Flying High II: The Sequel (Airplane II: The Sequel) (1982)

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Released 15-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 80:41
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ken Finkleman

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Hays
Julie Hagerty
Lloyd Bridges
Chad Everett
Peter Graves
William Shatner
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Elmer Bernstein
Richard Hazard

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, final tag

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

Plot Synopsis

    After the phenomenal success of Airplane! in 1980 (re-titled here as Flying High!), it became obvious to Hollywood that the concept should be exploited for a sequel and that is exactly what we have in Airplane II: The Sequel (Australia: Flying High II), released two years later. It is not so much a sequel, but simply a re-hash, and a fairly mediocre one at that.

    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.

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

Transfer Quality


    This is a superb video transfer — no complaints here.

    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.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is a fairly accurate translation of the very ordinary quality original audio mix. We are presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix (224 kb/s), not surround encoded, as per the original theatrical audio.

    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.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras at all on this disc. Maybe that's not too surprising, as I'm sure there was probably no additional footage or gags leftover from this hastily-shot sequel. It's also obvious why Finkleman wasn't approached to do a commentary. But there can be no excuse for not even including the original theatrical trailer as an extra.

    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.

R4 vs R1

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

     Other region releases of this film are identical in specification, leaving R4 PAL to be preferred over R1 NTSC.


    Airplane II is a poor man's re-telling of the original classic. Don't judge it as a sequel, because it isn't. Think of it as imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. It makes for a lazy Sunday-afternoon chuckle and that's about all. The DVD itself provides an excellent video transfer, a replication of the original deplorable audio mix, no extras and a pathetic menu design effort.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Sean Abberton (read my bio)
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RXV-1000. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationElektra Home Theatre surround power amp
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora III mains, Orpheus Centaurus 1.0 centre, Velodyne CT150 sub and B&W DM303 rears

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