Airplane! appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image mostly worked fine for its age.
Sharpness usually seemed positive. Occasional shots came across as a bit tentative and soft, though, and I canít say the image often looked razor sharp. However, it mostly maintained positive definition.
I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and no edge haloes appeared. I did suspect some digital noise reduction, though, as grain levels varied. While the movie still showed grain, it felt as though a bit of DNR appeared.
Donít expect anything egregious, though, and the movie largely lacked print flaws. I saw a couple of small marks but nothing much.
Colors were pretty good. While not a particularly vibrant palette, the hues showed fairly positive range and seemed well-represented.
Black levels appeared reasonably deep and dark, and shadows were fine. A few low-light shots could be a little dense, but those werenít a substantial concern. I could live without the minor noise reduction, but this became a mostly positive presentation.
I felt pleased with the remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Except for the music, the soundfield usually stayed focused in the center channel.
The score spread nicely across the forward spectrum and provided solid stereo sound, and the surrounds also reinforced the music in an appropriate manner.
All dialogue seemed to come from the center, and the majority of the effects emanated from that channel as well. On a couple of occasions, I heard some effects pop up from the sides, and I even heard one or two times where split surrounds appeared, such as when the plane landed at the end. However, the soundfield remained modest and it worked well for the film.
Audio quality seemed more than acceptable. Speech sounded reasonably natural and distinct, with only a smidgen of edginess at times.
Effects seemed a bit restricted most of the time, though occasional louder scenes boasted some oomph. Those showed decent impact, and they didnít suffer from any notable distortion.
Music fared best throughout the soundtrack, as the score appeared nicely bright and brassy. Nothing here dazzled, but the track was good enough for an age-adjusted ďBĒ.
How does the 2020 Blu-ray compare to the original 2011 BD? Audio seemed clearer and less distorted, though both soundscapes demonstrated similar breadth and scope.
Visuals became a modest upgrade, as the 2020 disc looked a bit better defined, with fewer print flaws and stronger colors. However, it also showed apparent noise reduction absent from the 2011 release. Even with the latter choice, the 2020 BD felt superior, but donít expect an across-the-board upgrade.
The 2020 Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we start with an audio commentary from writers/directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker plus producer Jon Davison. All four sat together for this running, screen-specific chat that largely offers an interesting and compelling discussion of the film.
The commentary suffers from a surprising number of empty spots, and even when conversation occurs, the participants sometimes do little more than joke about how they have nothing to say. Despite those issues, much of the track provides a lot of really good facts and anecdotes about the movie.
These guys don't seem afraid to criticize the work and they also give us a fairly frank discussion of the reality behind their creation.
We hear a lot about the studio politics that affected Airplane! and they go into their inspirations for the movie and quite a few other topics. Honestly, I dig the commentary much more than I like the film itself, as the track becomes a lot of fun.
Another feature that runs alongside the film, the disc boasts an Isolated Score Track. This presents the music via Dolby Stereo audio. Itís too bad the disc doesnít offer lossless material, but fans may still enjoy this bonus.
Two new extras follow. Filmmaker Focus goes for eight minutes, 42 seconds and brings circa 2020 comments from Jerry Zucker, Abrahams and David Zucker.
They discuss general aspects of the production. This becomes a nice overview, though it doesnít bring out a lot of insights not found in the commentary.
In addition, we get a January 10, 2020 Q&A that also features Abrahams and the Zucker boys. From the audience, actor Al White also chimes in a few times.
ďQ&AĒ runs 34 minutes, 49 seconds and covers story and development, cast and performances, music, directing, and general notes. Some of this repeats material from the commentary, but we get a decent array of new thoughts in this fun chat.
The 2020 Blu-ray drops two components from the 2011 release: a trivia track and an interactive feature with branching video. Both were very good so their absence becomes a real negative.
Despite its status as a comedy classic, Airplane! does almost nothing for me. I find it to offer a witless and uninteresting program from start to finish. The Blu-ray provides dated but generally good picture and audio along with a small but useful set of supplements.
Compared to the 2011 release, the 2020 Blu-ray offers mildly superior picture and audio. However, it drops good bonus materials. If forced to choose between the two, Iíd opt for the 2011 version just due to its extras. If supplements donít matter to you, though, the 2020 is the way to go.
To rate this film visit the "Don't Call Me Shirley" Edition review of AIRPLANE!