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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Flight of the Navigator (1986)

With the announcement of a future remake, the Nerds decide to go on a nostalgia trip! Flight of the Navigator (1986) is up for review! How does it fair?

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerd-o-sphere.  This week, Patrick and Dave jump into the way-back machine and review the Disney cult classic kids’ movie Flight of the Navigator

  • The Flick:  Flight of the Navigator
  • What’s it About: In 1978, 12 year old David Freeman is sent by his parents to pick up his younger brother from a neighbor’s house.  Walking in a nearby wood along the way home, David accidentally falls into a small valley, hits his head and loses consciousness.  When David awakens, he finds himself in the year 1986, although he hasn’t aged a day and feels like he has been gone only a few hours.  Meanwhile, NASA has discovers a strange space ship that has crashed on the outskirts of David’s hometown.  As doctor’s try to determine what happened to David, they stumble upon a strange connection between David and the ship.  This connection holds the key to the mystery surrounding David’s disappearance.
  • Metacritic Score: 64

The Nerds’ Take on Flight of the Navigator (1986):

Dave:  Recently, Disney announced plans to remake Flight of The Navigator. It was an announcement that had one Patrick O’Dowd very excited. I, on the other hand, came to realize that much to my shame I had never seen the movie. I had certainly heard about it enough but, for one reason or another, had never seen it. This week seemed like a perfect time to rectify this problem.

Flight of the Navigator is a Sci-Fi based Family movie that really captures the essence of the 80’s very well. In 1978, 12-year-old David Freeman has ventured into the woods to find his younger brother Jeff. Jeff scares David and takes off running. David hears something and decides to investigate. He comes upon a small ravine and as he looks over the edge he falls. The fall knocks him out. He comes to and heads home. It is here that things get very interesting though as there are different people living in David’s former home. He is picked up by the police who soon discover that David has been missing for eight years and was presumed dead. Although he was gone for eight years, David has not aged a day. He is reunited with his family, but they have aged normally. Naturally, this time paradox grabs the attention of NASA, who is already on high alert because they have recovered an alien craft that crashed into some power lines.

David is taken to a NASA holding facility where numerous tests are run upon him. They soon discover that his mind is filled with a staggering amount of information that a 12-year-old boy has no earthly business knowing. We then discover that David was not so much abducted as he was borrowed by Trimaxion, the controller of the alien ship, who soon becomes known as Max for short. Max explains to David that he frequently borrows creatures from across the cosmos for a variety of purposes but always travels back in time to return these other creatures to the exact moment in time when they were taken. Max could not do this with David due to the dangers that time-travel would present to the human body. Max also explains that because humans only use 10% of their brains, he and the other denizens of the planet Phaelon filled the rest of David’s brain with all sorts of information. Max now has to retrieve that information to fulfil his mission. During this mind transfer, Max acquires some of David’s more human characteristics and ends up being a quite funny companion. David, meanwhile, just wants to go home. Once he gets home though, he realizes he will forever be pursued by NASA as a guinea pig and he says goodbye to his family to leave for Phaelon with Max. En route though, Max tells David he has to time-travel to return the other creatures on the ship to their proper timeline. David makes the choice to take a chance that he will survive time-travel so he can be returned to 1978. David survives the journey and rejoins his family in 1978, a lot wiser and more appreciative of the life he nearly lost.

It is all enormous amounts of fun and heart with just enough Sci-Fi to really keep you interested. There are some loosely based physics principals in play here, along with a nod to the Theory of Relativity. But it never comes close to overwhelming the plot. This is, after all, primarily a kid’s movie. David’s story is enormously endearing and it is so very easy to empathize with his plight here. What would any of us do if the world around us had aged 8 years, but we had not? It is a fascinating paradox and Flight of the Navigator handled the conundrum excellently. The relationship between David and Max, and how it evolves, is very enjoyable. The best part for me was seeing David’s relationship with his younger brother Jeff and how that all comes full circle. Before his “abduction” David and Jeff despise each other. After David’s disappearance and return though, he and Jeff become as tight as brothers can be and it is Jeff who helps David find his way, in more ways than one, by the end of everything. There are so many places in this movie where you just feel warm and fuzzy inside, which is exactly how it was meant to make you feel.

