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Flight of the Navigator (1986) [UK] - Blu-ray Review

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Flight of the Navigator - Blu-ray Review

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3 Stars

After E.T. stormed the box office and captured the hearts of about every kid in existence at the time, studios predictably tried their own riffs on the child/alien combo film with varying degrees of success. Setting aside any cynical viewpoint as to why the Eighties produced such a glut of this type of film, there were actually a couple of decent entries that, while never coming close to capturing the magic of Spielberg’s film, found a worthy place in that generation’s heart as well. The Last Starfighter was one, and Flight of the Navigator, coming four years after E.T. phoned home, was another. But does it hold up 25 years later?

The dramatic premise of this film is a bloody good one: David, a normal 12 year old boy, falls and knocks himself unconscious the 4th of July while picking up his little brother. When he awakens and goes home he finds strangers living in his house and his family nowhere to be seen. David, still 12 years old, has been gone for eight years. When being tested at a local hospital, David demonstrates abilities beyond comprehension that are connected to a strange craft found by NASA. As a NASA doctor tries to uncover the secrets to this mystery, and David and his family try to cope with what’s happened, the craft and the boy unite. What follows makes David question if he really belongs to the world anymore.

There was great emotion to be mined from this story that is more miss than hit. While Joey Cramer, the actor who played David, effortlessly conveys his character’s mixed emotions throughout the film, the script tends to dumb down or go for clichéd moments that no actor can rise above. The family, including Alien’s Veronica Cartwright, are really nothing more than reactionary characters; the scientist is as clichéd as the script; and the voice of ‘Max’ the alien who abducts David, becomes a jarring derivative performance of Pee Wee Herman from Paul Reubens himself. Had they focused more on the connection between David and Max, and introduced some conflict over his abduction, it may have resonated a whole lot more. Instead, the film is played light all the way through. There is nothing particularly threatening or compelling sprung out of a story ripe with possibilities. Instead, this truly is a Disney product that soft peddles everything and loses its power for it.

This was the first 35mm movie to utilize ‘environmental mapping’, which allowed the CGI chrome ship to masterfully blend in with its surroundings, and, although there is some dating to the compositing, it still holds up pretty well, even by today’s standards.

There is a sense of fun and strong enough premise to resonate well with children and adults. This is a well-made, well-paced film, containing some talented performers. It lacks the charisma of some of its peers, and has some weak scripting, but all that aside it’s still a fun time for the kids, even 25 years later. And it’s obviously still loved, because, you guessed it, there’s a remake in development.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Flight of the Navigator - Blu-ray ReviewClassification: U.
Runtime: 90 mins.
Director: Randal Kleiser
: Michael Burton
Joey Cramer; Paul Reubens; Veronica Cartwright; Sarah Jessica Parker, Matt Adler
Genre: Family | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Tagline: Come along on the greatest adventure of the summer!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You crashed while looking at FLOWERS?"
Buena Vusta Pictures
Official Site:

Release Date:
July 30, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 19, 2012

Synopsis: In 1978, a boy is moved 8 years into the future and has an adventure with the alien ship that is responsible for that.

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Flight of the Navigator - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 Stars

2 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 19, 2012 (December 18 - United States)
Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired
: English
: English
Dolby Digital stereo
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Region Encoding: Region-free

This is not the greatest looking blu ray, to be honest. Very little has been done to spruce up the film. Detail and colour are stronger than the DVD, flesh tones are natural, blacks and contrast improved, but no effort has been made to keep consistency between shots, especially with grain. Some night shots look like they were shot through a snowy Seventies TV, while others look like they were shot last year. The film looks soft, but that would have more to do with the cinematography of the time, and compositing is REALLY obvious in effects shots. Sound, which appears to be a Dolby Digital stereo mix (and not very well listed on the cover) is front heavy and does the film no favours. Special features are limited to a director’s commentary (unpreviewed).



  • Feature-length commentary track with Director Randal Kleiser

Special Features:


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