American Flyers

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Kevin Costner has made his share of good and bad movies…this is true. While I haven’t ever seen The Postman I have heard so many bad things about it, that I probably never will. Conversely, I have never seen Dances with Wolves, either (sorry, it is on my palette though). So let’s take a trip back to 1985, back when Costner’s only credits were Sizzle Beach USA and a stint as a dead body that was cut out of The Big Chill…American Flyers was Costner’s first really big movie. I remember at the time, it was supposed to be compared to Breaking Away (another movie about cycling), but never really quite measured up. This movie doesn’t really try and communicate any specific message, it’s just a fun movie with some pretty serious undertones. Costner plays Marcus Sommers, a doctor who has had a falling out with his mother and brother. He lives far away (In Madison, Wisconsin) trying to live his life the way he thinks is right. On the other hand is his younger brother, David (Davey) who is convinced that he has the same hereditary condition that killed his father. Marcus comes and spends time with his family, convinces David to get tested for the condition and at the same time do a little brotherly “bonding” by competing in Marcus’ last big fling, the grueling ‘Hell of the West’. David overhears Marcus discussing the results of his test and thinks he has the strange condition that killed his father. So what is this condition? It’s called a cerebal annurism (I probably spelled that wrong). Basically, as Marcus describes it, it’s like a heart attack of the brain. It’s a weak blood vessel that can burst, resulting in death. With a pretty good cast, ranging from Baywatch’s Alexandra Paul to John Amos (Coming to America), American Flyers is a rock-solid good movie. It didn’t win any Oscars, nor did it deserve any. It’s one of those movies that came and went, launched a few careers and has finally made it’s way to DVD. If you’re a fan of Costner or bicycling, you owe it to yourself to check this movie out. If not…well I’m sure you’ll sleep at night, too.

Video: How does it look?

American Flyers is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Not a bad choice for this “first time in widescreen” film (ok, ok, the old LD was in widescreen). The film shows it’s age a bit, but for the most part looks really clean and sharp. There are some great shots of the rocky mountains (where the Hell of the West takes place), and the widescreen shows all of it. Some digital artifacting, but like I said…for the most part a great transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

A Dolby Surround mix is used, and it also serves it’s purpose. I’m sure they could have remastered this in 5.1 sound, but some movies just don’t need it. There’s a lot of synthesizer music (as was typical in ’80’s films) that would sound to dry and broken off in a newer mix. Dialogue is clear, a bit muted at times, but it sounds pretty good. There is one scene, when they’re watching a tape of an old “Hell of the West”, where Marcus (Costner) says–“Here’s what it sounds like to win…” and all five channels light up with the ambiance of applause. That really stood out at being pretty neat.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Well, aside from a 16:9 transfer, that’s all you get. Not even a trailer. Like I said before, if you’re a die hard Costner fan or just love this movie, pick it up. If you’re into supplemental material, maybe you should try another disc. It’s worth a rent at least.

Disc Scores