“I’m a national security secret…”
As a kid, there’s truthfully only a small selection of films I remember watching countless times and Flight of the Navigator was definitely one of them. As any young girl or boy, the dream of Alien ships, adventure and random escapes was high in my imagination – it might still be – but it’s still surprising the film is over 30 years old, after originally being released in 1987.
With supervision from Director Randal Kleiser, this thoughtful and exciting classic 80s sci-fi adventure has received a brand new 4K scan and restoration for release, thanks to Second Sight Films. Arriving in a classy, rigid slipcase with new art from Rich Davies, this version of Flight of the Navigator also comes with a 100-page book, complete with Kleiser’s original storyboard, a new essay from Kevin Lyons, original production notes and a whole host of behind-the-scenes photography.
Despite having caught moments on TV over the years, it has been a while since I watched from start to finish but, I was happy to say, my memory of the big moments still resides somewhere in the old grey matter. The film begins in 1978 and opens with an overly long dog/Frisbee montage that initially makes the latter appear to be flying saucers. This is an early foresight on the nature of UFO’s and it’s given an extra whack of ‘something mysterious is coming’ as a blimp slowly flies overhead and a large shadow creeps across the crowds, who are seemingly also frozen in time by the dirigible.
What makes Flight of the Navigator stand out more than other Sci-Fi of the era might be down to its Disney budget, which means it looks pretty good in an era that could make or break any title in the genre. The film also doesn’t mess about with dragging out the story which follows 12-year-old David Freeman, played by Joey Cramer, who’s knocked out whilst looking for his brother in the woods but when he awakes, he heads home and it’s no longer his home, his family isn’t there and something mysterious has happened… he’s actually been missing for eight years.
After being reunited with his (now) much older family, the unusual time-delay gathers the attention of NASA, who assuming something fishy is going on and, of course, want to study his brain. After a rather straightforward discussion with his family, they somehow cart him off to their labs 1: Without his parents, 2: Lock him a room but 3: Give him a load of cool stuff, so it doesn’t really matter. That being said, he does also meet a young Sarah Jessica Parker, who’ll help him escape to the secret spaceship that’s been talking to him, in his head. Once inside the ship, hidden in a hanger at NASA, we meet ‘MAX’, the computer ‘life’ on the silver MOMA-like ship voiced by Paul Reubens, and thus starts the journey of finding his way to back to his past
A score from Alan Silvestri keeps it mostly modern, and occasionally The X-Files-esque, as a sense of mystery and unknown is evoked. Obviously, from my younger perspective to now, there’s a deeper insight into family and questions of belonging, plus a classic Spielberg vibe on the bigger, wider scenes as Kleiser riffs on the essence of E.T. and Close Encounters but FOTN is still its own story, with young Cramer offering a balance of likeability and kid-like wonder.
Kleiser also encourages clever camera work throughout, there’s a strong use of reflections to widen the scope of the scene and this offers variety to the audience and the characters. With a co-starring cast of the likes of the legendary Veronica Cartwright (who plays David’s Mother) and Matt Alder (His brother Jeff), there’s also depth in the story, which keeps the connection – even in a film that uses a smart blend of modern animation and almost flawless flight visuals.
Yes, this is nostalgia at its finest but it’s well achieved and this is a fine restoration with a host of extras to explore, full list below. Throw in good performances from the cast, well-aged graphics, a strong dose of the feel-good factor and you’ve got everything you need to take you back.
Flight of the Navigator, as a limited edition Blu-ray edition, is out now from Second Sight Films.
Order now: https://amzn.to/2ZrvMZq
- Brand New Second Sight 4K Scan and Restoration supervised by Director Randal Kleiser
- Directing the Navigator – New Interview With Randal Kleiser
- Producing the Navigator – New Interview With Dimitri Villard
- Playing The Navigator – New interview with Joey Cramer
- Mother of The Navigator – New interview with Veronica Cartwright
- Brother of The Navigator – New interview with Matt Adler
- From Concept to Creation: The Special Effects of Flight of the Navigator – New interviews with Jeff Kleiser, Randal Kleiser and Edward Eyth
- Audio Commentary with Randal Kleiser and Executive Producer Jonathan Sanger
- Reversible sleeve with new and original artwork
- Optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing