Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: David McLean, Charles Bronson, Ralph Taeger, Brad Dexter, Kenneth Tobey
Director: Richard Donner
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Before Top Gun, Apollo 13 or The Right Stuff, this breathtaking, jet-fueled journey of high-altitude filmmaking blasted audiences from zero-G to 4,000 miles per hour with its thrilling tale of America's victory in the spac... more »
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Under-powered rocket picture...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 02/16/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Half plane, half rocket, the North American X-15 took test pilots to the edge of space for the first time, bridging the gap between air and space flight. This movie showcases the efforts of NASA and the X-15 group to get the experimental rocketplane in the air.Fans of the X-15 will be in heaven, as they are treated to a ton of footage of the X-15 in testing, accidents, and actual flight. But sadly, for the rest of us, the movie is a gigantic bore. The X-15 itself is the star of the movie, the humans being incidental, more or less cardboard cut-outs. The narration of Jimmy Stewart to limited to the opening and closing of the picture, while Mary Tyler Moore and the other officers' wives inexplicably vanish from the last quarter of the picture. Charles Bronson and the other leads are really pretty good, but despite their best efforts, it's really hard to care about them or the success of their plane. The film is strangely lacking in real emotional content. What emotion there is is contrived and has a forced, "by-the-numbers" quality. Without any real human drama, it almost feels as if the movie had been put together by a computer. As for the actual X-15 footage, it's hard even to get into that because almost all of the flight scenes are "stretched" to fit the widescreen format. As a result, all of the jets are twice as long and half as tall as they ought to look. Frankly, it's distracting, and so maybe the director should have opted for a smaller aspect ratio during filming so that the other footage would better match the X-15 footage.Basically, a toy model of a rocket would soar higher than this picture does... and that's without lighting the engines!"
MGM DVD doesn't help this turkey either...
David Hoggan | Milpitas, CA USA | 07/19/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Dick Donner's directorial debut is about as far from auspicious as you want to get and is no way evocative of the successes he would enjoy in later years with the likes of Superman and the Lethal Weapon series. This maudlin, mysoginist, cliche-ridden old-school melodrama is further marred by aspect ratio problems that have been explained sufficiently by other reviewers, so I won't get into that here--but what adds insult to injury is MGM DVD's hack mastering job. The studio didn't even bother to optimize the film for 16.9 televisions, which partially would have allowed viewers with 1.33 TVs to compensate for the aspect ratio problem by making an adjustment in their DVD player's display settings. Furthermore, with today's digital technology it would have been easy enough to correct the aspect ratio problem in a post house by either adjusting the stock footage to 2.35:1 by zooming in on it, or remastering the whole film at 16.9 by slicing off the edges of the footage that Donner shot. I would have preferred the latter approach as it would have sacrificed very little in terms of picture fidelity, and if this were a worthwhile film, I'd rip the DVD to my hard drive and do the scaling myself in Adobe AfterEffects. But, alas, I have a life and will leave this pursuit to only the most die-hard purists out there. Bottom line, MGM need to get a clue in regards to consistently formatting their legacy releases to 16.9, a practice they have yet to adapt. All they need to do is walk into any Good Guys store and notice that the vast majority of large TVs now take advantage of the wider aspect ratio."
About the aspect ratio problem
Serial Movie Buff | Paris, France | 02/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The aspect ratio issue addressed by other reviewers is genuine: stock NASA and USAF footage was massively used in this picture, but as this was shot in the standard aspect ratio of 1,37:1, it had to be stretched horizontally to match the 2,35:1 Panavision framing used for the rest of the movie. Hence the annoying distorsion that makes all aircraft look like some giant inadvertenly stamped his foot on them. Unfortunately, this is a flaw inherent to the movie itself, and the DVD is not to blame. The basic mistake was to shoot in widescreen a movie that relied so heavily on 'external' footage."
Please Fix The Anamorphic Stretch
Roger Mattson | Los Angeles, California | 02/17/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Being an aviation enthusiast, I welcome any DVD release pertaining to aviation. "X-15" is no exception, even though this picture leaves much to be desired. I am especially critical of the official US Air Force photography of the X-15, the B-52, and the F-100 and F-104 chase plane sequences. Originally shot in the "flat" format, then viewed with an anamorphic "scope" lens, the images are stretched, so that these sequences are very distracting. I saw this film in the theater, and it was equally distracting there. With a now very sucessful director like Richard Donner and a studio like MGM, you would have thought the DVD release could have been corrected. A true disappointment!"