MPI // 1990 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 28th, 2008
I wish I could come up with something positive to say about this DVD, considering I did my seventh grade science fair project on the SR71 Blackbird and have a soft spot for bad-ass experimental aircraft that serve very few practical purposes, but I can't do it. X-Planes is a terrible release, too old, too boring, too technically shoddy to appeal to anyone save the hardest of the hardcore plane junkies.
This is what X-Planes is: it's the video your bored, tenured high school technology teacher threw on the VCR because he was too tired from racquetball the afternoon before and putting together a lesson plan just didn't seem that appealing so you, the hapless student gets to battle vicious fatigue with the lights turned down while the narrator drones on and on about the history of airplanes. Worse, the narrator has such a dull voice and delivery and his copy seems to have been lifted straight from a NASA orientation video that your eyelids will clamp down tighter than a bear trap.
Which is a shame because I really am predisposed to DVDs about cool airplanes. You only have to look as far as my glowing review of Dogfights, a show about planes that is both entertaining and informative. X-Planes is monotonous, quite a feat when you consider the subject matter is supersonic jets that look awesome. It's as if these guys had to work extra hard to make her program mind-numbingly boring. But they succeeded. Congrats!
On top of that, this is all wildly out-of-date information. It's a show about cutting-edge research on experimental airplanes and what the future will bring, but the thing was made in 19-fricking-90 and I'm guessing a lot has happened in the world of aeronautics since Bush 41. For example, the big news this program brings us is the development of the Osprey, the vertical take-off aircraft that I've seen in action in at least half a dozen Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
The general aviation history featured in the beginning of the film might be of moderate use to aircraft fanatics, but I'm really stretching it. You'll almost certainly find more compelling and complete information after a Google search. Anyway, it's probably a moot point because the bulk of the feature is devoted to the "future" of experimental flight and the info is almost laughable in its antiquation.
Let's wrap this up by piling on. As if the content wasn't useless enough, wait until you get a load of the disc's technical treatment. The full frame video is VHS quality, dirty and soft and abysmal in comparison to virtually anything else recently released. Shockingly, the sound is even worse, a flat 2.0 mono mix that slurs and whines along as if the tracking is way off, which it probably was during the DVD transfer process.
Do yourself a favor and buy something more interesting and useful for the airplane lover in your life...like an air-sickness bag.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Not Rated