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The Navigator Blu-ray Review

“The Navigator” is a charming Buster Keaton film.

The plot: A dopey rich boy named Rollo decides to propose to the woman (Betsy) across the street, but his offer is quickly rejected. Having already booked tickets for a honeymoon cruise on board the Navigator, he decides to go solo. As he arrives on the boat extremely early, he wakes up to find the boat adrift. What he doesn’t know is; the boat has been let loose due to a war conflict between two nations. In a cruel twist of fate for poor Rollo, only one other person happens to be on board the same boat- Betsy (the woman who rejected his marriage offer). As the two are now lost at sea, they begin to bond on their odd and comedic journey together.

Despite a somewhat slow start, “The Navigator” quickly picks up steam once Betsy and Rollo meet up on board the Navigator. Thanks to a great chemistry between comedic legend Buster Keaton and actress Kathryn McGuire, it’s easy to get swept up into the adventures of these characters. How can you not smile and laugh when Rollo and Betsy try to fall asleep on the dark, rocky ship or when Betsy uses Rollo (in a deep sea diving suit) as a flotation device? The two simply make a great team together on screen.

Cast aside, “The Navigator” is yet another impressive Buster Keaton starring vehicle. As with other Keaton films like “The General” and the ending of “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” “The Navigator” is truly epic in scope and contains some exciting set pieces. The underwater sequence (featuring Keaton literally swordfish fighting), the Rollo and Betsy chase on the Navigator, and any scene with the tribe and Rollo and Betsy are particularly noteworthy here. The scenes may not seem like any big deal today, but you have to realize how creative and inventive this material was not only for silent films, but for cinema in general. Buster Keaton (and his fellow writers and directors) loved to think outside the box and push the boundaries of cinema which is what makes his work so special.

Summary: “The Navigator” is a cinematic delight. Check it out.

Video/Audio:

The picture quality of “The Navigator” is undoubtedly superior in 1.33:1 1080p, but the hi-def transfer unfortunately also highlights the print’s flaws. Scratches, lines, dirt specs, and even a hair are noticeable throughout the film. On the plus side, sets and environments are much more detailed on Blu-ray as are Keaton’s stoned faced expressions.

Both the 5.1 DTS-HD and 2.0 LPCM audio tracks with Robert Israel’s score have been included on this disc. The 5.1 track naturally has the most depth to the score here. I’m not sure why you’d go with the 2.0 track instead, but it’s there as an option.

Extras:
* A photo gallery.
* A recording of the “Asleep In The Deep” song by Wilfred Glenn.
* “Featurette”- Film historian Bruce Lawton narrates this visual documentary that talks about the making of “The Navigator,” props, Keaton’s love of boats, his film career and characters, etc.
* Commentary by Robert Arkus and Yair Solan. This is essentially a geek out about “The Navigator” and Buster Keaton in general. Lots of factoids about the cast, references, stories about the ship, scenes, etc. An informative and entertaining track.

October 2, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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