Legends of Flight 2D/3D Review

Do you like Boeing? No, wait. Do you LOVE Boeing and think the 787 is the greatest thing ever invented by anyone, anywhere, at any time in the history of our species? You’d better going into Legends of Flight, because it’s 40+ minutes of Boeing, Boeing, Boeing.

No offense to those who worked on the plane of course; it looks fantastic here, and its immense scale is perfect for this IMAX shoot. It’s that pesky title that gets in the way, specifically the Legends part. There are brief skirmishes with other planes, from Harrier jets to gliders and brief flirtations with Boeing competition, but that’s it. Maybe the 787 is a legend, or will become one. Thinking “legendary” when it comes to flight doesn’t immediately illicit thoughts of the latest and greatest though, more like the Wright Brothers.

Legends seems to cheat too, and while going in there’s a full understanding of the complexity of shooting IMAX, CG planes hovering around a carrier just feels like cheating, Sure, it allows for all sorts of 3D fun and intuitive close-ups of the vehicles in action, but we’re here for the vistas and seeing the actual craft in action. It’s not everyday IMAX cameras can capture images like this. There’s also the insistence of overlaying wireframes, stuff like pitiful birds and in-progress plane designs hovering overhead. Again, great for 3D, not so great for general viewing.

Legends does offer sights though, some gorgeous and brilliant panoramas of mountains, oceans, and the Boeing factory itself, the latter that portrays the immense size of the facility with a brilliant grace. Those are the moments where this one can show some life, and even inside the hangar as freshly prepared planes roll off the line towards the camera. Why someone chose to ruin that with bouncy wireframes is a mystery.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Note: DoBlu is not yet equipped for 3D, so the following is based on the 2D version alone.

The first shot of this AVC encode isn’t promising, preparing the viewer more for a long ride down a technical nightmare of a highway. Banding fills the rather putrid shaded backdrop, while aliasing creeps into the wireframe model spinning around on screen. One of those problems will stick around, 1080p obviously not enough to reproduce the stringent lines of the computer generated model at any juncture here. While sharp, they can’t hold themselves together.

Everything else? It’s a thing of beauty. Clarity here is exactly what all Blu-rays should strive for, yet can rarely attain due to the benefits of IMAX large scale film stock. Jaws will drop as the camera first pans over the facility where these planes are built, the exteriors housing hundreds of cars in a miles wide parking lot, each one distinguishable. Into the air, mountain ranges become reference quality vistas, making those irritating CG effects even more of an eyesore. Small ripples in the water, trees lining the landscape, and snow banks are defined flawlessly, producing an exquisite, detailed quality that lives up to the enormity of these visuals.

While the print itself suffers from a few age-related anomalies like specks and scratches (a shame since this was released in 2010), it’s in otherwise superior condition. There’s another oddity at 21:20 where it seems like the black levels were sucked clean from the frame, replaced with a glowing purple/blue hue that makes for a rather jarring transition from prior frames.

Maybe it’s only such a jolt because the black levels are simply so stupendous elsewhere. Depth is stunning, the screen regularly going all black to showcase those wireframe schematics, levels there matching the live action. Colors are reproduced with a slightly exaggerated vibrancy that never feels out of place or overwhelming. There’s almost no visible grain to speak of either, leaving the encode to keep a grip on the action and various rotating pans, and it passes whatever test is thrown at it.

Video ★★★★★ 

To go along with the gratuitous 3D effects, Legends must produce a constantly fulfilling sound field. As overused as those various pieces of animation are, they sound superlative, wrapping around the room as if they were physical objects. The surrounds come in handy as often as the stereos, virtual engines spinning up, the blades becoming distinct in each of the fronts.

Hangars are alive with sound effects, things such as drills or metal scraping heard with crispness and distinct placement. Dialogue takes a firm stance in the center channel and won’t move or be outdone. Music takes full advantage of the DTS-HD format, matching the video in terms of clarity and accurate reproduction. The one thing missing here is some bass, one or two engines revving up with some force, the rest not quite living up to their potential given the scale here.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

The extras menu contains the now familiar IMAX making-of, this one running a hair over 24-minutes, followed by a text rundown of the planes featured in the film itself. Trailers and BD-Live access remain.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.