|Blue Thunder (1983)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Thursday, 13 August 2009|
The film stars Roy Scheider, someone who has continued acting over the years, but has not been noticeable in anything by "Jaws" and "Jaws 2." The film also stars a young Daniel Stern. Neither gives any type of convincing performance, nor does anyone else in the film. Colonel Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell) is also quite annoying.
"Blue Thunder" follows Officer Frank Murphy (Roy Scheider), a pilot for police helicopters and his partner, trainee Lymangood (Daniel Stern) as they get themselves into trouble. Murphy is a Vietnam Vet that has psychological problems. His partner is just naïve. On the night shift, the partners call in an abandoned vehicle and move on. It turns out that it was a stakeout by a couple of thugs. They were waiting for the Mayor's assistant to return home in attempt to rob/rape her.
Murphy immediately knows that there is more to the murder of the Mayor's assistant. However, no one else wants to hear about it so the case is closed. Trouble really begins for Murphy when he is summoned by the government to attend a testing of Blue Thunder, an armored helicopter that looks like a weenie in comparison with today's flight equipment. While film states that all the equipment in this film is currently being used in the military, they way it is portrayed in the film is impossible.
Blue Thunder is apparently a weaponized vehicle invented to protect Los Angeles during the upcoming Olympics from terrorist attacks. Ummm, okay. Murphy immediately clashes with the currently pilot of Blue Thunder, Colonel Cochrane. The two were partners in Vietnam and something happened that makes the two hate each other. It is never really explained.
So after the murder of the assistant, we expect the film to be about that event. Instead we are now dealing with Blue Thunder. Murphy, spying on the Colonel overhears a conversation in the federal building about how they want to kill him. All this is recorded on the tape stored in the helicopter. Lymangood hides the tape, which costs him a dear price.
The rest of the film has to deal with finding the tape and taking out everyone that said they were going to kill Murphy. The link to the murder is very weak and never fully explained. All I can say is that this film is hardly worth watching the first time let alone owning it so you can watch it again.
Despite the poor movie quality, the video transfer is surprisingly good. Presented in MPEG-4 AVC and a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, "Blue Thunder" comes across nicely on the big screen. Film grain is minimized. It appears that there has been some digital noise reduction as the image is bit soft. The image as a whole is washed out. The colors are very bland and smeared. Details are above average, but textures have been smeared as well. The black levels are not as deep as they could be, but they are consistent. The image certainly does not pop from the screen. The contrast and brightness levels are a bit weak. Shadow delineation is never a problem as the contrast is not high enough. The print source is in good shape. There are only minor scratches and dirt spots visible randomly throughout the film. This is probably a good upgrade from the standard DVD.
Audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. This track has been upgraded from stereo, but suffers from nearly all the same problems as "Starman." The dialogue is mainly clear, but again it distorts when the track becomes overloaded. There are few discreet effects in the surround channels. There are a couple instances when F16s and helicopters fly from front to back. The pan is completely smooth, but the directionality is good until it gets cut off. The LFE channel is a bit boomy. It seems to swallow up a lot of the mid frequencies. The dynamic range is above average. Frequency response is unbalanced. Ambience is not present in the surround channels, despite the activity in the Los Angeles scene. The lossless TrueHD track is nice but it opens more problems with the audio track rather than create a completely immersive listening experience.
The Blu-ray comes with the same bonus materials as the standard DVD. They remain in standard definition. First there is an audio commentary with the director, editor and motion control supervisor. This track is technically informative, but gets strenuous after a while. "Ride With the Angels" is a about a 45-minute making-of documentary that covers the pre-production, production and post-production of the film. "The Special: Building Blue Thunder" takes a look at the design of the helicopter as a prop. Lastly there is an original 1983 promotional featurette and the original theatrical trailer. The disc is also BD-Live enabled.
"Blue Thunder" is not my cup of tea. If you want to watch it for a few cool helicopter scenes then by all means. However, the story is completely useless. The video quality is quite decent, but the audio quality falters despite an effort by the studio. I would have to advise skipping this one.