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Fly Away Home(1996)
The soaring adventure of a 13-year-old girl and her estranged father who learn what family is all about when they adopt an orphaned flock of geese and teach them to fly! Starring Jeff Daniels, Anna Paquin and Dana Delaney.
For more about Fly Away Home and the Fly Away Home Blu-ray release, see Fly Away Home Blu-ray Review published by Greg Maltz on April 7, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Carroll Ballard
Writer: Robert Rodat
Starring: Anna Paquin, Jeff Daniels (I), Dana Delany, Terry Kinney, Holter Graham
» See full cast & crew
Fly Away Home Blu-ray Review
A heartwarming family film takes wing in 1080p with solid picture and sound quality.
Reviewed by Greg Maltz, April 7, 2009
Fly Away Home is one of those rare movies that strips away pretenses and armor, piercing right to the heart. It delivers a wholesome message for children, teens and adults alike with a lively story and good acting and production values. The film is a winner for Blu-ray release, boasting fantastic photography both from the air and the ground. Fly Away Home is an adventurous, active journey that focuses on a teenage girl's extraordinary efforts to rescue a family of geese against all the odds stacked against her. It rises above the typical family drama and into territory that can only be called inspired. The performances are solid, the story is heartwarming and the picture and sound quality are above average.
Amy Alden (Anna Paquin), a 13-year-old girl who has recently lost her mother, moves to Canada with her father, Thomas (Jeff Daniels). Life is sad and lonely for the adolescent after she moves in with Thomas in southern Ontario. One day, Amy finds goose eggs amongst trees uprooted by an over-eager developer. She gathers them, devises a crude incubation system, and when the eggs hatch her life is transformed. The arch of the story from a girl losing her mother to facing the responsibilities and challenges of motherhood (after a fashion) herself is illuminating. As the geese begin to get bigger, Amy is acutely aware that they too have lost their mother and never learned to fly. With the Canadian winter just around the corner and the geese unable to migrate south for the winter, the goslings are in trouble. This impending danger sets the stage for Amy and Thomas, who previously were on different wavelengths after the loss of Amy's mother, to bond around an elaborate scheme to teach the birds to fly, escorting them south with ultralight aircraft.
Behind Disney, Sony is the next-best studio when it comes to distributing films that give a wholesome message for family viewing. A mid-'90s release, Fly Away Home shows complex characters who learn lifelong lessons. Sony simultaneously releases on Blu-ray a documentary that could serve as a companion piece. Entitled Winged Migration, the documentary follows bird migrations through 40 countries on all seven continents. Those who have an interest in the geese featured in Fly Away Home as well as naturalists who enjoyed the Planet Earth series may want to learn more about "fowl behavior", and Winged Migration is a good journey. In the rush to release on Blu-ray hits like the Saw series and the gratuitous violence of Kill Bill, it is refreshing to see Sony put an emphasis on a quality film that's of interest to the whole family.
Fly Away Home Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fly Away Home was nominated for one Academy Award: best cinematography. The transfer to 1080p is done right and fleshes out the dramatic shots, gorgeous earthtones, vibrant skintones, detailed textures and dynamic contrast, allowing all the factors that led to its cinematography nomination to shine through on Blu-ray. While Fly Away Home is not perfect, featuring slight signs of black crush or artifacting during moments of intense motion, it is overall one of those high definition pictures that makes you sit back and marvel how you ever had the patience to watch films on NTSC. The contrast and definition combine to deliver impressive sense of depth, but textures seem the most visually appealing.
Watch the scene with the goslings at the breakfast table. The gentle down in the hatchlings appears so realistic you can almost reach out and touch the birds' soft feathers. I love how textures are rendered. It isn't a reference quality picture, but only the most stodgy videophiles will have any complaints. I would characterize it as an above average transfer. Even Sony's traditional fingerprints of heavy cyan and yellow show minimal signs on this one. The aerial shots of light aircraft have a rare immediacy that reminded me of a stripped down production approach to Martin Scorsese's treatment of Howard Hughes' flights in The Aviator. But of course that cinematography was on another level.
Fly Away Home Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is more lively than I expected from this mid-90s production. Featuring many touching interludes, the Mark Isham-composed score of Fly Away Home is spot on for a family feature. Extended treble cues add a touch of realism, especially in the sounds of the birds. Dialog is crisp and clear, with a euphonious midrange lending tonal accuracy for Anna Paquin's voice. The lush interludes are pumped up for the emotive aerial scenes. Surrounds and LFE channel play a minimal role, but frankly they would have been a distraction in a production like Fly Away Home. While the resulting track won't make you want to invite your buddies over to pound a six pack and show off your home theater system, it shows no signs of distortion and sounds pleasant and polite.
Fly Away Home Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The standout of the bonus content on Fly Away Home is the audio track featuring commentary by director Carroll Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. They describe in detail the challenges of filming the movie in Auckland, New Zealand, Baltimore, Maryland, Niagara Falls Air Force Base, New York, North Carolina, Toronto, Port Perry and Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. I enjoyed their commentary a great deal. Both are clearly filmmakers at the top of their game who knew what the movie demanded and used their skill to deliver. The three featurettes rounding out the other supplementary content were not as detailed as the commentary track, but will be worth checking out for fans of the movie.
Operation Migration: Birds of a Feather
The Ultra Geese Documentary
HBO Making of: Leading the Flock Featurette
Fly Away Home Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There is simply nothing negative to say about this Sony release. The film is wonderful, the transfer to 1080p is solid and the audio production is spot-on. Kudos to Sony for picking this Columbia Pictures title for release on Blu-ray from its immense catalog. About the only possible criticism is that the father played by Jeff Daniels teaches his young daughter to fly light aircraft, which shows questionable judgment. But it lends a sense of adventure and danger to the otherwise tame movie and there's no point in questioning the story on that level. I can unreservedly give Fly Away Home a solid recommendation for any Blu-ray library--especially for family viewing.
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Fly Away Home Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - April 7th - April 7, 2009
When making a film about a controversial subject, it is often difficult to represent the subject matter in a way that will appeal to general audiences. Tread too lightly on the subject, and the message can be lost or misunderstood; tread too heavy, and the message ...
• Winged Migration; Fly Away Home Announced for Blu-ray - January 26, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the two avian-inspired films 'Winged Migration' and 'Fly Away Home' to Blu-ray on April 7th. 'Winged Migration' was initially announced to retailers some time ago, but this time it gets an official ...
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