Kino continues to mine the Disney back catalog of forgotten movies, and their re-issue of Terminal Velocity is a definite improvement over the previous Mill Creek release from 2012.
The Production: 3.5/5
I used to like Charlie Sheen as an actor before he became a caricature of himself, leading to his dismissal from his role on the hit sitcom Two And A Half Men. His witty delivery and seething sarcasm were a good fit in films like Major League, Hot Shots, Wall Street, and Platoon. And they are a good fit for the box office disappointment ($16.4 million U.S. gross on a $50 million estimated budget), Terminal Velocity. Sheen plays Ditch Brodie, a former Olympic gymnast and rebellious sky diving instructor who takes an overly anxious and enthusiastic student, Chris Morrow (Nastassja Kinski), on a routine, rookie dive that ends tragically when Chris jumps out of the plane when Ditch isn’t looking and plummets to her death when her parachute fails to deploy. Or did she? As Ditch investigates to clear his name of manslaughter and the flight school from being closed permanently by the FAA, he finds that Chris is not who she appeared to be. He finds photos of her in her apartment in full sky diving gear, but also finds a hit man (an over the top Christopher McDonald) ransacking the apartment, which ultimately leads Ditch to the very much alive Chris hiding out in the Arizona desert from the Russian mafia.
Terminal Velocity works best when putting one’s brain on hold, ignoring any jumps in logic taken by the serviceable plot, and just sitting back to enjoy many of the thrilling, adrenaline-inducing action set pieces offered up by screenwriter David Twohy (The Fugitive, Waterworld, Pitch Black, The Arrival) and director Deran Sarafian (episodes of CSI, House M.D., and CSI: NY), notably, the two main sky diving sequences that bookend the film. Sheen and Kinski have enough chemistry to carry the film, and James Gandolfini is amusing in a role that very obviously prepared him for The Sopranos.
While not one of the best action films from the 1990s, it does have enough originality, chemistry, and action set pieces to elevate it above the mediocrity of films from the same era (Speed 2, F/X2, Judge Dredd).
3D Rating: NA
Mill Creek previously released a barebones Blu-ray in 2012 that was actually pretty decent. Kino ups the ante with what is at least a new encode if not a completely new transfer. Spot-checking both releases shows the Kino having a substantially higher bitrate then the older Mill Creek. Colors are much more vivid on this newer release, and overall Kino’s image appears much sharper, although there are still some shots that appear soft that are likely the fault of the source material. Black levels are also improved, with no noticeable banding or crushing.
Kino’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack sounds identical to Mill Creek’s, as it should considering they are both lossless, but Kino’s has been encoded at a much lower bitratre than Mill Creek’s, often by as much as half. That all being said, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, while not exactly reference quality, is a thrill ride in and of itself. Fidelity and dynamic range are excellent. Surrounds and LFE are put to good use during the action sequences, with good rumbling during explosions and bullets flying from all directions during gunplay, as well as atmospheric effects during the sky diving sequences. Dialogue is clear and understandable. Kino has included a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track, too.
Special Features: 3/5
Audio Commentary by Entertainment Journalist and Author Bryan Reesman: Reesman, who has written books on Bon Jovi and hosts the podcast Side Jams tells you more than you’ve ever wanted to know about the movie Terminal Velocity.
Trailers (480i): In addition to the theatrical trailer for Terminal Velocity, Kino has also included trailers for No Man’s Land, Aces: Iron Eagle II, Fire Birds, Bat 21, Playing God, City of Industry, and Retroactive.
Audiences may have dismissed Terminal Velocity during its initial theatrical release in September 1994, and long thereafter on home video, and that’s a shame. While not a great film, it’s not a dud, either, and Kino has released a greatly improved disc over the previous Mill Creek release in both picture and bonus content.