Now, not everything is great. Max is voiced by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman. When Max acquires some of David’s more human characteristics, the Pee Wee Herman comes out in force and is a bit too prevalent. I never liked Pee Wee Herman so maybe that’s just a me thing. The creatures and puppetry involved will likely not blow you away either but was fine, all things considered. Overall, the special effects are good but not great, although it should be noted that this was one of the first movies to use CGI. The cast is also quite good. Joey Cramer is fantastic as David and delivers a truly memorable performance. Howard Hesseman is also very good as Dr. Louis Faraday. We also get an appearance from a very young Sarah Jessica Parker as Carolyn, who takes a liking to David and, inadvertently, helps him escape. Except for Reubens, the rest of the cast is not nearly as well-known but they deliver a very good performance across the board.

After the bad taste left in my mouth after watching Malignant last week, Flight of the Navigator was a joy to watch. It is enormously fun, tremendously heart-warming, has just enough Sci-Fi to make it really interesting, and is buoyed by some excellent performances, especially from Joey Cramer. I am very glad I finally got around to seeing this. It is not perfect, but it’s quasi cult-classic status is very well deserved. I will absolutely be watching the reboot when it comes out. This is one I can absolutely recommend.

Dave’s Rating:  4.0/5.0

Patrick:  I have a brief story for you, noble reader.  I couldn’t make this past week’s recording of “Bandwagon Nerds.”  So, as I listened this week, like many of you I hope, I was stunned when the conversation turned to Flight of the Navigator and that of the four Nerds present, only PC Tunney had seen the movie.  This was an outrage I could not allow to stand, and thus, at least the lawyer Dave Ungar will have seen this classic 80’s kids film.  PC Tunney talked on the show about how he forced his parents to pay all of the late fees at Blockbuster for this movie.  I was right there with him.  In fact, I love this movie so much, it was the first anything I streamed when Disney+ went live two years ago.  I was thrilled to see that the movie holds up really, really well as it tells the tale of a boy and the unlikely friendship he forms with an alien spacecraft.

The movie begins in 1978 and introduces the audience young David Freeman and his family enjoying the Fourth of July.  That evening, David is sent to meet his brother Jeff and bring him home from a neighbor’s house.  Along the way, David is walking through a nearby wood when he falls into a ravine, hits his head and loses consciousness. When David wakes up he returns home to find strangers living in his house with no idea who David is or where his family could be.  In the custody of police, David is reunited with his family and he learns that he was reported missing eight years ago.  Yet, while time has passed on Earth, David has not aged at all.  At the same time of David’s return, NASA discovers a mysterious silver spacecraft on the outskirts of a city.  The ship is impregnable, but can be moved.  Lead NASA scientist Dr. Louia Faraday, directs the team to take the ship to a warehouse at NASA for study.

As David is being studied by doctors to determine what happened to him to keep him from aging, they stumble upon a strange image produced in a computer by David’s brain: it is an image of the recently discovered ship.  David also confides inJeff that something is calling to him, but he does not know what it is.  David’s doctor’s report their findings to NASA and Dr. Faraday asks for 48 hours to research the connection between David and the Spacecraft.  David’s parents reluctantly agree.  As Dr. Faraday and NASA scientists attempt to question David about his accident and read his brainwaves, they discover strange star charts stored in David’s brain and something communicates with the scientists telling them David has been on a planet called Phelon.  Before thet can learn more David becomes upset and runs off.  Later that evening, the voice in David’s head returns and guides David to the hanger with the ship.  Once there the ship reveals itself to be the one communicating with David.  After a brief encounter with NASA scientists and security, David boards the ship and it takes them out of the hanger.

Once away from the hanger the ship reveals that it was sent various worlds from Phelon in order to stud other forms of life.  When Pheleans learned that humans do not fully use their brain, they fill Davi’s with information about the universe, including star charts.  The ship tells David that it inadvertently crashed into a power plant which wiped its star charts from it’s computers, so the ship needs the star charts in David’s head to help it return to Phelon, hence David is the Ship’s navigator.  David agrees on the condition that he be returned to his parents and not to NASA.  This leads to an adventure as the two try to evade NASA and get the ship, eventually named Max, back to Phelon.

That is easily the longest summary I’ve ever written for a Nerd Review, but that should give you an idea who much I love this movie.  So let me get to why I love this movie.  It begins and ends with the friendship developed between David and the spaceship Max.  Like many other stories, the pair begin the tale somewhat at odds.  This is mostly Due to David being rightfully angry that he was plucked from his family and cannot be returned to them in 1978 for fear by Max that his frail human body could not survive time travel.  Yet, as David, played by young Joey Kramer, and Max, voiced beautifully by Paul Reubens, work together they form a genuine bond.  This bond is mostly formed through David teaching Max what it means to be human, specifically, what it means to have emotions such humor.  As a result, when you reach the film’s climax, Max and David’s bond inform the course of the film’s finale.

