Flight of the Navigator DVD Review

The years following the release of the classic Steven Spielberg movie E.T. brought on a flurry of cheap rip-offs, each one trying to cash in on the movie's popularity. One of those was the 1986 Disney film Flight of Navigator, directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease). This time travel family film brought in a meager $18 million at the box office. It deserved a lot more. 12-year old David Freeman (Joey Cramer) is all set for a great 1978 Fourth of July celebration when he falls down a ditch deep in a forest looking for his brother. When he wakes up, he's 8 years in the future and hasn't aged a day. He's lost, confused, and scared as his parents have not only moved, but of course aged. The authorities get a hold of NASA who soon take David to study him. At the same time, they find a flying saucer that seems to have a connection with the child. With the help of an intern (a young Sarah Jessica Parker), he escapes for a wild ride on the ship with the help of Max (Paul Reubens), a computerized robot eye. I'm not sure what to say about this movie. Anyone who seen it as a child loved it during the theatrical run back in 1986 and anyone who sees it today will have fun. This is a perfect family film with some great special effects, strong acting, and it's a wild ride throughout. The time travel aspects can be confusing to a child (I had no clue what was going on when I was younger), but they'll still have fun thanks to the spaceship, cute creatures, great music, and wisecracking robot. After you've shown the young ones E.T. for the first time, sit them down with this one next. (**** out of *****) Flight of the Navigator is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. I'm unsure if this is the proper aspect ratio as I've read from various sources that it was filmed as wide as 2.35:1 and some people even say it was cropped for theaters (highly unlikely). Regardless, this is the best the movie has ever looked, suffering from only excessive grain in some scenes (especially early on). Colors are perfect without any bleeding and black levels are solid. It's not reference material, but considering the age of the film, this is superb. (****) Listening to the film is quite a treat even though it's only presented in 2.0 Dolby Surround. The sound field is quite active, especially the soundtrack. Check out the music around the 47-minute mark for a nice showcase. Some of the sound effects make their way into the rears as well. The lack of any real bass is a disappointment, but this a great 2.0 mix and probably one of the better uses of the format I've heard. (***) Sadly, this disc is completely void of extras. The disc starts up with some full-screen previews for other Disney features, but that's it. Chapter stops are minimal. There isn't even a trailer for the feature. (*) If you have kids under the age of 10 in your house, this movie is an absolute must have. Actually, you should probably have it anyway. Completely underrated and almost forgotten, this movie has stood the test of time. Disney has done a great job with the presentation of the movie as well. It's a shame that it's devoid of features though.

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