FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: RANDAL KLEISER / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL BURTON, MATT MacMANUS / STARRING: JOEY CRAMER, PAUL REUBENS, CLIFF DeYOUNG, VERONICA CARTWRIGHT. SARAH JESSICA PARKER / RELEASE DATE: 26TH AUGUST
Directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease, Big-Top Peewee), ...Navigator follows the disappearance of twelve year old David Freeman. After falling into a ravine in the woods and losing consciousness, he wakes up to discover that things aren't quite what they used to be. Making his way home, he finds that eight years have passed and he's been missing for so long that the police have declared him legally dead. At the same time, in the same town, NASA are investigating a mysterious crashed UFO which, of course, is linked to David's disappearance...
The first half of the film follows NASA's efforts to establish the connection between the two cases. The story moves along at a decent pace, and it's so genuinely riveting that you'll be surprised to realise that it's taken a full 45 minutes for David to come face to face with the ship and its occupant, Max (voiced by Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Rubens). When the two finally meet, the film goes full-on adventure mode, with David taking off in the ship and travelling across the US in an attempt to find his family.
David and Max are a really enjoyable pair (although, admittedly, David does come across a bit of a wimp at times), and following their escapades makes for some genuinely wonderful family-friendly sci-fi that kids will easily follow but still contains enough mystery to keep grown ups' attention. Although it might be worth noting for any parents out there that this a bit more sweary than other Disney films – there are a few “shits” (the first time anyone said this in a Disney film, we're told in the commentary track) and at least one “bastard”!
There are still a fair few grainy bits in this Blu-ray remaster, especially during night scenes, but the picture has mostly been sharpened up incredibly well. There's plenty of detail that you couldn't see in the DVD release, and the special effects hold up tremendously, considering the film is over 30 years old.
Previous releases have been fairly sparse on the extras front, with nothing but a director's commentary (which is included here), but Second Sight's limited edition contains a treasure trove of information and stories that haven't been available before now. Behind the scenes photos and footage are spread throughout almost 90 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, and there's a stunning 100-page book containing additional photos, production notes and, best of all, the complete original storyboard.
It never seemed like ...Navigator would be a candidate for such a release, but the fact that it's now materialised – and has exceeded expectations – speaks volumes to the high regard in which the film is held. An absolute treat for existing fans, and by far the best way to introduce newcomers to the film, this is most certainly a re-release that's well worth picking up.