The other reason I loved this film growing up and still do today is the ship.  There’s no denying it, the ship is really stinking cool.  To begin with, the ship (Max) is one of the first times I can remember outside of The Last Starfighter where CGI was heavily used.  The special effects team really wanted to show the capabilities of their technology, the ship changes shape many times during the movie and the special effects crew do a masterful job manipulating the environment to present the illusion the ship is real.  The first scene where Max takes off from the hanger and blows the roof off of a shed, looks incredibly realistic.  The timing of the animation and effects are perfect.  Couple these effects with what still looks like a futuristic craft in 2021 and you have one engaged Patrick.  Add Paul Reubens voicing Max and the ship isn’t just cool, it’s fun too.  You know why?  Because Reubens uses the Pee Wee Herman voice for the final 30 minutes of the film, but not as a gimmick.  The voice is an evolution of Max as it learns about the lighter side of being human.  It’s brilliant and still spoke to my child some 40 years after debuting in theaters.

The movie’s runtime is brief, but Disney really went out it’s way to jam pack a great deal of fun in Flight of the Navigators runtime.  If you are looking for a little bit of nostalgic Sci-Fi you can watch as a family, Flight of the Navigator is a surefire hit.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Patrick’s Rating: 4.88/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Flight of the Navigator (1986): 4.44/5.0


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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Injustice (2021)

We have another Nerds review, and this one on the normally vaunted DC Animated Universe! Dave and Rey decide to tackle Injustice!

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We have another Nerds review, and this one on the normally vaunted DC Animated Universe! Dave and Rey decide to tackle Injustice!

It’s a fairly fresh release so there aren’t a ton of fleshed out grades on the usual sites. Makes things more interesting to see how our Nerds rated it!

  • Metacritic: N/A
  • IMDB: 6.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: Critic – N/A% / Audience – 43%

Nerd’s Take on Injustice (2021)

Dave

Ever since I was a kid, Superman has been my favorite super hero. Over the years, my love for the Man of Steel has been met with some very tepid reactions from non-Superman fans. I have heard the same tired arguments time and time again: He’s boring; He’s too much of a boy scout; He’s too over-powered; He’s too God-like; etc., rinse, repeat. I recognize that, yes, perhaps Superman is the ultimate white-meat babyface ever. I also feel like his harshest critics do not understand what makes him so great. See, it’s not that Superman is faster than a speeding bullet that makes him great. Its not that he is more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound either. What makes Superman great is that although he has incredible powers, he never uses them to his own advantage or to oppress anyone, even though he easily could. He could take over the world if he desired and there would be very little anyone could do to stop him. It is his restraint and morals despite this immense power that makes him so great.

But what if that were not the case? What if Superman was pushed too far and decided to turn his back on all of his ideals, turn his back on mankind, betray his friends, and became the polar opposite of what he has stood for for nearly a century? What if everyone who complained about Superman being too much of a goody-goody got their wish and a darker and quasi-evil version of Superman emerged? The newest DC Animated film, Injustice, explores this question, and so much more.

Injustice is based on the extremely popular video-game series that debuted in 2013. The games were then adapted to graphic novels and the story-line exploded in popularity. DC’s latest animated movie captures much of what Injustice is all about and what makes it so captivating. In a nutshell, here is the plot/premise: The Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, his unborn child, and 11 million people in Metropolis. It is an unfathomable loss and it pushes Superman well past his breaking point. He executes The Joker then, with Wonder Woman staunchly by his side, announces to the world that what happened to Metropolis can never happen again. Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Hawkman, and others then set about disarming the world and quickly ending any and all military conflicts across the globe. As this totalitarian state evolves, many other members of the JLA oppose Superman, feeling that it is wrong for him to impose his will upon the world and ignoring any and all laws and accords that might exist. Aquaman leaves the JLA to go back to Atlantis vowing to not yield to Superman’s rule. Green Lantern is called back to Oa by the Guardians of the Universe. It is Batman, Green Arrow, and a revenge motivated (sort of) Harley Quinn who become Superman’s primary opponents. Batman is every bit as stubborn as Superman in his own beliefs that the law must be upheld. It is more than a bit ironic that one of the biggest vigilantes in the history of DC becomes the poster-child for upholding the same laws that he routinely violated over his career. Suffice it to say that with the big two of DC opposing each other, shit gets real very quickly. Both sides suffer losses, especially Batman, who is likely brought back from his own breaking point by Catwoman.

