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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 63:27)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies

Blue Thunder

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Frank Murphy is a veteran Helicopter pilot for the Astro division of the Los Angeles Police Department. He is a good pilot and a good cop but he has a distrust for authority and an easy going attitude that grates on some of his superiors. He is also an ex Vietnam veteran who is haunted by nightmares and more disturbingly, flashbacks while on duty. These problems have attracted the attention of the department who are pressing for him to undergo psychiatric examination to see if he is still fit for duty.

During a recent holiday his partner has transferred to the day shift and so Murphy finds himself baby sitting a young rookie named Lymangood. The rookie is a big dopey kind of guy but wins Murphy over with his big heart, intelligence and enthusiasm.

The two are soon caught up in an experimental program that will see the use of a new, sophisticated helicopter gunship nick-named 'Blue Thunder'. Murphy becomes suspicious of the real goals of the project when he discovers a link between the murder of commissioner McNeely, the head of a task force into urban violence and a mysterious military project called Thor. He uses the advanced surveillance tools onboard Blue Thunder to uncover a murderous plot run by men who will stop at nothing to reach their goals.

I first saw this movie in about 1983, during it's cinema release and really liked it. There are some great aerial sequences and the story moves along at a good pace. The movie was photographed using anamorphic lenses and so the look of the film was striking with strong compositions and a nice widescreen image. I was certainly a big fan of this film and I'm glad that some effort has gone into providing high quality transfers for this DVD.

  Video
Contract

This video transfer is framed in the same way as when released theatrically at 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

This transfer is really excellent especially when you consider that this movie is now over 17 years old. It is very sharp and detailed and would compare very favourably with many more recent releases in this regard. It is a little variable though, a few scenes appearing less sharp than most. The shadow detail isn't always great but seems natural enough and the black level is generally good. This is just as well as a lot of this film is set at night.

The colour palette is very natural looking and doesn't have the slightly pastel look to skin tones that other films released in this period often do. There aren't many bright colours in this movie but the stop lights of cars do look nicely saturated and the orange flame of explosions bright and bold.

Film-To-Video artefacts are all but absent with only trivial occurrences of aliasing visible on venetian blinds. The print used to make this transfer was very clean indeed as I noticed only a couple of dust marks in the entire movie. Great stuff! In fact the only real artefact of any note is a minor amount of pixelization in many of the night scenes. I only noticed it because I was looking for problems (that's what I'm here for!). Anyone watching the movie for the sheer enjoyment of doing so wouldn't notice this at all.

The only other thing I noticed were a couple of brief moments when the image jumps slightly. I'm not sure why this occurs and can only assume that it is the result of a bad cut. As with the pixelization, it is minor and most likely missed during normal viewing.

The layer change for this film occurs at 63:27, during a change of scene and while the change is noticeable it is not disruptive to the flow of the movie.

  Audio
Contract

This movie was released theatrically in Dolby Stereo and has been re-mastered for home release with no less than 5 multi-channel soundtracks available on this disc. There are 3 Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, each is encoded with a bit rate of 448 Kb/s. The languages available on the 5.1 tracks are English, French and German. There are also 2 Dolby Digital 2.0 surround tracks that have been encoded at 192 Kb/s. The languages available for these tracks are Italian and Spanish.

I listened to the English 5.1 track and while it is a good effort the humble nature of the original source material can be clearly heard. The fidelity of the sound is a little thin and there are a few moments in which loud dialogue causes some distortion. Split channel effects do occur for example, helicopters and jets fly from the front speakers to the rears in a very satisfying way! Ambient sounds like radio chatter or television sound may be heard in one of the other channels while the main dialogue is coming from the centre. The score can be heard in all channels which certainly helps keep you immersed in the on screen action. You don't get too many rumbles from the subwoofer, I mainly heard it during the helicopter sequences.

  Extras
Contract

Theatrical Trailer

Running for approximately 3 minutes, this trailer is framed at approximately 1.85:1 and is NOT 16x9 enhanced. It features Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The quality of the trailer is pretty good.

Cast and Crew Information

There is a basic biography and filmography provided for director John Badham and actors Roy Scheider and Daniel Stern.

  Overall  
Contract

A good movie sporting a very good video transfer and a pretty good re-mastered audio track. The movie itself has dated a little but is still a quality action/thriller. Both Roy Scheider (Murphy) and a very young Daniel Stern (Lymangood) put in good performances as the good guys and Malcom McDowell (Cochrane) is suitably despicable as the bad guy.


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      And I quote...
    "Great helicopter sequences and good acting make this an enjoyable action thriller."
    - Michael Chappell
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Loewe Xenix 5006DD
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 105(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Grundig MW82-50/8 IDTV 16:9
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2801
    • Speakers:
          Tannoy Mercury M4
    • Centre Speaker:
          Tannoy Mercury MC
    • Surrounds:
          Tannoy Mercury M1
    • Subwoofer:
          Aaron SUB-120
    • Audio Cables:
          Monster Lightspeed 100
    • Video Cables:
          ConCord SCART
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