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Airplane II: The Sequel(1982)
There's a mad bomber on board, the first lunar shuttle is about to self-destruct, the engines aren't working and - worst of all - the flight crew discovers they are completely out of coffee! It's the high-flying lunacy of AIRPLANE! all over again as Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty fly totally out of the ozone to re-create their hilarious original roles. The crew of crazies includes Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges, William Shatner, Chad Everett, Sonny Bono, Raymond Burr and many others. Can Hays save the day again - without caffeine? Fasten your seatbelt for a ride you'll never forget - AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL.
For more about Airplane II: The Sequel and the Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray release, see Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on October 7, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, William Shatner, Kent McCord (I)
Director: Ken Finkleman
» See full cast & crew
Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray Review
Don't Call Them Abrahams or Zucker
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, October 7, 2013
Comics can be a rancorous lot. When the writing/directing team of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker (sometimes known as "ZAZ") decided they didn't want to make a sequel to their 1980 hit Airplane!, they also agreed that no one else should make one. Unfortunately for ZAZ, Paramount owned the rights and hired Canadian writer Ken Finkelman to continue the saga of star-crossed Ted Striker and Elaine Dickinson in the same style of Borscht Belt standup cinema that ZAZ had first created. (Finkelman received uncredited writing assistance from future Simpsons producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss.) Continuing Airplane! wasn't a particularly tall order. The film's rat-tat-tat profusion of sight gags, one-liners, non sequiturs and movie parodies was original, but the jokes themselves were not. ZAZ created something new by pitching gags, often several at once, so fast that it didn't matter if one fell flat, because another was already on the way. Once seen, the style was easily imitated—and still is to this day, though rarely as well as Finkelman did in Airplane II: The Sequel. Still, ZAZ would have none of it. Shortly before the film's release, their PR agency contacted all the nation's major film critics to advise them that ZAZ had nothing to do with the sequel. This less-than-subtle attempt to poison the reception largely worked. Roger Ebert, who had praised the first film, declared the second a "retread" without a "story". Either Ebert missed the love triangle, the kickback scandal and the reconciliation with an old war buddy, or he'd managed to find some deeper narrative in the first film that I've somehow missed in dozens of viewings. After the ZAZ publicity stunt, reviews were generally negative and the box office was so weak that Paramount abandoned plans for Airplane III, of which it had previously been so certain that an announcement was included at the end of Airplane II. (It still appears in the version on this Blu-ray, although it has been removed from some video editions).
Once again, a flight full of innocent passengers is headed into life-threatening peril, only this time it's the lunar shuttle, Mayflower One, commanded by our old friend, Captain Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves). The flight crew includes First Officer Dunn (James A. Watson, Jr.) and Navigator Dave Unger (Kent McCord), and the confusions of Oveur-Unger-Dunn are just the beginning of the "who's on first?" variations that replay throughout Airplane II. Also along for the ride is the ultra-macho Simon Kurtz (Chad Everett), who looks great in a uniform but doesn't seem to have any function other than to be the fiancé of computer officer Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), who dumped Ted Striker (Robert Hays) after he crashed a prototype of the shuttle during a test flight. The company blamed Striker's negligence and had him committed to the Ronald Reagan Home for the Mentally Ill ("We Cure People the Old Fashioned Way") after a rigged trial presided over by a judge who looks suspiciously like Perry Mason (probably because he's played by Raymond Burr). Most damning of all was the testimony of Striker's psychiatrist, Dr. Stone (John Vernon), whose idea of mental illness is anyone who complains about his bill. In fact, Striker found serious problems with the shuttle's manufacture, a situation suspected by the hard-boiled head of the ground crew, the Sarge (Chuck Connors). When Striker sees a headline announcing the shuttle launch, he breaks out of the asylum (bypassing Jack Jones singing the theme from Love Boat) and buys a shuttle ticket. Sure enough, Mayflower One's cut-rate wiring overheats, causing its sophisticated computer, ROK (voiced by director Finkelman), to kill or incapacitate most of the crew. The sole exception is Simon Kurtz, who reveals his true cowardice by turning to Jello (literally) and fleeing in an escape pod. Just as over Chicago in Airplane! (but will Striker ever be over Chicago?), it's up to Striker and Elaine to land the crippled shuttle safely at lunar base Alpha Beta. (Anyone old enough will remember the name as that of a southwestern grocery chain long since acquired and rebranded.) Guiding them from Mission Control is their crazy old controller, Steve McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges), hauled out of mothballs for the occasion and still tormented by useless retorts from air controller Johnny, now known as "Jacobs" (the inspired Stephen Stucker, who does double duty as a court reporter with a mean Ray Charles impression at Striker's trial). Finkelman brings back as many popular bit players as he can fit in. The Krishnas make a brief appearance, although only one of them (David Leisure) is an Airplane! veteran. Lee Bryant's Mrs. Hammen still needs to be slapped by everyone in sight to prevent her hysterics. Ann Nelson repeats her role as a sweet elderly lady who makes the deadly mistake of listening to Striker's troubles, and Al White returns as one of the "jive dudes" to be a character witness at Striker's trial (though admittedly he isn't nearly as funny without Barbara Billingsley as his translator). Leslie Nielsen's Dr. Rumack is surely missed—I should probably phrase it differently—but Nielsen was off making Police Squad for ZAZ. Finkelman does have a few fine additions besides the Sarge, Dr. Stone and the Judge. The first is Sonny Bono's Joe Seluchi, who buys a bomb at the airport store and carries a suitcase studded with stickers from garden spots like Nagasaki and Dresden. His presence on the shuttle actually pays off in a late plot development. My personal favorite, though, is Buck Murdock, commander of lunar base Alpha Beta, played by William Shatner in full-on Kirk mode. One of the few survivors of Striker's ill-fated wartime raid over Macho Grande, Murdock despises the pilot but finds that fate has brought them together again. As he races around the station barking contradictory orders and "shh'ing" the sliding doors to sound like those on the Enterprise, Shatner does the best self-parody of his career (and that includes his appearances on Saturday Night Live). He gives the whole last act of Airplane II a jolt of electricity, just like the machine with red lights that serves no purpose but shows up in numerous sci-fi films, including The Wrath of Khan and, yes, Airplane II.
Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cinematographer Joseph F. Biroc shot Airplane! and returned for the sequel. Somehow it seems appropriate that the cameraman who lensed two sendups of disaster films was also the DP on one of the greatest movie parodies of all time, Blazing Saddles , while sharing an Oscar for photographing one of the Seventies' greatest disaster films, The Towering Inferno. Biroc had worked in both movies and TV, and he could suit his photography to any style. For Airplane II, he continued the same look established by ZAZ in the first film, which was essentially a TV style of bright lighting, an ordinary color palette and heavy reliance on close-ups and medium shots. Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray of this Paramount film delivers a faithful rendition of Airplane II's style, very much on a par with Paramount's previous Blu-ray of Airplane! Blacks are solid, detail is well-rendered, grain is natural-looking and there is no evidence of filtering, artificial sharpening or other inappropriate digital tampering. With no extras on the disc, the average bitrate of 25.93 Mbps is sufficient to avoid any compression artifacts.
Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's original mono soundtrack has been formatted as lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0, with identical left and right front channels. It's a serviceable affair with clear dialogue, well-rendered (though obviously cartoonish) effects and a great parody score composed of Elmer Bernstein's cues from the first film, plus additional music by arranger Richard Hazard. Key themes from the original Battlestar Galactica are heard at the opening and elsewhere during the film, and they complement the comic style better than any attempt to compose a new heroic theme in the style of John Williams' Star Wars score.
Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The disc contains no extras.
Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One indication, at least to me, that Finkelman aptly captured the anarchic spirit of the first Airplane! is that I often can't recall whether a favorite line occurred in the first film or the second. Many of Airplane!'s running gags keep running well into the sequel, and I find them just as funny there. The sequel isn't as original as the first, but few films are. It's too bad that Airplane II remains such a poor stepchild in Paramount's catalog that not even the extra scenes used in TV broadcasts have been included here, because some of them are quite good (especially the discovery of McCroskey in the asylum in scuba gear, where he thinks he's Lloyd Bridges). But the Blu-ray treatment is capable and won't disappoint fans. Recommended.
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Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Airplane II: The Sequel Blu-ray - June 12, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of writer/director Ken Finkleman's Airplane II: The Sequel, starring Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Chad Everett, Peter Graves, Rip Torn, Chuck Connors, Stephen Stucker, Wendy Phillips ...
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