Sony // 1986 // 117 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // August 16th, 1999
Break the speed barrier.
1980s cheese-ball fluff film, Iron Eagle comes to DVD. Columbia TriStar gives the film nice treatment on DVD; probably the best treatment it will ever receive.
Top Gun for teenagers, Iron Eagle is your typical '80s "one man army" flick, with a soundtrack to prove it. Those who found some enjoyment out of the '80s will probably enjoy this film; those who wish that the '80s never happened will probably love to roast this film.
Teenage Doug Masters (Jason Gedrick) dreams of joining the Air Force, encouraged by his father, a Colonel in the Air Force. However, Doug lacks the intellect to gain admittance to the Air Force Academy. While sulking over his failure, Doug learns that his father has been shot down while flying in the Middle East and taken prison by a small country (the name of which they never state). This small Middle Eastern country decides to make an example out of Colonel Masters and decides to have him executed. Back in the United States, the military refuses any action to retrieve Masters and resolves to try diplomatic routes. As Doug sees that his father's time is running out, he enlists the help of retired Air Force Colonel Chappy Sinclair (Louis Gossett, Jr.) in a suicide mission to fly a jet into the Middle East and rescue his father. After extensive planning, Doug Masters and Chappy put everything they have on the line when they steal two jets from the Air Force and head off to the Middle East to rescue Colonel Masters.
Although the plot is completely implausible, it still is entertaining. True, for those living inside an Air Force base it might be possible to steal a plane, but there is no way they could fly to the Middle East and basically destroy half a small country and its entire Air Force. Still, with that '80s spirit inside us, we can feel good about thinking events like these could actually happen. Of course, in the film, Doug can only get into his groove while flying if he is listening to some jammin' '80s music (occasionally some oldies too).
Columbia TriStar brings Iron Eagle to DVD with better treatment than some feel it deserves. Available both in widescreen (1.85:1 anamorphic) and full screen formats, Iron Eagle looks very solid in the video department. While slightly grainy, like many Columbia transfers, there are no major picture flaws and no visible compression artifacts on this disc. The audio is another story, however. First of all, on the shrink wrap for this disc there was a sticker that said, "Superior Audio with Dolby Digital 5.1." I guess I set my expectations a little high after reading that sticker as the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is less than stellar. Dialogue is well placed and the soundtrack sounds outstanding, but the sound effects are another story (see below).
As a cheaper disc ($24.95 MSRP, $19.95 street) from Columbia TriStar it appears as if the studio opted to go light on the extra content with this disc. Not even a theatrical trailer is to be found on Iron Eagle, but there is a small section with filmographies for the major stars in the film. You also can read up on the production of Iron Eagle with the included two page booklet.
This film you will either love or hate. As a young adult when this film was released, I completely enjoyed it 13 years ago. I can look back and see beyond the horrid script and acting and remember the film, and the '80s, as I first saw it. Hey, I'm still old enough to rock and roll (see the film, you'll know what I mean) but I doubt many people are. If you have children, slightly older children (8-14), they probably will enjoy this film. As a matter of fact, they probably have already seen Iron Eagle judging by the number of times I have seen it playing on UHF stations during Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
If you hated the 1980s, please stay away from this film...far away!
Back to the 5.1 audio track on the disc, which falls flat on its face with sound effects. During dogfights in the film, sound effects come almost entirely from the forward soundstage and are not at all distinct. Iron Eagle comes off more like a gush of roaring sound from the forward soundstage (like a mono track) than a 5.1 surround track Dealing with planes, you'd expect a film like Iron Eagle to have its fair share of surround effects, but there are hardly any.
More extra content on this disc would be nice, but I don't know how many people would be interested in it. The extra content is not what will make or break your decision to purchase or rent this disc. It all boils down to whether or not you like the film or not.
If you love this film, give it a nostalgic rental. If you hate this film, why are you even reading this review? Columbia TriStar treats the film well enough on DVD, in light of its limited audience, with a nice video transfer, but a rather weak audio track.
Hung jury on film and disc. It's a complete toss-up based on your feelings for the '80s.
Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Talent and Filmographies