Flight of the Phoenix appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though this release hit shelves early in the formatís existence, it held up better than most.
Not that this meant I didnít find some concerns, particularly related to sharpness. Much of the movie offered nice clarity and accuracy, but wider shots tended to lean softer than Iíd expect. Though these didnít look truly fuzzy, they lacked detail.
No issues with jagged edges or moirť effects materialized, and only light edge haloes appeared occasionally. Digital noise reduction created a few minor issues, but no signs of print flaws appeared.
I wouldnít expect a movie set in the desert to feature a varied palette, and Phoenix indeed stayed with restrained tones. Sandy and orange hues dominated, as only sporadic examples of other colors popped up in the flick. The hues appeared well-developed and concise for what they were.
In addition, blacks looked deep and firm, but low-light shots caused mild problems, some of which occurred due to surprisingly dense day-for-night scenes. These consistently appeared too dark and never worked realistically.
Other shadows also lacked the definition Iíd expect. Enough about the transfer succeeded to earn this one a ďB-Ē, but it had room for improvement.
For the filmís DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, the soundfield was broad and involving. This occurred all throughout the film, though the louder sequences came across the best.
Unsurprisingly, the early sandstorm/crash scene impressed. It spread the storm actively all around the spectrum, and the various aspects of the planeís problems also zoomed about us. Quieter moments worked well too, as the track brought out the nuances of the desert in a vivid manner.
The high quality of the soundfield spread to the music as well. Phoenix used a fair amount of non-score elements like the Johnny Cash song that opened the movie.
These displayed better than usual stereo separation and delineation, and they really impressed me. Across the board, the DTS-HD track displayed good localization of material and blended them all together impressively.
In addition, the quality of the audio was top-notch. Speech always came across as natural and distinctive. No issues with intelligibility or edginess manifested themselves.
The music was vibrant and dynamic. Even with the variety of sources, the songs sounded vivid, and the score also demonstrated great clarity and definition.
Effects were lively and true. No distortion marred them, and they sounded clean and smooth. Bass response knocked one out of the part with deep, concise tones that nicely accentuated the action.
I was a little reluctant to give this one an ďAĒ because it lacked the rock-em, sock-em ambition I usually require to give a soundtrack that high a mark. However, it sounded so good and often worked all the speakers so well that I thought it deserved that grade.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The Blu-rayís lossless audio offered more punch and clarity than the DVDís lossy affair, and visuals felt more vivid and tighter. While the disc shows its age in terms of picture, it still improved upon the DVD.
Some of the DVDís extras repeat here, and we find an audio commentary from director John Moore, producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey, and production designer Patrick Lumb, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. At the start, the commentary seems a bit dry, but it picks up pace as it goes and turns into a strong chat.
Among the topics covered, we hear primarily about shooting in Namibia. The participants discuss all of the challenges that came with the location as well as the benefits.
In addition, the commentary includes notes about casting and working with the actors, stunts and visual effects, editing and pacing, music and other auditory issues, and various story and character notes.
The second half of the commentary tops the first, though the whole thing works well. Technical subjects dominate the early going, so only as the movie progresses do the subjects loosen up and present a broader examination of the film. Ultimately, this ends up as a very entertaining and informative commentary.
New to the Blu-ray, we find a Trivia Track. It mainly offers info about the production. Some decent material appears, but this becomes a less than engaging subtitle commentary for the most part.
Under trailers, we locate ads for Flight, Omen 666, The Transporter, X-Men: The Last Stand and From Hell.
Note that the Blu-ray drops deleted/extended scenes as well as a documentary. This disappoints but matches most early Fox Blu-rays, as they regularly shed most of their respective DVDsí extras.
Flight of the Phoenix offers a spotty but generally entertaining action flick. Well, it succeeds when it concentrates on the action, as its character moments fail to add up to much of anything. Nonetheless, thereís enough here to make it moderately enjoyable. The Blu-ray boasts excellent audio and a few bonus features but visuals seem lackluster. Like most early release Blu-rays, this one could use an update.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX