The Air Up There (1994)

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Released 24-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 103:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul M. Glaser
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kevin Bacon
Charles Gitonga Maina
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music David Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Dutch
Norwegian
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
French Titling
Spanish Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Kevin Bacon is Jimmy Dolan, a former college basketball star who won an NCAA championship with his beloved St Joseph's college team in the early 1980s. But a busted knee ended Jimmy's playing days and he is now assistant coach of the team. The long-time and highly successful head coach of St Joe's has just announced his retirement so both Jimmy and the other current assistant believe they are each the right man to step into the breach and continue the team's success. Unfortunately for Jimmy, his smarmy attitude has just driven away the one recruit the team has been courting for several months, and things don't look good for him to take the mantle of head coach. But Jimmy's luck is about to improve. While watching a church video he spots a tall, athletic African player shooting hoops in Kenya. He immediately requests the chance to travel to Africa to scout out this tall athletic player - sight virtually unseen.

    The coach is reluctant, but finally agrees to let Jimmy travel to Kenya. This is of course where the bulk of the story occurs. Jimmy makes the long arduous trip to a small village called Winabi, deep in the highlands of Kenya. It is here that he comes face-to-face with Saleh (Charles Gitonga Maina), the object of his recruiting desire. Fortunately for Jimmy, Saleh can play the game very well, with a huge dunk and magnificent leaping ability. Unfortunately for Jimmy, Saleh is the son of the current tribal chief of Winabi and next in line to rule his people. A move to the United States seems completely out of the question. But Jimmy won't take no for an answer and proceeds to charm and influence his way with the Winabi people. When a rival tribe want to take the lands of the Winabi for a copper mine, the idea (as could only happen in Hollywood) to stage a basketball game with the winner taking claim to the land is set in motion. Jimmy of course agrees to help the Winabi team and act as coach and even play if need be. But to become part of the team Jimmy must first become part of the tribe...

    The Air Up There follows in a long line of formulaic sports films that follow so many of the tried and tested rules that you don't even need a sign post to know what is coming next. The brash American will be instantly despised by all the 'quaint' tribespeople for the way he obnoxiously tries to disrupt their lives. But after a few days they will all see he's not such a bad bloke and is really there to help them. The underdogs of course will always go into the big game with little chance of winning, but with God and the power of good over evil on their side...well you know the rest.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a pretty decent transfer in terms of sharpness except for the odd interior scene in Kenya where there is a soft haze and a little too much grain over the whole picture. The outside action in the lush Kenyan bush is clear and vivid. There isn't a trace of edge enhancement, and no low level noise.

    Colours are certainly the highlight of this transfer. The bright, vivid and highly saturated hues of the full rainbow are on offer around the Winabi village. Skin tones are spot on. Black levels are a little off at times in some of the darker interior shots, but outside and night time scenes are excellent.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts. Making a pleasant change is the lack of aliasing in any form. The usual brief smattering of film artefacts in the form of white and black spots and flecks appear throughout. These are not overly disruptive.

    There are several subtitle options present. I verified the presence of them all and extensively sampled the English flavour. No apparent problems were noticed and the subtitles were extremely accurate.

    This is a dual layered disc with the layer change occurring at 59:12. It was noticeable but not overly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio soundtracks on this disc. A remastered English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was my choice, but there are also French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks for those that need them.

    This is not a startling remastered track by any means, and in fact you'd almost say the original surround mix was simply converted to 5.1 without any remixing at all. There is some separation across the front channels, but the rears remained almost silent throughout. Dialogue is anchored front and centre but the left and right channels do carry some serious action, especially during the climatic basketball game.

    The soundtrack for this film is by David Newman and the theme suits the African setting. There are also some traditional African songs used throughout.

    There is surprisingly little surround channel use heard throughout and likewise the subwoofer only bobs up a couple of times.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Not really an extra but it's all we get.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Information on a Region 1 release is a little difficult to come by. From what I can make out, the Region 1 release has only just been released and is virtually identical to the Region 4 title.

Summary

    The Air Up There follows a pretty rigid set of standard Hollywood rules when it comes to a film featuring sports and the underdog given little chance of winning. It is mildly amusing at times, but the net result for me was that it fell a little flat and could have offered so very much more. Kevin Bacon is admirable in his role, but he really is a lone hand.

    The video is colourful and bright. There is a little excessive grain in places, but overall it is more than acceptable.

    The audio is provided by a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but don't be fooled into thinking it's a completely remastered track. Full use of six channels is seldom offered with most of the action anchored to the centre and left/right speakers only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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