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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French, Spanish, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish

    The Air Up There

    Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . PG . PAL


    Bacon. Kevin Bacon. The Air Up There holds the “lamb” version of Kevin Bacon. OK, not as “lamb” as Friday the 13th, but still, in the ten years since The Air Up There, Kevin Bacon has really aged. No, really, really aged. So picture Cool Runnings, and take out John Candy, and of course, the Jamaican bobsled team, add Kevin Bacon and a tall African basketballer and you’ve got yourself The Air Up There. Well, sort of. Maybe? OK, not. This time we’re set in Africa under the blazing sun with a basketball and not on the icy grounds with a bobsled. And there are no steel drums in sight. There’s no lucky egg either, but still repetitive jokes are safely in place.

    Kevin Bacon plays Jimmy Dolan, an assistant basketball coach who’s desperate to sign the next star player for his college’s basketball team. And this search brings him to the Winabi tribe in remote Africa to meet Saleh – hopefully to bring him back to the college basketball team. The journey to Africa gives a storybook picture of the area, with such a stereotypical look, full of comic-like characters and colourful, well-framed shots. It really does look like a storybook come to life. However simplistic this trip is, the troubles that Jimmy comes across are slightly unusual, yet every journey does have its quirks.

    A rather large problem comes up, though – Saleh is the next in line to lead his tribe, something that you can’t just leave to go and play basketball. So we have threads of all sorts of genres tied together here – family, sport, comedy, coming of age, romance, adventure and finding your opinions in the world.

    Simply put, The Air Up There is a lot of fun. Sure it’s simplistic and straightforward, but for the kids this is un-offensive and enjoyable and is enough to entertain for 100 minutes. The laughs are aimed at a young audience, and the dialogue is simple enough for them to follow. Yes, that means there are plenty of “poo” jokes. Suited for kids between the ages of seven and 14, this film holds fairly little for older audiences, and just some mindless celluloid for adult audiences. But still give it a go and grab this one from your local video store next holidays and, swish, the kids will be shooshed in no time.


    Presented in its original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1, The Air Up There comes to us on an anamorphically-enhanced transfer. The picture quality is incredibly high, showing very little in the way of niggly nasties that can be seen on older prints. Aliasing and compression-related artefacts aren’t an issue at all, with a highly detailed and silky smooth image presented on screen. Film artefacts are pretty much absent for the entire duration, apart from a minute speck flicking past here or there – be warned that if you want to find these, you'll need to keep your eyes peeled. The biggest sign of any artefact would be the wash of grain over the entire image, which is so fine and unobtrusive that it’s nearly not even worth mentioning. With a relatively high bit-rate of around the six or seven Mbps, posterisation is thankfully absent, capturing the richness of the subtle colour gradients without fault. Blacks are solid, and whites bright, with every colour of the rainbow being faithfully mastered with a healthy saturation. Running for just over 100 minutes, a dual-layered pause occurs somewhere in the midst, but sneaks past without as much as a gasp to disturb the action.


    Originally featuring a Dolby-SR soundtrack in theatres in 1993, ten years on in 2003 we are given the full Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment with three language possibilities. And boy does she sound good. OK, it’s no Matrix wannabe, but it does its job successfully. Dialogue is clear throughout, crisply coming from the centre channel, and discrete effects pop out from the left and right. Surround channels are used to carry the score and provide some ambience, but really have very little to offer in the way of innovative aural excitement. David Newman (Scooby Doo) provides an appropriate score with plenty of tribal rhythms, which is supported, as well as the effects, through the subwoofer.


    Well some 16:9 enhanced menus with audio don’t really make up for the lack of extras. Oh well, move along...


    For entertainment purposes, The Air Up There is a good one for the basketball kids out there, and is an enjoyable ride, but nothing gives it that must-have edge. It’s not offensive or violent, however it is predictable and formulaic, but still it works. The transfer for this 1993 film really does it justice, with very little to complain about, except the utter lack of extra features. If the kids are bored give this one a shot next holidays as it will keep them occupied for nearly two hours. What more could any parent want?

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3216
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      And I quote...
    "Think of Cool Runnings except under the hot sun in Africa and with Kevin Bacon involved..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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