Flying High II: The Sequel (Airplane II: The Sequel) (1982)
|Year Of Production||1982|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Ken Finkleman|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, final tag|
The ZAZ trio wisely resisted much temptation — and no doubt much financial inducement from Paramount — to work on a sequel to their brainchild. As they explain at the end of the directors' commentary to the original, they really had squeezed in just about every airport joke possible into the first movie and really couldn't think of any more to use for a sequel. In any event they were wise enough to want to move on and do something new (Top Secret!, bring it on guys!) and not sacrifice creative challenge for the easy-option, less risky quick dollar. Thank goodness they did this.
This very lazy sequel really does stand out for not having the creative ZAZ talent behind it.. It was written and directed by Ken Finkleman. "Who?", I hear you ask. Well, yes, I had the same reaction. On doing some research, I found out that Mr Finkleman rose to fame as a writer on the Dick Van Dyke show in the mid 70s, before getting his break to write and direct Airplane II in 1982, as well as writing Grease 2 (ahem!) in the same year. Clearly, neither project warranted much time. Since then, he has gone on to do nothing at all noteworthy.
The only new ground that this sequel does break is the change of the setting. It would certainly have been daft to go and do another airplane movie, so this time around the story has been set on a space shuttle trip to the moon, which is a good move as it immediately widens the sphere of parody now to space/sci-fi movies, thus at least giving somewhere for the jokes to go. It also very much reflects the times of the early 80s, when NASA's space shuttle was a relatively new and exciting concept and everyone was obsessed with the rise of computers and the "Space Invaders" video game mentality.
Despite the fact that the original writer/directors didn't want a bar of it, Paramount successfully persuaded the original producer and practically the entire original cast to return for the follow-up. The only one who had more sense to know it wouldn't and couldn't be a success without its creators was Leslie Nielsen. (A wise career move, as Leslie was later rewarded for his respect and loyalty when ZAZ went on to cast The Naked Gun) Apart from Leslie, all of the rest of the case are here going through the motions reliving their old roles, and in many cases simply just re-telling the exact same jokes. The movie obviously needed something extra in the form of a new additional drawcard and it gets this with the appearance of William Shatner, as Commander Buck Murdock. Shatner does a great job at self-parody, it must be said, over-acting as usual and clearly having a great time hamming it up in this movie, which is fun for the audience.
The fact that Airplane II is not written or directed by ZAZ means that it is, of course, not a patch on the original and shouldn't be judged this way. It should be viewed instead as an alternate reading of the original. It is not meant to be anything more than simply a chance to re-live and pay homage to the genius of the original concept. Viewed this way, it's certainly less infuriating and can even make for a decent chuckle on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Like the previous two Paramount releases in this series, we are again presented with a 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio.
Luminance is great. Sharpness, foreground resolution and background resolution are all superb for a low-budget 1982 film. As with the previous releases, the softness in resolution and grain that is present is due to source and cannot be helped. It is indeed a pristine print and has been well mastered to DVD, with no low level noise and no material artefacts introduced.
Colours are also well rendered in the transfer. All colours used in the colour palette are beautifully saturated. Skin tones are all generally fine, with the exception of some of the control tower scenes, which I'll put down to source anomalies rather than the transfer. The blacks of space also beautifully deep in this transfer. (As a comment, the colours and lighting in the original Airplane! were deliberately washed and harsh, so as to convey the "B-grade movie" effect. The colours in the sequel are in contrast much more vibrant, making this movie certainly easier on the eye to watch, but also evidencing the fact that the director missed the point...)
There are no MPEG artefacts to worry about. Film-to-video artefacts are restricted to isolated instances of aliasing, but the transfer is relatively free of this. The only time when aliasing becomes truly distracting on my TV is the shimmer of the cockpit door at 71:37.
Film artefacts are there in the form of the expected film flecks here and there and some negative artefacts, but all in all this is a beautiful print and a delight to watch.
There are no subtitles on this disc. As with Airplane!, the DVD does indicate the presence of an English subtitle track, yet when turned "on" with the remote control, nothing appears. This disc is single-layered.
This mix is very bright and harsh. It is also for all intents and purposes a mono mix, with no stereo pans across the front of the sound stage.
Dialogue quality is fine. I did not miss any punch-lines through muffled or hard-to-hear audio, although I did note the mix being very harsh where there are sound effects overlaid on the dialogue, or for that matter where there is swelling of the music score or a rise in volume generally. Audio sync is fine.
There are some deplorable instances of audio mixing in this film. Take for example 22:13 to 22:40, a gag involving Ted opening a cupboard labelled "Danger, Vacuum!". The audio hiss apparent in the original recording of the sound effect used here is very noticeable. Maybe we didn't take too much notice of the finer points of the art of audio-mixing back when watching this film in the cinema in the early 80s, but in a DVD home-theatre environment the audio hiss and change in tonal qualities present in this mix is much more distracting. Listen at 67:37 for another obvious example, but there are many other spots. This film could probably be a case study example for film students of poor quality audio-mixing.
The music in this film is credited as "additional music and score adapted by Richard Hazard (original score by Elmer Bernstein)". Bernstein created a great score in the original, treading the fine line between B-grade and serious. Hazard just recounts and plays around the edges, to satisfactory effect.
As stated above, there is no surround presence on this audio and there is also virtually no subwoofer use. It's a very flat mix indeed.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu design on this disc is pathetic. The design style is the same as the previous two ZAZ DVD releases: deliberately low key, and the menus are again 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced still frames, with no audio underscore. However this time the main menu screen is so low-key as to be laughable! The drawing for the main menu screen is in the form of a travel ticket.... My 9 year-old nephew could have drawn a much better space shuttle travel ticket!
The only other menu is a very basic scene selection screen.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using Component output|
|Display||Toshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Yamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Amplification||Elektra Home Theatre surround power amp|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears|