Image Entertainment // 1996 // 39 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 11th, 2009
Up, up, and away.
Image's latest IMAX unearthing blasts 40 minutes of aerial action at your stupid face.
The Magic of Flight focuses on the Blue Angels flying group, but weaves in a larger story of the history of aeronautics. You'll get a segment on The Wright Brothers, complete with expert interviews and old-school stills, as well as badass F-18s landing on an aircraft carrier. As an added bonus: the physical mechanics of lift and drag.
Also, birds! Lots and lots of birds.
Here we have another documentary plucked from the IMAX vaults that runs a smidge south of 40 minutes, but looks real pretty and learns you a bit. The Magic of Flight is a perfectly serviceable documentary about flying and stuff, populated by some genuinely stirring aerial photography of birds and fields.
And that's the real, er, thrust, of the attraction here. This being an IMAX production, you can expect some humongous scale cinematography and the gigantic belly-mounted cameras bolted to the bottom of the jets do not disappoint. Some of the stuff that's captured here is gut-wrenching in its stratospheric coolness -- barrel rolls, vertical climbs, landing gear, other stuff with fancy plane terminology that I can't remember, but I assure it looks sweet.
Intermingled with the photography is an interesting telling of the history and how-to physics of flight. With 40 minutes to work with, obviously the filmmakers are limited in the scope and depth of what they can accomplish, but there's enough grist here for the casual documentary viewer to chew through.
The big draw in this release will be the HD video quality and it's nice-looking. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is top-grade, the vistas and the topography the stand-outs. When the IMAX cameras get their lenses on the sweeping landscapes as they roll by from underneath the jets, it's a stunner. The DTS-HD master audio track is clean, but a word of warning: the cornball score is an ear-slayer A making-of documentary is so robust it runs longer than the actual feature film its documenting the making-of of.
A brief, nifty tell-all on planes that is also real pretty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 39 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated