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Altitude (Blu-ray Review)

Sometimes I wonder if those reading ever wonder why I choose to take on some of the films I do for Blu-ray reviews? Like, who would watch that…oh that guy. When it comes to pure action resembling the late 80s and 90s, I’m a sucker as I was a big fan of that film fad. They still make them nowadays, most are straight to video and yeah, a lot are no good. But, when I take on something like this, I’m either looking to see what one of my favorite action legends is up to lately, maybe it could be some hidden gem or on the other end maybe its trashy and silly enough to be a good passage of time. Anyway, maybe now you can see why, when Brian offers me an action film starring Dolphen Lundgren AND Denise Richards that takes place on a plane high up in the sky, I accept the challenge and go for it on the review. Anyway, Altitude will be available June 30th on Blu-ray.

Film 

A headstrong FBI agent is offered millions to help a thief escape from a hijacked airplane. When she finds out that his ex-partners are leading the deadly operation, she must choose sides and do whatever it takes to keep the plane from going down.

I didn’t read the synopsis before checking this one out, just the cast list and the picture on the box. Had you told me this would be an attempt to make a Passenger 57 with Denise Richards, I would have been even more looking forward to Altitude. Its a film that knows its limits, realizes what it is, and tries to both be aware, but still try and convincingly make the best film it can with the resources allotted to it. And given those circumstances, it succeeds enough to be a little enjoyable.

Nobody is winning any awards for acting in this film, and you didn’t need to be told that by me before watching the film; its on the damn box. Some of it makes for some fun, but most of it lends itself to actually be being passable. Denise Richards, nobody’s favorite Bond girl, still isn’t very great but feels as if shes’ come a long way and manages to mesh in well with the rest of this cast. Dolph Lundgren is here to chew scenery and do what he can on the (probably) 2 days he shot the movie (He spends most of it in the cockpit flying a plane). Grammer Greer has a lot of fun with her role but is about the same level as Richards. Chuck Liddell is pretty much forgettable here.

Altitude flirts with a lot qualities which makes it an entertaining view. The film has its moments with being a good, silly trashy b-level action movie, while at the same time being of the so bad its good variety. And at a couple spots, it was just genuinely good. The film actually does have some humor in it that works that isn’t of the self aware variety.  Its crazy that I’m saying all this and finding the film not to be that bad. Nobody needs to rush and see this thing, but its of that lazy day on the couch and too tired to change the channel kind of movie. But, you might not want to change the channel because its just good enough.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: Altitude has a rather expected picture quality to it. I feel like if they wanted it to, it could have looked a little better, but this is just fine and this is a Denise Richads/Passenger 57 movie, so I get that. Details are pretty good even though the film tries its best to be very dark at times. The CGI comes off as a little obvious, but in that sorta cheap DTV quality this is actually pretty good and passable. The image is pretty sharp and crisp, though a couple scenes (probably because of the set or the lighting) look a little dingy. Overall, this is rather a run of the mill modern straight to video image.

Depth:  This carries a rather regular looking dimensional work that is really good at times. Movement is natural and consistent and I didn’t catch any blurring or jittering problems with faster movements.

Black Levels: The film is a bit dark in many places, but no crushing is present. It manages to hold on to a good amount of detail and present some good shadow and shading.

Color Reproduction: The film has a rather dingy look to it, with sometimes carrying a green tinge. Blues are very nice an reds pop quite good.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the duration of it. Facial features come across very good in close ups with wrinkles, cuts, scrapes, lip texture, stubble and more coming through. You can also make out every ounce of make up piled onto Denise Richards’ face (Its really weird in some quite lit close-ups, almost mime-like in some spots) as well as take note of Greer Grammer’s too.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Altitude is a little like your ears popped on the way up into the sky. Its volume is a little low compared to your average track. However, its a solid, clean track with some really nice ambiance in terms of the plane sounds being like you have yourself a seat. Effects like guns, foot stomping and such are pretty distinct in clear. The track has a little bit of blending and muffledness at times, but overall is just pretty solid.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Feet stomping, punches and kicks, scuffling and engine roaring and humming give a decent rumble from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Rear speakers mainly provide ambient sounds for the plane and other moments in the film. Character placement, volume accuracy to the distance and movement are well done and as they are to screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clean and clear with good diction from the character voices.

Extras 

Altitude comes with an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Trailer (HD, 1:42)

Summary 

Call me shocked, I actually had a good enough time with this one. Nope, its not great, probably not even “good”, but its very watchable and plenty entertaining for many reasons.  This Blu-ray comes with a rather solid presentation, but no extras at all to speak of. So, you probably want to just rent or stream this one first if its not available in a five dollar bin yet.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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