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Old-Fashioned Serial Adventure--Now In Blu-Ray
on December 21, 2005
My husband's an airplane buff and I'm a retro fan, so there was much to please in this fun and exciting Disney entry about a 1930s racing pilot and his older mentor who find a stolen rocket pack hidden in their old airplane. Turns out our hero Cliff Secord is just the guy to fly the rocket pack (invented by airplane mogul Howard Hughes)--but when the thieves return to claim it, Cliff's beautiful girlfriend, aspiring actress Jenny Blake, is endangered. The 1930s look is captured perfectly, from the interior of a fancy nightclub to the homely hominess of the local pilots' hangout, a bulldog-shaped diner. Timothy Dalton, as the swashbuckling (and sinister) Neville Sinclair is a super villain. My personal favorite of all the characters is Peevy, Cliff's mentor, played with appropriate irascibility by Alan Arkin.
The original DVD release was quite dreadful, with artifacting and other visual problems, so this new Blu-Ray "Anniversary Edition" is a welcome addition. Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is the picture and sound are both beautiful. The blacks are black, the colors are vivid. I still detected what I thought were a few minor specs of "dirt," and there is a bit of graininess in certain scenes, such as the one where Jenny is dancing with Sinclair at the South Seas Club. The sound is deep and rich, showing off the theme music to wonderful advantage. It's quite beautiful. (And compared to the original DVD release, it's like choirs of angels singing!) The simple menus are a cute retro metallic based on the Rocketeer helmet.
The bad news is that this "Anniversary Edition" has not one extra except for the theatrical trailer. No commentary, no "Making Of," no nothing. Disney certainly has the "Making Of" special...I watched it! Again, they've gone cheap on something that doesn't fit the "new" Disney that consists of cheaply animated kids' series. Isn't one of the delights of Blu-Ray that you can place so much extra information on the disk? Incomprehensibly, there is even an "info" choice on the "bonus features" menu that has a disclaimer about commentary and extras!!!
Not to mention that the menu is persnickety as the dickens; I had to go back to the beginning of the DVD about three times to get out of submenus because I kept getting the message "This operation prohibited."
The only good thing about the paltry extras is that we don't have to suffer through the seeming hundreds of "commercials" Disney stuffs on its other disks. This pretty much goes directly to the main menu.
I love this film, so I gave it five stars. However, the "anniversary release" treatment gives Disney a big fat ONE star. Phooey.