Plot: What’s it about?
Amy Alden (Anna Paquin) has just lost her mother and has been taken in by her estranged father, Thomas (Jeff Daniels). He lives on a countryside estate in Canada, where he works on his artwork and various projects, even some important issues at times. Amy is hesitant to open up to her father and when she sees some of the work he does, she scoffs and claims it to be a waste of time, though inside she is very interested. When a construction squad starts to demolish the woods behind his home, Thomas runs out in his underwear to stop them, only to be confronted with massive machines and uncooperative drivers. Amy doesn’t seem to care about the wooded areas, but Thomas does and he has tried to stop the construction teams, with little success. But Amy is about to take an interest, when she discovers a nest of abandon goose eggs, which will soon hatch. When the little goslings emerge from the shells, Amy is their mother and this means she must raise them, with a little help from Thomas and his girlfriend, Susan (Dana Delaney). But can the trio hatch a plan to help the young goslings migrate, or will they be stuck in the area all season?
This film was first released in a bare bones, full frame only edition, so I am pleased to see a special edition here, complete with a new anamorphic widescreen transfer. As for the movie itself, I don’t think it is a great movie on the whole, but it is a solid picture and as far as family oriented fare, it is better than most. Anna Paquin (X-Men) is terrific in her role, while Jeff Daniels (Dumb & Dumber) and Dana Delaney (The Curve) supply very good supporting turns, which help flesh out the cast. The storyline is somewhat based on real events, with some changes made to ensure better cinema, of course. I like the premise and while the emotional content is corny at times, it never gets too out of hand, which is good news. It has elements of drama, humor, and a strong message about the importance of family, which is a good message, to be sure. The kids should like the goslings and the more comedic moments, while adults will also be entertained and of course, pleased with the messages delivered by the movie. I recommend this film to all those interested and now that Columbia has issued a worthwhile disc, a rental or purchase would be more than justified.
Video: How does it look?
Fly Away Home is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As usual, Columbia has issued a fine visual treatment, free from any serious errors. The image is clean and very sharp, with minimal print defects to lessen the visual impact. The colors are bold and bright, with no signs of smears, while flesh tones look natural and consistent. I was pleased with the contrast also, as detail never gets bogged down and black levels remain well balanced throughout. This is the transfer fans have waited for and I have to say, it was well worth the wait, to be sure.
Audio: How does it sound?
As you can imagine, this isn’t an audio powerhouse of a movie, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is still more than effective. The surrounds are used for subtle touches at times, but also have some power pulses, especially during the flight scenes. In other words, you won’t be deafened by this mix, but it handles the material and that’s what counts. The musical score by Mark Isham is very good and sounds terrific here, with a nice overall presence. No issues in terms of vocals either, dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand, as it should be. This disc also includes 2.0 surround options in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Thai, Korean, and Chinese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc isn’t called a special edition without good reason, as it comes loaded with bonus materials from top to bottom. As I mentioned above, Mark Isham’s musical score is an enjoyable one and here, you can enable an isolated score option, which includes comments from Isham. You can also activate an audio commentary track with director Carol Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, who share their views on the movie and how it was made. This is a good track on the whole, as the two go back and forth a lot, which keeps the session alive and moving ahead. Ballard is a veteran of animal themed movies and some of that knowledge is shared here, which is a most welcome notion. A series of featurettes have also been included, such an HBO behind the scenes special, an Operation Migration piece, and The Ultra Geese program. I wouldn’t call any of these featurettes in depth, but they combine to offer a wide glance at the events shown in the film, from both a cinematic and real life perspective. This disc also includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.