H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Blue Thunder [Blu-ray]


(John Badham, 1983)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures

Video: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:49:14.548

Disc Size: 32,914,023,430 bytes

Feature Size: 27,774,769,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.95 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 11th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1616 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1616 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
DUBs: Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1486 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1486 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English, English (SDH), French, none



• Audio Commentary with Director John Badham, Editor Frank Morriss, and Motion Control Supervisor Hoyt Yeatman
• “Ride With the Angels: Making Blue Thunder” Multi-Part Featurette (44:26)
• “The Special: Building Blue Thunder” Featurette (8:10)
• 1983 Promotional Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews

BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player)





Description: The air above Los Angeles has become a battle ground in this explosive action thriller. Roy Scheider ('Jaws') stars as Frank Murphy, a courageous and honorable Los Angeles police officer who is chosen to test run Blue Thunder, a high-tech experimental attack helicopter that comes complete with listening devices, camera lenses, and computer files. While flying Blue Thunder, Murphy and his partner, Lymangood (Daniel Stern) discover that the government intends to use the helicopter for corrupt crowd control and surveillance. The top- secret operation is being run by a sinister colonel (Malcolm McDowell, 'A Clockwork Orange', 'Heroes'), who will stop at nothing to keep the devious military conspiracy a secret. In an effort to expose the covert military operation Murphy decides to "borrow" Blue Thunder, flying against military and police aircrafts on a death-defying flight. Superb special effects and daredevil stunts combine with breathtaking cinematography to create a dizzying battle for justice. Catch you later.



The Film:

Blue Thunder was Badham’s best action film. Although Dan O’Bannon was vocally unhappy at the way Badham dumbed down his script. The more serious elements – such as O’Bannon originally intending Murphy to be a Vietnam veteran – and the political ramifications have been junked in favor of bulleting action. But that said, Badham drives the film with a solid and gritty punch. The scenes with the helicopter demonstrating its capabilities and in action are well-achieved and the nighttime sequences with the copter silently spying on nude aerobicists and office windows take on a shadowy excitement. Badham displays his true intent – of creating some airborne equivalent of Mad Max 2 (1981) – at the climax, which becomes an exciting all-out aerial chase through the downtown skies of L.A.. But here the bravura of the stunt people takes over from the story and characters altogether – an ordinary housewife improbably becomes a high-speed stunt-driver and fighter planes get loose over downtown LA. But one cannot deny that the film proves an exhilarating ride.

Excerpt from Moria's SF, Horror and Fantasy Film Review located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Blue Thunder looks okay on Blu-ray from Sony but shows its 25-year+ age looking a bit faded with some visible speckles. You can definitely tell this is hi-def though and there is some grain and decent, if not always stellar, detail. Darker scenes tend to show some noise. This is dual-layered with the film taking up almost 28 Gig but there is not a preponderance of depth. I suspect it looks as good as it ever will - I can't see anyone doing too much more to this particular film for home theater presentation.

















Audio :

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio at 1616 kbps supports the film well enough but is not as dynamic of responsive as more recent tracks. Bass is healthy but not overwhelming and there are some functional separations that seem to lack real depth. Expectantly, the film is rife with 'chopper' sounds. Arthur B. Rubinstein's score is likewise adept in building tension in supporting the film's heavy action sequences. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide making me suspect it is probably the same disc sold internationally.



Extras :

There are some pretty good supplements although, I believe, duplicated from the 2006 Special Edition DVD. We start with an audio commentary with Director John Badham, Editor Frank Morriss, and Motion Control Supervisor Hoyt Yeatman. It gives a good overview of production and similar details. “Ride With the Angels: Making Blue Thunder” is a 3-part featurette running just shy of 45-minutes and fills in even more details on the extensive production costs and planning. There are trailers, previews and a short promotional piece from 83'. A solid package of extras for this film. This disc is BD-Live enabled (requiring a Profile 2.0 player) for those who wish to indulge.



I have to say that I think this film is really very poor. Effects have definitely lessened their impact with age and the dialogue is just plain 'goofy' at times. Another problem that I had was the lack of continuity in the scene-to-scene darkness - it moves from dusk to daylight to night without seeming to care that it fits together from one segment of the plot to the next.  At least Sony aren't gouging with the price on Blu-ray which may appear reasonable but, although there are some positives, I still wouldn't bother - it's my opinion Blue Thunder is a turkey. 

Gary Tooze

August 6th, 2009




About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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