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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Flight of the Navigator


Starring: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens (voice), Veronica Cartwright, Cliff DeYoung, Sarah Jessica Parker and Howard Hesseman
Second Sight
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: U
Available 19 November 2012

In 1978 David Freeman is a normal twelve year old who lives with his parents and fights with his younger brother, that is until one day he becomes unconscious following an accident. When he finally wakes up he discovers that it is 1986 and although he does not appear to have aged, eight years have passed. Reunited with his family David finally discovers that he has been sampled by an alien ship, which had taken him away from Earth faster than the speed of light and now, having been damaged, needs the information in David’s head to get home. But will the information allow David to return to 1978 and the life he left behind...?

Flight of the Navigator (1986 - 1 hr, 29 min, 33 sec) is a science fiction film from Disney, which is a way of saying it’s not that great and is mostly for kids. The film was directed by Randal Kleiser from a script by Michael Burton and Matt MacManus.

If you had to sum the film up in one word, it would be "cute". The ship is cute, the bad guys are not really bad at all and David spends his time moping around wondering how to get back to his own time without taking five minutes to learn anything about the intervening years. That is not to say that Joey Cramer (Runaway [1984], The Clan of the Cave Bear [1986]) is bad in the role, but then the role requires little from him apart from looking homesick and missing his family.

The major action takes place because of the central idea that the ship, Max, voiced by Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens (Mystery Men [1999]) is damaged and its maps are now stored in David’s brain. Its capture and David’s re-emergence bring the two back together at a NSA research station headed by Dr. Faraday (Howard Hesseman), there David also meets a young intern, Carolyn McAdams (Sarah Jessica Parker). Following his escape, he reunites with Max for a bit of a fly around whilst being chased, before deciding to head home.

If the script is hokey then the special effects are pretty impressive for the time, the external chrome effect on Max is particularly impressive, given the age of the film, leaving the movie more of a visual feast than a meal of any substance.

Now, some films benefit greatly from their conversion to Blu-ray, sad to say Flight of the Navigator does not appear to be one of them. The picture does not look to have been restored as it is generally grainy with the occasional print damage evident. The grain is not so bad on complex pictures, but every time the sky is shown it looks like a storm is coming. The overall effect goes some way to spoiling the film's enjoyment. Now I was sent a screener, which is not the finished product, it may be better, but in that case why send out inferior screeners. The audio on the screener was 2.0 LPCM.

The extras are also a disappointment for a Blu-ray, although you do get a full length commentary with director Randal Kleiser and producer Jonathan Sanger, which examines the genesis of the film as well as its creation and cult popularity.

It’s a real shame that the picture is of such poor quality, as it isn’t a bad family movie.


Charles Packer

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