November 18, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Flight of the Navigator'

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Review by Jude Felton

Alongside Short Circuit, Second Sight Films have dusted off another kids movie from the same year (1986) and given it a shiny new release on Blu-ray, as well as DVD. Flight of the Navigator wasn’t a huge success upon its initial release, although it was quite well received and it has remained a fun family flick ever since.

As with Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator just oozes the 1980s kid flick mentality; long story short, kid goes up against the ‘man’ and finds a friend in an alien object. The actual story is a little more in depth, but does have all the familiar trappings of its era. Back in 1978 young David Freeman wanders into the woods looking for his brother, and before he knows what has happened he has fallen into a ravine and everything goes blank.

He awakens in the hospital, not having any idea what has happened to him. His family and doctors are baffled though, as it is now 8 years later and David has not aged one bit; he is still exactly the same age as when he fell. Of course, the doctors want to get to the bottom of what has happened to him. Could it be something to do with the alien craft that has recently been discovered? What do you think?

Much against his wishes, David agrees reluctantly to spend 48 hours with the doctors and scientists, so that they might unravel the mystery of David’s lack of aging. It soon becomes quite clear that the boy has a wealth of knowledge stored away in his head, much of which is alien to this planet. Eventually though, all of this becomes too much for David, and with the help of a very young Sarah Jessica Parker, he makes his escape. This is when the fun really begins, as David discovers the spaceship hidden away in a hanger, and does what any other kid would do in his situation; he takes it for a ride, and hopes he can answer some of the many questions he has.

Flight of the Navigator is such a fun film, it’s riddled with clichés and stock characters, but it is made with so much conviction that it is hard not to get swept up in the entertainment of it all. What maybe is surprising is how well the special effects have held up over the past 25 plus years. I mean they do look a little dated, of course, but they were surprisingly ahead of their time in places. Watching the spacecraft morph, long before James Cameron was doing it, is still impressive to watch.

Flight of the Navigator was directed by Randal Kleiser, who also directed such movies as Grease, The Blue Lagoon and Big Top Pee Wee, the latter of which starred Paul Reubens, who also happens to voice the character of Max in this film. Max is actually the comedic center of Flight of the Navigator, he is the space craft’s robot pilot, for want of a better description, and some of his lines are real gems.

All in all Flight of the Navigator has seriously aged in some regards, but remains fresh and enjoyable in other areas. Kids will still get a kick out of it, and I am sure many adults will too.
This Blu-ray release from Second Sight Films doesn’t have the extras that some of their other releases have been blessed with, but it does come with an audio commentary for you to enjoy. 

They have also delivered a fine looking film too. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it does look nice. Some scenes did seem a little stuck in the 80s, but for the majority of the film the colors were bright and the definition was surprisingly sharp. All in all a good, if not spectacular release, one that is still definitely worth checking out.

Flight of the Navigator is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Second Sight Films on November 19th.

(The stills used in this review are not necessarily from the Blu-ray release, they are used purely to illustrate the review.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, the first (and I think only) time that I saw this movie was at a Drive-in theater with my father. I was 7 years old and up waaaay past my bedtime, and I think I nodded off sometime in the middle. More important than the movie itself was the experience of watching it with my dad, though, which I had genuinely forgotten about until reading your write-up. So thanks for that! Definitely going to give this one another watch.