a similar thread to Sam Ramis take on Peter Parker, the young student accidentally has power bestowed upon him and following a tragic accident great power brings great responsibility. Like Peter Parker, Dimas best friend is a rich socialite dating the prettiest girl in school; Nastya played by Ekaterina Vilkova, also the girl Dima has admired from afar resulting in a love triangle between the three, the need to keep his new identity secret leading to complications in his private life. The similarities dont end there; the evil scientist Kuptsov, played by Viktor Verzhbitskiy from Night Watch and Day Watch is also someone Dima had previously looked up to as his college lecturer much like Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2. These comparisons aside, there is no denying that the film is a lot of fun with a really good mix of humour and action. It is a true family film and actually feels a little like the kind of innocent live action films Disney used to make in days gone by, a sort of Herbskiy Goes Bananas if you will. The car itself becomes a character in its own right without stealing the show from the actors. The Volga car brand in Russia is iconic and was traditionally deemed a symbol of higher status in Soviet society. The 1990s model of Volga is probably most recognised outside Russia as the maker of the car Jason Bourne trashes during the excellent car chase through the streets of Moscow in The Bourne Supremacy. Black Lightning leads to an Iron Man style climax with the main villain creating his own flying car modified to include an arsenal of weaponry using a Mercedes as the base the car which ends up looking a lot like the flying Delorean from the Back To The Future series. During this and all the flying sequences the special effects are very good, using a mix of CGI, model work as well as full scale live action. Any shortcomings are hidden behind the frenetically edited action scenes. Although the film is not particularly original and is essentially made up of recycled ideas from various Hollywood blockbusters it is still highly enjoyable and hopefully, thanks to the involvement of Bekmambetov, it will be embraced by the wider audience it deserves following this Blu-ray release.
This Blu-ray disc features an excellent crisp, clear print of the film in its original widescreen ratio of 2.35:1. The DTS HD 5.1 sound mix is particularly good making full use of the surround speakers. The audio options include the original Russian soundtrack as well as an awful English dubbed track, I would suggest you steer well clear of this version. The subtitles are available in 16 different languages and are presented clearly throughout the film. However the English subtitle option seems to feature occasional subtitles for the hard of hearing, for example Loud Bang, Music Playing, which is a little annoying at times.
Deleted Scenes Making of Documentary The 8 minutes of deleted and extended scenes could all have easily made the final cut of the film. They add a few additional character details as well as continuing a running joke throughout the film featuring a reformed drunk. The making of documentary runs for 25 minutes and is fairly standard. Interviews with an enthusiastic cast and crew as well as behind the scenes footage. This also includes some interesting footage of how the action scenes were put together and where some of the car stunts did not go according to plan. Black Lightning is available on Blu-ray and DVD from today.