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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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The Right Stuff Blu-ray ReviewBlu-ray Warner
Nov 04 2013 08:03 PM | Cameron Yee in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Warner Brothers
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other
- Rating: PG
- Run Time: 3 Hr. 12 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD
- Case Type:
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)
- Region: A
- Release Date: 11/05/2013
- MSRP: $27.98
The Production Rating: 4.5/5“...it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially one that's on TV.” – Chuck Yeager (as played by Sam Shepard)
Adapted from Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction bestseller, Director/Writer Phillip Kauffman’s The Right Stuff chronicles the United States’ quest to send a man into orbit around the Earth, an endeavor that took place from 1959 to 1963 and was overseen by then fledgling government agency NASA. As with the book, the film humanizes the ambitious Project Mercury by focusing on the men selected as astronauts, individuals who served as both the project’s public face and ultimate risk takers. The film also highlights the aircraft test pilots who embodied the rare physical and mental qualities required for such dangerous work, specifically Chuck Yeager and his supersonic flights with the Bell X-1 and X-1A airplanes, and of course the long-suffering spouses who constantly lived with the uncertainty of their husbands’ survival.
The effectiveness of Kauffman’s film, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is in its combination of shrewd casting and effective storytelling, which hits all the major points in the “space race” timeline without feeling like anyone or anything gets short shrift (though I’m sure some historians will disagree). Most of the actors filling the roles were unknown at the time, but it’s difficult now to see anyone else besides Ed Harris as the principled John Glenn, Sam Shepard as the no-nonsense Chuck Yeager, and Scott Glenn as the jocular Alan Shepard. Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward as Gordon Cooper and Gus Grissom, respectively, also turn in effective portrayals of men willing to risk their lives for the reputation of their country.
From a technical standpoint, the film also holds up incredibly well – the scenes aboard the experimental aircraft and the Mercury rocket launches remain as tense and visceral as they were when they were first constructed, thanks to skillful special effects, sound design, and editing that bring various scale models and practical effects to life. Of course, the film seems downright simple compared to Alfonso Cuaron's head-spinning film Gravity, but it's also no surprise the film taps Harris to be the voice of Mission Control (along with playing Glenn, he also played NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13). Just as the astronauts of today owe a great debt to the pioneers of the Mercury Project, so does a state of the art film like Gravity to cinematic forebears like The Right Stuff.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer provides a lovely presentation of Caleb Deschanel’s naturalistic cinematography, featuring excellent black levels, shadow detail and contrast. Colors are also rich and nicely saturated, particularly in the warm glow of the California desert scenes. Detail is consistently first rate, from close ups of performers to landscapes, and grain appears intact with no signs of excessive manipulation. A few softer shots pop up here and there, but appear inherent to the source.
Audio Rating: 4/5Dialogue in the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track is crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround channel activity is somewhat limited, but instances of aircraft flyovers and other environmental sounds are seamless and balanced. LFE is absent, given the vintage of filmmaking and sound design, but action sequences where rocket and airplane engines have major presence have reasonable and robust low frequency activity.
Special Features: 4/5The second disc containing the bonus material is a re-pressing of Disc Two of the 2003 Special Edition, and thus carries over the most critical extras from the previous release.
The Journey and the Mission, Audio Commentary with Selected Scenes (24:29, SD): The same 24 minutes of scenes serve as the visual backdrop for two separate, compiled commentary tracks, the first featuring members of the cast (Chuck Yeager, who served as a technical advisor, Dennis Quaid, Barbara Hershey, Jeff Goldblum, Harry Shearer, Ed Harris, Fred Ward, et al) and the second, the filmmaking crew (Caleb Deschanel, Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, Bill Conti, Philip Kauffman, et al).
Realizing the Right Stuff (21:04, SD): Retrospective piece catches up with members of the cast and crew 20 years later and covers the film’s development and production.
T-20 Years and Counting (11:25, SD): The continuation of the retrospective covers the special effects, editing process, film score, premiere, and initial reception.
The Real Men with the Right Stuff (15:30, SD): The final part of the retrospective interviews Chuck Yeager, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra, and Gordon Cooper about the Mercury Project and the events depicted in the film.
Additional Scenes (10:54, SD)
Interactive Timeline into Space: Text panels highlight major events in the journey to space, from 1961 to 2012. The information about the James Webb Space Telescope (2010) and the Orbital Space Plane (2012) is now incredibly inaccurate, however.
John Glenn: American Hero (1:26:31, SD): PBS biography on Glenn, produced in 1998.
Theatrical Trailer (3:30, SD)
Collectible Book: Incorporated into the packaging, the high quality printed material includes an overview of the film’s source material, an essay about the film’s legacy, cast and crew biographies, and promotional and production photographs.
Online Bonus: The Sound of The Right StuffSupport HTF when you buy this title:
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