NBA-Michael Jordan: His Airness (1999)
Featurette-Michael's Greatest Dunks
Featurette-Michael's Greatest Moves
Featurette-Michael's Greatest Clutch Shots
Featurette-Michael's Greatest Assists
Featurette-Great Michael Memories
Featurette-Slam Dunk Contest Highlights
Featurette-Michael's Great Eight
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||54:42 (Case: 57)|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||None Given|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Varies||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For basketball fans such as myself who went through high school and university during the 1990s, Michael Jordan was a sporting hero unlike any before him, and probably unlike any other for many years to come. Not much more can be written about Michael Jordan that has not been written in various biographies or captured in beautiful slow motion video footage. This documentary is more a consolidation of the footage from the previous documentaries Come Fly With Me, Michael Jordan's Playground, Air Time, and Above & Beyond, but it does have enough new footage and interviews to keep things interesting.
Most Michael Jordan fans will be well familiar with the footage here, with all the classic highlights included such as the "Oh - a spectacular move by Michael Jordan"-midair-hand-swap against the Lakers, the emphatic baseline dunk over Patrick Ewing, the hanging buzzer beater to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers, and of course the foul line dunk. Add to this a swell of other familiar and new highlights, and it all makes for the best documentary around on Michael Jordan.
My favourite part of the documentary is the section towards the end that shows his final season (dubbed "The Last Dance") with the Chicago Bulls, and their charge towards their 6th NBA championship in the 1990s. The spectacular ending, with Jordan making the final play, is the stuff legends are made of. What more could anyone ask for - a closely contested match, 20 seconds left - Bulls down by 1, Jordan makes the steal and dribbles the ball down court, drives right and crossover - opponent falls over, he shoots and perfect follow through hangs in the air, and nothing but net as the ball falls through to give the Bulls their second three-peat. The ultimate fairytale ending to the ultimate competitor.
This documentary is quite a long time coming to Region 4, and was released in the US some time ago. As a stand-alone DVD release, I feel that more could have been done. As I describe below, the Region 1 Ultimate Jordan 2-disc set is a much more comprehensive and dedicated tribute to the career of Michael Jordan. But for Australian fans who are perhaps not as fanatical as US fans (or myself), this release is a worthy addition to any sports fan's collection.
The video quality ranges from average to poor, with quality directly related to the age of the source footage, and really is a mixed bag. Early on-court television footage from the mid-eighties is quite soft and very grainy, with colour definition really lacking. Colours sometimes appear rather muted and unnatural, while at other times colours are over-saturated with some cross colouration and colour bleed definitely present. Aliasing does in fact appear intermittently throughout, but is of no real annoyance. Edge enhancement is noticeable too in some cases, and can be distracting.
The newer footage from the 1990s is of a much better quality, most definitely due to the increase in marketing funds and television technology. With Michael Jordan and the NBA raking in the big bucks, presenting these highlights on VHS to the mass of eager sports fans was an economic money spinner. As I mentioned previously, much of the footage is taken from previous videos released about Michael's career, and the quality here is certainly better than that of my now well-worn VHS copies. I especially like the use of film in capturing the on-court action, with the obvious stand-out the reverse angle baseline dunk over Patrick Ewing. The slow motion, grainy, film-like presentation is quite artistic.
Sharpness is improved overall from the previous VHS releases of Jordan videos, with the interviews and late 1990s footage being on par with good television broadcasts of today. Colours are much more natural and vibrant without being oversaturated. A pet hate of mine when watching many sports documentaries are the comet trails that are left on screen as the camera pans with lights in the background. As many shots are of Jordan flying through the air from a low angled camera, the comet trail effect is evident throughout the transfer. I would like to think that there is something that can be done to remove this, but I am not aware of any such technology.
So in short, the quality is adequate in presenting all the well known highlights, and it is nice to know that the quality will not decrease with multiple viewings, unlike my old VHS copies.
Right from the very beginning with the voiceover, the audio sounds distorted and muffled. There is a distinct crackling sound that accompanies any other sound emanating from the speakers. I at first thought that there may be a problem with my hardware, so I inserted my Region 1 copy, which did not exhibit any distortion at all. I am not sure why the Region 4 audio is distorted, but it is a definite shame.
Most of the audio is taken from game time commentaries, and so those from Jordan's early career suffer even more due to their age. The audio from new footage is better, but is still distorted. Thankfully audio synchronisation is not a problem.
There is no subwoofer action or surround activity, which did not surprise me.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras here are quite interesting and form a nice consolidation of Jordan's best highlights.
Michael's Greatest Dunks - An NBA Action style Top 10 of Jordan's best hang-time moves. Obvious entries include the dunk over Ewing and a tip in dunk from a missed free throw.
Michaels' Greatest Moves - A Top 10 of Jordan's best circus shots. Obvious entries include the hand swap move against the Lakers and the unbelievable reverse lay-up around 3 New Jersey players.
Michael's Greatest Clutch Shots - A Top 10 of Jordan's best last second buckets and match winners. Obvious entries include the two buzzer beaters against Cleveland, and his final shot against the Utah Jazz to win the sixth championship.
Michael's Greatest Assists - A Top 10 of Jordan's best no-look and around-the-back passes. It's not always that you think of Jordan and passing, but these highlights do show that he could pass with the best of them.
Great Michael Memories - A short featurette showing past legends, such as Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas, and present stars, such as Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, discussing their favourite Michael Jordan memories.
Slam Dunk Contest Highlights - Around 5 minutes of slam dunk contest highlights showing Michael going up against the other high-flyers such as Dominique Wilkins. Includes all the famous footage of his various foul line dunks and the sideways "Look at the air, look at the hang time, look at the flying motion!" dunk.
Michael's Great Eight - A group of eight short featurettes deconstructing specific highlights or milestones in Jordan's career.
69 Points - shows his record game against the Cleveland Cavaliers where he went on a tear and burned the Cavs for 69 points.
The Arrival - shows his now-legendary performance against the Boston Celtics where he scored 63 points after coming back from injury. I still can't believe that they lost that game.
3 Is The Magic Number - shows his 3 point barrage in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals against Portland, and the famous shrug and head shake.
Michael's Last Dance - shows footage of Game 6 against Utah in 1998 where he made the final amazing play to steal the ball, and make the game winning shot to win the championship for the 6th time in 8 years.
The Return - shows his comeback game from his first retirement in 1995 against his arch rival the New York Knicks. No better way to show that he was back by scoring 55 points and making the final assist to take the lead.
The Flu Game - shows the outstanding courage and determination he displayed during Game 5 against Utah in 1997. Playing with a virus, he single-handedly won the game for the Bulls while his team-mates struggled around him.
The Showdown - shows Game 4 of the 1993 Finals against the Phoenix Suns, where Jordan decided to take it to the Suns after a triple overtime loss the previous game. If the 3 point barrage against Portland showcased his long range ability, this game showed how he could drive and penetrate to the basket like no other player.
The Shot - shows the legendary buzzer beater in 1989 against Cleveland. Not much more to say really.
I also recently found out that they have released an Ultimate Jordan 20th Anniversary Edition 3 disc set that is essentially equivalent to the 2 disc set but contains an extra disc with Jordan's five all-time greatest games in their entirety. Considering that most of those games are in the Chicago Bulls - The 1990s Region 1 DVD collection that I also own, this is probably only a good buy if you have neither the original 2 disc set nor the Chicago Bulls DVD.
Michael Jordan His Airness is also available in a stand-alone release in Region 1, out since 1999. With the other multiple disc sets available, I wouldn't bother with this release which is identical to the Region 4 version.
If you are a Michael Jordan fan such as myself, then the Region 1 Ultimate Jordan 2 disc or 3 disc sets are the only way to go.
Michael Jordan His Airness may seem like a gimmicky nickname that only Americans could dream up. But perhaps because I'm such a fan, I don't seem to mind. The documentary is a great collection of his best highlights, and is a fitting tribute to arguably the greatest athlete of the last 20 years. The DVD release is a little disappointing compared to the Region 1 packages, but for those fans accustomed to watching Jordan on old VHS copies, this is still a worth a look. However, if you're a real fan, definitely get your hands on the Region 1 sets.
The video quality is adequate.
The audio is disappointing, exhibiting distortion not present on the Region 1 release.
The extras are interesting and well presented.
|DVD||Onkyo DV-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||RK-32HDP81 HDTV. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD/DD-EX/DTS/DTS-ES matrix and discrete. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).|
|Speakers||fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie|