What do you think was the best movie of the 1980s? If you answer anything other than Flight of the Navigator then you’re wrong, and here’s why.
It was around 1991 and my mum had just told me and my brothers we could pick a film to buy from town. I was eleven years old and very excited. Bearing in mind this was an age before streaming and the internet. Buying a movie on videotape was one of life’s great pleasures for an eleven-year-old in 1991.
I remember that it was raining as we traipsed up the main street to where the shop that stocked the videos was. I was transfixed by the rows and rows of video covers that were jumping out at me. Obviously, I was drawn to the top rows where all the adult-rated action and horror movies were. But I was quickly reminded by mum that we had to pick from the kid’s section. Scouring my eyes along the bottom row, I was drawn to the cover of a kid sat in a silver chair. Upon closer inspection, I could see it looked like an alien ship. ‘Can we get this one, mum?’ I asked. Mum checked the cover and asked my brothers if they were happy with my choice. They agreed, and we headed home with our afternoon’s viewing packed up in a bag.
You want to be the navigator
After watching the film, I, along with probably millions of other kids, wanted to be the Navigator. It’s easy to see why; getting flown around in an alien spaceship with a cool, robotic sidekick, with no one to answer to. What’s not to like about that? There was an escapism to the film that really appealed to me. Just for a moment, you could see yourself sat in that navigator’s chair flying the ship.
Apart from the shape-shifting spaceship, one of the coolest parts of the film was the alien. His official title is a ‘Trimaxion Drone Ship’, but it soon gets shortened to ‘Max’. He’s the commander of the ship and is on a mission to collect species from across the galaxy. This is why David ends up eight years in the future as Max travels faster than the speed of light. Max’s design is also great. Technically, he’s some kind of robotic cyborg who looked like a long piece of metal with a ball on the end, but he was still cool. And what’s even cooler was that he was voiced by Paul Reubens, aka, American comedy character Pee-Wee Herman. This explains why the robot manages to pull off some hilarious voices when he takes in some human emotions.
Better than E.T
Ok, so that’s quite a claim, but I believe it to be true. The 80s spawned some fantastic kids’ movies; the most iconic being E.T. Now, that was a great movie. Everyone wanted to be Elliot and have their very own E.T in their bedroom cupboard. And there were many other films of the decade that made it awesome to be a kid in the 80s. Ghostbusters; Goonies and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to name but a few. But what was special about Flight of the Navigator was that it was completely believable. It had something extra that the other films of the time didn’t have. Not only did you want to be David from the film, but it made you believe that it could actually happen. Well, it certainly convinced the eleven-year-old me.
It had the perfect mix of believability; adventure; excitement; action and emotion that is hard to execute for most movies. All the actors in the film do a sterling job – especially Joey Cramer who played David. He is the twelve-year-old boy who gets knocked unconscious after falling down a ravine and then taken to the future by the alien ship. David’s family do an excellent acting job when discovering their son has returned eight years later but having not aged at all. Howard Hesseman plays Dr Faraday; the scientist who discovers that David has alien maps and charts stored in his brain. He does a great job of acting the scientist who wants answers, but also a darker side of wanting to keep David against his will to study him. Sarah-Jessica Parker also has the role of a young scientist who helps David escape the facility.
One of the things that makes this film so good is the writing. More specifically, the dialogue between Max and David once Max has done a mind transfer and taken on human emotions. They are some genuinely laugh-out-loud bits throughout the film, but the best part takes place when Max takes the ship under the ocean to hide. David asks whether the ship leaks. Max replies, ‘I do not leak. You leak, remember?’ This refers to when the ship had to stop to allow David to take a wee. There are many great quips peppered throughout the segment, which is a credit to the screenwriter Michael Burton.
I also have to mention the special effects. Remember that this film came out in 1986, but the CGI used to create the alien ship still looks good today. There is a scene where the ship almost lands on top of a group of scientists. It then shape-shifts, before flying off at supersonic speed. That still looks awesome thirty-five years on. There’s no looking back today and cringing at it. Credit to Omnibus Computer Animation, who did a fantastic job at the effects.
If there is one feel-good family film that you should watch on a cold winters evening, then Flight of the Navigator is the one. It has everything you could want in an adventure movie. I can’t think of one single negative thing to say about the whole movie, and that’s with taking off my rose-coloured glasses.
There is also going to be a remake. Well, potentially two. Walt Disney has one in pre-production, and Neil Blomkamp from District 9 fame has announced a feature remake. I love Neil’s work, so I’m cautiously optimistic about that, but please don’t ruin an absolute classic.
That’s why Flight of the Navigator is the best movie of the 1980s. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our Sci-Fi articles our HERE
Read IMDB information on Flight of the Navigator HERE.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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