So, I do not want to spoil this for anyone because I really feel it is well worth your money and time investment. What I will say is that DC does not make bad animated movies. More often than not, they are very good to great. Make no mistake, Injustice is definitely on the great side of that ledger. It is an enormously powerful movie that will definitely elicit an emotional reaction from you, regardless of which side of the fence you find yourself on as far as support. What Injustice does so well is it makes you feel terrible for Superman at the beginning, no matter if you are a fan of his or not. Then, even if you are not a fan of his, and have always clamored for an edgier Man of Steel, you will reach a point where you will realize that this version of Superman is terrifying in his own right and has gone too far. If you are like me and love Superman, watching our heroes’ steady decline is nothing short of agonizing. For all involved, there are gut punches along the way, irrespective of the tragedy of the first 10 minutes. Some beloved heroes die. I will say no more than that. By the time everything is resolved (if you can call it that) the toll for everyone is enormous and you know that the world will never be the same. From a world-changing standpoint, Injustice holds its own with movies like Flashpoint Paradox, and that is saying something.

The movie is not perfect. It strays from the source material in a few questionable places. This is nothing new for DC animation. Most of the time, it works. Less often, such as with The Killing Joke, it doesn’t. Injustice falls somewhere in between the two extremes. It is easy to understand why this was done but some of it leaves a bit to be desired. On the other hand, I read some other reviews that were critical that Injustice crammed too much into it at the expense of character development. I don’t buy that at all. We are, after all, talking about some of the most well-known characters in the history of comics. How much development do we really need at this point? With that being said, there is a lot going on here and, on occasion, the story seems to suffer a bit. But not really enough to take away from how excellent the movie is on other fronts.

The timing of Injustice, coming just as Marvel’s What If came to an end seems to be more than just a coincidence. Injustice is a massive exploration into a DC version of a What If type of situation. It is clearly not canon, but is clearly based off of canon. It explores a possible alternate reality where if just one variable or another is flipped, the consequences are devastating. It asks and answers the question: What if Superman went bad? It is very dark and there is not much hope to be found in the movie. There is no happy ending to be found. In the end, everyone loses to some extent. That sounds extremely bleak and it is. But it is one of the most powerful super-hero-based stories you will ever see brought to life. I would not recommend this to the casual fans out there or the bandwagoners. But, if you are a hardcore fan of the characters, the video games, or the graphic novels, this is something you truly have to watch and experience. In the end, that is the best word to describe Injustice: It is an experience unlike any other in DC animated history and, for the right type of fan, it is an essential watch.

Rating; 4.5/5

Rey

This week we have the pleasure of reviewing Injustice, which is a movie that I’ve been looking forward to seeing since I heard about it.  Having been a huge fan of the video game that it’s modeled after, my interest was immediately high.  The original Injustice game was one of the first times that a major comic property or storyline came from that medium, and the hook of it was one that surprisingly hadn’t been used before – what if Superman decided to be evil.  And where the game created the idea, the animated movie doubled down and surpassed.

I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a Superman fan.  I find him too rigid, uninteresting, and ridiculously overpowered.  As long as he’s in this solar system, he has absolutely no weakness except for a ridiculously rare ore from his home planet.  He’s also the personification of good.  Villains call him the big boy scout for a reason.  This idea of who Superman is and what he stands for is completely turned on its head in Injustice.  At the beginning of the movie, he finds out that Lois Lane, his wife, is pregnant.  He immediately goes to help Batman to save the day just to tell him that he’s having a baby – an extremely boy scout-ish thing to do.  As the day goes on, The Joker and Harley Quinn kill Jimmy Olsen and take Lois Lane hostage.  As soon as Superman finds out, Batman sends a message to the rest of Justice League to bring all hands on deck to find her.  While looking for her, Flash is killed as he uncovers what Joker has been working on.  He’s stolen Scarecrow’s fear gas and synthesized it with Joker toxin.  And unfortunately, he laced it with Kryptonite and sprayed this on Superman.  So as Superman sees Doomsday and proceeds to fight him with all his might and takes him to outer space, Batman helps him realize that he actually just killed his wife Lois and his unborn child.  As he realizes this, a bomb hidden in a clock tower in Metropolis tied to Lois’s heartbeat goes off and destroys the city.  This is just the FIRST FIFTEEN MINUTES!

