Plot: What’s it about?
This release marks the second volume of the unique series from FocusFilm titled The Challenge Of Flight. I have seen the first volume and was impressed with what FocusFilm had done and this next installment is much of the same. This is a series of documentaries on various aspects of aviation, which means all the footage you see is real and some of it is very interesting indeed. In this series you can see as new innovations are tested out, sometimes with disastrous results and even see some rare footage that’s presented for the first time ever. So needless to say, this one is a must see for fanatics of flight. Aside from flight buffs I think a rental would suffice in most cases, but don’t pass this series by without giving it a chance. As with most special interest titles this one is aimed at a certain audience, but I think even those casually interested in aviation will enjoy this series. If you decide to explore this disc and like what you see, make sure to pick up the first volume and look for more entries in the future.
Each disc in The Challenge Of Flight series contains two programs and each deals with a different aspect of military flight. So basically you’re getting two very nice documentaries on one disc, which stands as a good value in my mind. The two pieces on this release combine to run about an hour and a half, so these are substantial programs and not just short or fluff pieces. The quality of the content is very good and you’ll find a wealth of information within each of the episodes. The pieces are well put together and play much like you’d expect a Discovery Channel type documentary to go, which means professional and entertaining. These shows never become dull either, as music and some humorous clips get injected from time to time. So while these are meant more for educational or informative purposes, they also manage to be fun to watch. As for the disc itself, the production details are good and the menus are simple yet effective. The audio and video are more than adequate and I can’t find much to complain about with this release.
The first episode on this release is Eject! Eject!, which of course deals with the pilot’s escape mechanism and how it became so prominent. This piece features a wealth of footage I’ve never seen before and has some terrific in battle shots I loved. Some of this footage has never been seen before, which adds even more value to this presentation. You’ll follow the development of the ejection device and see some very cool training and experimental footage, which is very welcome. This piece also contains interviews with pilots and a few other surprises. If you ever wanted to know something about the ejection device, chances are it’s all in here. The second piece is Canopies Up!, which gives you the chance to see what air combat really looks and sounds like. Using plane mounted cameras and microphones, this piece will place you right in the thick of it all and give you a small taste of what it’s like up there. Another terrific and engrossing entry in the series to be sure.
Video: How does it look?
The Challenge Of Flight: Disc Two features two episodes which are presented in a full frame transfer, which retains the intended aspect ratio of the materials. The quality varies from clip to clip and since this is a documentary, the images aren’t as sharp or polished as a feature film. The older pieces show wear of course, but on the whole the images look as good as you could expect them to. I think FocusFilm has done the best they could considering the source materials, which is all I can ask for.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release uses a combination of mono and stereo to deliver audio and while the audio never becomes powerful, the included tracks more than handle the material. I’m some of the more intense sequences would sound great on a full surround option, but as it is this still sounds good. A good comparison would be other documentaries like the ones on television, as the sound is good but not that expansive. The music sounds clear and the sound effects come through well also. Thanks to clean vocals you’ll never miss a single word of dialogue, which is vital to the Canopies Up! episode.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release contains no bonus footage.