Flight of the Navigator
Back when the Disney name meant a blockbuster movie every time, Walt Disney Productions gave kids a science fiction adventure that holds its placeÖ in the Ď80s.
Is there a kid out there who didnít want something amazing to happen to them? Thatís the basis for most successful kid flicks, from Harry Potter to the Spy Kids. Disneyís Flight of the Navigator is no different, and formulated enough that you can almost hear the voice of someone like Rod Serling introducing the movie:
"Meet David Freeman, a young boy in 1978. He has parents who love him, a little bratty brother, and the beginnings his first crush on a childhood sweetie. But young David is about to step headfirst intoÖ the amazing zone."
After meeting the central characters, David goes for a walk in the woods where he falls down an incline and passes out. He awakens to find itís 8 years later and he hasnít aged a day. As scientists start to try and identify whatís happened to our young hero, we see they have also recovered a UFO. Gee, do you think the two could be connected?
Certainly enough they are. David doesnít remember the last eight years because he has spent that time on the spaceship. Because of the fragile nature of humans, the vessel was unable to take David back in time, so it simply wiped his memory and abandoned him, only to crash into some power lines. Now it needs the star charts it placed in Davidís head in order to get back on track. Soon the young boy and space ship are united as David the navigator and Max the space ship computer each try to find their way back home. Itís a cute enough story, even if it relies on convenience from time to time.
The biggest downside of the film is itís incredibly dated, and not a film that is necessarily going to relate well to modern day audiences. It has the requisite synthesizer soundtrack for any science fiction movie of the Ď80s and takes place in a world where cell phones didnít exist, Sarah Jessica Parkerís purple strand of hair was considered hardcore, and the Beach Boysí "I Get Around" was perfect traveling music. Itís definitely a film of yesteryear.
That however doesnít remove all of its good sides. The film still has some breathtakingly stunning landscape shots as the space vessel travels at high velocity along the terrain. Also impressive are some of the special effect shots which, although unable to compare with a post Jurassic Park CGI world, still arenít half bad in an 80ís version of The Day the Earth Stood Still kind of way. The highlight of the film is Max (Paul Reubens), the computerized operator of the vessel who, after inadvertently taking on some of Davidís personality quirks sounds awfully like Pee Wee Herman at times. His bubbly chaotic personality is just too much fun, and after an afternoon spent watching Flight of the Navigator I can be mimic his respond to questions with an eager "Compliance!"
Come on Disney! Get with the program. I donít know anybody these days that release a DVD with NO EXTRAS. Thatís part of the fun of the DVD format, a chance to give the film lovers a chance to see behind the scenes or concepts that never happened. Disney had tons of opportunity with this movie: They could have documentaries about the groundbreaking special effects of the shipís transformation sequences, or how about a funny commentary track by Paul Reubens in character? Maybe pull a Goonies and show a cast commentary with a now-and-then feel to it. Just give us something, but donít just put out nothing and justify it by putting a cheaper price on it. You know whatís cheaper then a DVD with nothing on it? Watching the movie on television, or just watching my old scratched up VHS copy.
Letís be honest. This wasnít a fantastic movie and itís dated enough that it wonít be a classic for the ages. The only people who really had a chance of buying it were those who wanted it for the nostalgia of it, and Disney had a chance to capitalize on that nostalgia by releasing a cornucopia of extras like they did with TRON. Instead this is the biggest insult to Disney DVD fans since Muppet Treasure Island was only released in fullscreen. I had completely planned to add this film to my DVD library, but I donít buy DVDs with NO EXTRAS on them, and neither should you.
Reviewed By: Rafe Telsch