Throughout the movie, Superman begins to take his grief out on his friends and fellow superheroes, but most importantly, he takes it out on the public.  He immediately kills Joker, which turns Batman against him.  He then proceeds to try and help people by stopping all crime, attacking regimes and countries.  This goes further as he tries to go to Arkham Asylum and have Cyborg boom tube the villains there to a special, unreachable prison.  Batman brings Nightwing, Green Arrow, and Arrow’s hostage turned sidekick Harley Quinn, to stop them, but Damien Wayne has already told Superman’s group.  After a big fight with Superman telling Batman that he doesn’t know what he’s lost, Damien accidentally kills Nightwing.  Immediately, Batman loses it in a way you don’t see him lose it, with Catwoman being the only thing that holds him together.

It’s important to talk about Wonder Woman’s influence on Superman in this movie and as a whole.  Diana is the voice in Superman’s head pushing him to go on his quest of “saving” the world, not seeing that he is delving further and further into becoming a tyrant.  It takes Superman killing a bunch of teenagers dressed like Joker in a rave for her to realize that she and Superman have gone too far.  At this point, Superman has told the United Nations that he controls everything and his reach will be around the whole world to keep it safe.  The US Government conspires to kidnap Jonathan Kent to have some leverage over him, but Diana is able to find Mirror Master and help find him.  After he’s found, Batman, Catwoman, Green Arrow, Huntress, and Harley conspire to steal the Red Sun cannon from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.  They make the President send military submarines out as a distraction, but when Batman’s group gets to the Fortress, they see Jonathan there.  He tells them to leave, but Superman, Wonder Woman, and Diana catch them.  After a huge fight, Green Arrow attempts to shoot a Kryptonite arrow at Superman, which he knocks away but inadvertently kills his dad.  At this point, heroes have been killed, villains have been imprisoned, and Superman has accidentally killed his own father.  Batman’s group narrowly escapes as Superman is on the verge of losing his mind.

Batman then uses Plastic Man to sneak into Superman’s prison and release the only person who has the technology to possibly stop him – Mr. Terrific.  Thanks to Nightwing being reincarnated as Deatman the ghost, both heroes are able to escape Cyborg.  Also, after accidentally killing Nightwing, Damien Wayne has joined Superman’s cause and has attempted to bring Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows into Superman’s circle.  This turns out to be a huge mistake as Ra’s al Ghul has created Amazo with the hope of taking over the world now that there is no real power thanks to Superman.  While this fight is going on with Superman, Diana, and Cyborg trying to stop Amazo, Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, Harley, Batman, and Catwoman are trying to set up a special portal which ultimately allows them to go into the multiverse and get another Superman from another world.  This Superman fights the main Superman until the other world’s Lois comes out.  She convinces him to stand down and realize the error of his ways.  Finally, Superman’s internal conflict is over and the movie is over.

Injustice touches every emotion possible.  It’s impossible to not feel for Superman after losing his wife, son, and father.  But you quickly see where his grief turns to madness.  And you understand why he is the Big Boy Scout.  It’s because he has to hold back to stay human.  Joker stole his humanity and his hope, and ultimately, turned him into a madman that couldn’t be stopped.  It’s a fantastic movie and a fantastic story.  It’s maybe the best Superman story I’ve ever read.

The only issue is that the story from Injustice the game is just a bit better.  For the sake of time, I won’t break it down here, but just know that the game ends with Superman in the Red Sun prison, but still under the belief that he was right and the world needs his protection.  So because of that, I can’t give this movie a full on 5, but it’s damn close.  This is another feather in the hat for DC animation, as their movies usually are excellent.

Rating: 4.75/ 5

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Injustice (2021): 4.63/5


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Bandwagon Nerds #101: DC Fandome 2021

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Bandwagon Nerds
Bandwagon Nerds #101: DC Fandome 2021

DC takes over the Bandwagon as Patrick, Dave, Rey and PC Tunney break down the day that was DC Fandome 2021!   Listen as the guys geek out over the biggest trailers and their favorite announcements from the DC Universe.  Plus, the Nerds discuss the Dave Chappelle controversy surrounding Netflix as well as possible labor strike in Hollywood.  Finally, the Bandwagon continues its review of Doom Patrol season 3.

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About Bandwagon Nerds

Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, PC Tunney and Rey Cash as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!

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