The Sky Crawlers (Blu-ray) Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Year: 2008 Rated: PG-13 (for material involving violence, some sexual content and smoking) Film Length: 121 minutes Disc Format: BD50 Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC Codec Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Japanese, English, Portuguese), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish) Subtitles: English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, Portuguese US Release Date: May 26, 2009 Movie: out of Based on a series of novels by Hiroshi Mori, Mamoru Oshii’s (Ghost In The Shell) latest film, The Sky Crawlers is, on the surface, a tale about young fighter pilots performing in dogfights for reasons they do not understand, nor care to understand. As the film opens, Yuichi Kannami arrives at the air base as a replacement pilot. He has no memory of what happened in his life before he arrives, but starts to find that everything has an eerie familiarity to it. At first, no one is willing to explain how the prior pilot died or why the pilot’s plane is in pristine condition. To explain anymore of the story would spoil the rest of the film, but continue watching beyond the closing credits for an additional scene. Director Oshii tells his story through the use of traditional 2-D animation when the action is grounded, and combines that with 3-D computer generated animation for the often thrilling dogfight sequences. In addition, the pilots speak Japanese on the ground and English when in the air. Like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the film subtly questions the society’s use of genetically produced humans for labor and entertainment, while at the same time provides a feast for the eyes and ears. Video: out of Sony has provided a near-reference quality 1080p AVC encode for The Sky Crawlers. The film’s muted color palette consists of browns and khaki greens, but where the video really shines is in the action sequences. Compression artifacts are virtually non-existent. Since the film was likely created in the digital realm, as are most animated films these days, film grain was minimal and detail was sharp. Audio: out of To match the superb video, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Japanese language track, mixed at Skywalker Sound by Randy Thom (Coraline, Bolt, Beowulf) and Tom Myers (WALL-E, Cars), is vibrant, with deep bass, and exceptional fidelity and directionality. Your sound system will get a real workout, and the gunshot at 1:47 nearly had me jumping out of my chair. The English language Dolby TrueHD is almost as good, but the voice acting is disappointing and at times distracting. Special Features: out of Three featurettes are included, all in Japanese with optional English subtitles, and presented in high definition: Animation Research for The Sky Crawlers is a 31 minute look at preproduction. Mamoru Oshii and his animators travel to Poland and Ireland to get a feel for the setting of the film. Oshii narrates through videotaped interviews recorded in hotel rooms and the mixing stage at Skywalker Sound. Preproduction sketches are interspersed throughout. The Sound Design and Animation of The Sky Crawlers is a 32 minute featurette highlighting Mamoru Oshii and his team visiting Skywalker Sound to discuss the sound design, recording sessions for the musical score and dialogue, and what I assume is footage from the wrap party. Sky’s the Limit: An Interview with Director Mamoru Oshii Essentially 15 minutes of clips from The Sky Crawlers with interview footage of the director discussing his thoughts on the film and what he hoped he accomplished in the final product. Previews Sony has included the following trailers, the first three play automatically when the disc is started. Blu-ray Disc is High Definition! Dragon Wars The Da Vinci Code Extended Cut Passengers Close Encounters Overall: out of The Sky Crawlers is a film that will likely stay with you long after you have viewed it, but it may not be for everyone (definitely not for young children). With exceptional video and audio, this Blu-ray release makes a very fine demo disc for any home theater enthusiast and is highly recommended.