FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR  [Blu-ray] [UK Release] ‘Flight of the Navigator’ Is The Action-packed Classic 80s Adventure Into Another World!
It's 1978 and 12-year old David Freeman [Joey Cramer] is knocked unconscious while playing. He wakes up and discovers it's now 1986 and he's been missing for eight years. NASA believes he's been abducted by aliens and want to use him for their research. But with the guidance of a strange unseen entity he discovers a hidden spaceship and with the help of MAX the computer sets off on an incredible mission to get back to the past where he belongs.
Cast: Joey Cramer, Albie Whitaker, Paul Reubens (Max voice), Cliff De Young, Veronica Cartwright, Albie Whitaker, Matt Adler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Howard Hesseman, Robert Small, Jonathan Sanger, Iris Acker, Richard Liberty, Raymond Forchion, Cynthia Caquelin, Ted Bartsch, Tony Tracy, Philip Hoelcher, Rusty Pouch, Peter Lindquist and Jill Beach
Director: Randal Kleiser
Producers: Dimitri Villard, Robert Wald, John W. Hyde and Jonathan Sanger
Screenplay: Mark H. Baker (story), Matt MacManus and Michael Burton
Composer: Alan Silvestri
Cinematography: James Glennon
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 90 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Second Sight Films [Walt Disney Studios]
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: The astonishing success of Steven Spielberg's E.T. in 1982 heralded the money-making power of the friendly alien, so naturally every film mogul wanted a piece of the pie. Independent producers PSO, known for more adult oriented fare, had some success with fantasy film ‘The Neverending Story’ so they pushed ahead with two cutesy sci-fi projects, one about a robot and the other about an alien. The former became ‘Short Circuit’ and the latter became ‘Flight of the Navigator.’ Unfortunately PSO encountered severe money troubles and the company was declared bankrupt before ‘Flight of the Navigator’ was released, which is when Disney stepped in to pick up the pieces and distribute the film.
‘Flight of the Navigator’ opens with a Frisbee Dog Contest on the Fourth of July, 1978. An ordinary 12-year-old boy named David Freeman [Joey Cramer] is there with his family. He's got a mother, a father, a pesky younger brother, and an unspectacular dog named Bruiser. That night, David goes to find his brother for the holiday celebrations. Wandering in the woods, he falls quite a distance into a ravine. When he gets up, it appears to be just a moment later. But, as he learns, it is actually eight years later. David hasn't changed in any way, but the rest of the world has.
Now it's 1986. An old couple now lives in his house, his younger brother is now his older brother, and "Starsky and Hutch" is off the air! David has no knowledge of where he's been. It's a mystery that fascinated specialists are trying to unravel.
Enter Dr. Faraday [Howard Hesseman], who makes it clear to David and his family that the top-of-the-line resources of NASA are the best shot at figuring out what has happened. So, David agrees to spend 48 hours at a NASA base, letting the best men in the field pry his mind in a search for answers. Simultaneously, Dr. Faraday and the other NASA specialists are mulling over the discovery of an unusual body which appears to be a spaceship. To reach a sufficient understanding, they decide that David will need to stay longer for tests.
With the help of Carolyn McAdams [Sarah Jessica Parker], a friendly young intern at the base, David seeks to escape. His breakout quickly takes him to the spaceship, where he begins to make sense of the some of the strange dreams and voices he has been experiencing. The ship is commanded by a robot of higher intelligence [voiced by Paul Reubens], who David names Max. Max needs help from David, specifically his mind. David wants answers from Max and a departure from the curious scientists. They take off on a unique and thrilling journey through space and time.
‘Flight of the Navigator’ is totally brilliant. All of its elements seem to work just right. It's extremely clever premise is played to perfection, thanks to skilful crafting. The film starts out strong with a highly intriguing set-up, and sets a fast and flawless pace that it never departs from. In the lead role, Joey Cramer has just the right amount of curiosity and charisma to make the protagonist fully likable. Supporting performances from the family members all seem to hit the right notes. The robotic character, Max, is a lot of fun. Once he acquires some personality from a mind-mining procedure, he begins to sound quite a bit like Pee Wee Herman, in the best possible way. Though its script and direction deserve highest praise, a great sense of humour helps to distinguish ‘Flight of the Navigator’ from other strong science fiction films of the late '70s and early '80s. While its time-travel tale is a serious one, it deftly uses comedy to enhance the adventure and crank up the entertainment value. In many of the best ways, the film calls to mind the perfect blend of Back to the Future, without feeling the least bit derivative.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘Flight of the Navigator’ is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with a nice 1080p encoded image. The opening scenes of the film looked very grainy, but you needn't fear. This only reveals the technical shortcomings of optical credits sequences. There were a few brief scenes, either effects or exterior shots that exhibited an excess of grain. By and large, though, the video quality was overwhelmingly pleasing. Colours are vibrant and solid; flesh tones seemed extremely natural. Though not as sharp as a film from today, the picture was consistently clean and crisp. Without a doubt, this transfer offers significant improvement over any other home video release the film has received. Still, it's a revelation compared to the disastrous inferior UK DVD which literally used a cropped VHS copy as its source.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Flight's 2.0 Dolby Surround audio presentation was also most satisfactory. The film features a prominent and powerful score by Alan Silvestri (‘Back to the Future’), which often comes in a bit louder than the rest of the audio, and effectively hits and underlines the film's adventure and suspense. Though the film's score was the most significant surround element, a number of the film's sound effects made use of the rear channels, as well. Dialogue was crisp and always intelligible. Aside from the inconsistent volume level (as usual, a desired effect), I didn't notice anything about the audio which detracted from the experience. A solid presentation, particularly for Dolby Surround, and Alan Silvestri's memorable score is put to good use.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary with Director Randal Kleiser and Execitive Producer Jonathan Sanger: The solitary extra feature is an audio commentary featuring Randal Kleiser and Executive Producer Jonathan Sanger. The two have an obvious kinship and their chat features some interesting insights, although there's a fair amount of dead air so one sitting should be enough to take it all in.
Finally, 'Flight of the Navigator' is one of those rare nostalgic treats that's just as much fun as I remember it to be, and this Blu-ray presentation is sure to take you right back to 1986 and is a fantastic film that is well worth discovering, if you haven't already. The picture and sound have not been given an overhaul, yet the experience is purer for it. Extra features are limited to a decent commentary, but given the film's money troubles and mixed parentage, I couldn't have hoped for much more. While the complete lack of bonus features may not be what they had in mind, the presentation of the film itself deserves acclaim. Clever, suspenseful, and at times very funny, ‘Flight of the Navigator’ simply offers as much fun as any movie I've seen in a long time. This film is one of Disney's best, one that widely departs from the studio's formulas or any conventions at all and manages to entertain without fail for an hour and a half and that is why it has gone pride of place in my extensive Walt Disney Blu-ray Collection, as it is one of my all-time favourite film ever since I originally owned it on the poor substitute inferior DVD. Highly Recommend!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom