Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 24-Aug-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-You Will Believe: The Saga Of Superman
Featurette-The Science Of Superman
Featurette-The Mythology Of Superman
Featurette-The Heart Of A Hero: A Tribute To Christopher Reeve
Featurette-The Adventures Of Superpup
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 110:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kevin Burns
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Christopher Reeve
Brandon Routh
George Reeves
Margot Kidder
Kate Bosworth
Gene Hackman
Kevin Spacey
Bryan Singer
Case Gatefold
RPI $79.95 Music Todd Erickson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
German for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Spanish
Chinese
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, hilariously

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

Plot Synopsis

     Look Up In The Sky! The Amazing Story Of Superman is a retrospective on the origins, trials, tribulations, and history of the character we know as Superman. Like the film it is intended to promote (Superman Returns), there are love hearts for Superman clearly in the eyes of the makers. In contrast to most of the rest of the bonus material presented with this boxed set, this documentary seems to have been assembled in high definition. Narrated by Kevin Spacey, this documentary even talks about some of the other villains from Superman canon that have yet to be seen in feature films.

     Obviously, a hundred and ten minutes is a bit of an investment for a documentary that hovers perilously close to being just another fluff piece to promote a film. There is also a fair amount of material in the documentary that is repeated or sourced from other featurettes in this boxed set. Obviously, if one is a fan of Superman, then this documentary is well worth a look.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Being presented in 1920 by 1080, this featurette is obviously the best of the lot in terms of quality. All of the material in this featurette is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with footage from the films or television series reframed in various manners to fit that ratio.

     Obviously, with excerpts from films or television series of varying ages, the sharpness, shadow detail, and noise is a bit variable. Colour saturation is quite variable at times, too.

     Compression artefacts are not in this transfer. Aliasing is occasionally apparent in various archival materials, especially the older television series, but within acceptable limits relative to the sources. Film artefacts are also occasionally evident, but in acceptable amounts.

     Subtitles are provided in English. These are acceptably true to the spoken word, although still with more truncations than I would like.

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

Audio

     One soundtrack is provided with this featurette: the original English narration/interviews in Dolby Digital 2.0 that sounds like stereo.

     Fortunately, the material does not ask much of this soundtrack. Most of the time we are simply listening to people talk about various aspects of Superman as myth, canon, or story. Excerpts from films or television shows present occasional sound effects or music that show the limitations of Dolby Digital, but the narration has obviously been given priority, and any extra sound is tuned down in order to keep said narration audible.

     Music in this documentary is credited to one Todd Erickson. It does its job without being terribly remarkable.

     The surround channels and subwoofer have nothing to do in this soundtrack.

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

Extras

Menu

     Like the disc label, the menu has a pretty-stark looking image with a mere "Bonus Disc" title on it. Although it is pretty easy to navigate for the most part, it does smack of laziness.

Featurette - You Will Believe: The Saga Of Superman

     Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with film excerpts presented in a heavily windowboxed 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. This featurette is divided into five parts that can be accessed from a submenu, along with a Play All option. The Play All option gives a total running time of eighty-nine minutes and twenty-four seconds.

     A lot of these featurettes repeat almost exactly what is said in ones that appear on other discs. The parts that do not repeat other featurettes, however, make it well worth viewing. A prime example of this is an anecdote by Terence Stamp about how he, Jack O'Halloran, and Sarah Douglas remained more or less in character between shots.

Featurette - The Science Of Superman

     This 1.78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0 featurette spends fifty-one minutes and a second exploring the "rules" of the Superman universe and how compatible they are with the laws of science as we know them. Being that plausibility is one of my favourite storytelling challenges, I found this featurette fascinating. Your mileage may vary.

Featurette - The Mythology Of Superman

     Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this nineteen minute and thirty-four second featurette is about parallels between Superman and old mythological figures. I did not find this one quite so fascinating.

Featurette - The Heart Of A Hero: A Tribute To Christopher Reeve

     This featurette is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. For eighteen minutes, it goes into detail about Reeve's adventurous spirit and his work for the rights and causes of the disabled after his neck injury.

     Full disclosure here: I am one of the hundreds of souls who marched for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in a North Brisbane suburb months ago, so the focus on Reeve's life post-accident brings a lot of conflicting thoughts to mind, some of which are addressed in this featurette. Although he sadly never lived to see the day where paralysis can be cured, his impact on the way in which disability and the disabled are viewed by others is important. A great light went out in the world the day he died.

Featurette - The Adventures Of Superpup

     Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this twenty-one minute, thirty-four second piece is the rarely-seen pilot for a series in which the characters of Superman are animalised. As is mentioned in another featurette, this series never made it past the pilot stage. After watching this pilot, I do not wonder why.

R4 vs R1

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

    The two versions of this disc appear to be pretty much the same apart from language options.

Summary

     As the final disc in the Superman anthology, Look Up In The Sky! The Amazing Story Of Superman presents an extra helping of curiosities and laughs. One could do worse than to check out the content. From the way extras are scattered throughout this set, it would appear that this is really a collection of all the little pieces that they could not find space for on other discs, but what is included here is generally of very good quality. There is a little something for all types here, but the biggest selling point is the simple historical value.

     The video transfer is good, sometimes great, sometimes below average, but always watchable. The audio transfer, whilst serviceable, really does not offer a whole lot.

     The whole disc is pretty much an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD45, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-P50U20A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR606
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Wharfedale Xarus 1000 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, Wharfedale Diamond SW150 Subwoofer

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