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The Buster Keaton Collection Volume 2: Sherlock Jr. And The Navigator Blu-ray Review

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“Buster Keaton Volume 2” offers up more classics.

In the second volume of Cohen Media’s Buster Keaton Collection releases, viewers get “Sherlock Jr.” and “The Navigator.” In 1924’s “The Navigator,” a dopey heir (Rollo) hopes to marry his neighbor Betsy and even sets up a honeymoon on the ship The Navigator. Alas, he is rejected and decides to go on board the boat himself. He wakes up to discover the boat has been let loose due to a warring conflict, but there is one other passenger on board- Betsy. As they find themselves at sea, the two begin to bond through the various adventures.

The slight story and coincidental plot here are little more than excuses for a series of comedic set pieces involving meal preparation, sleep, cannibals, and so on. However, it all works thanks to Buster Keaton’s skills as a physical silent film comedian, a stuntman, and an inventive director (he co-directed the pic with Donald Crisp). There are numerous highlights here including the creepy picture, the deep sea diving sequence (for which the film is best known) and the intense climax involving everything from cannibals trying to board the Navigator to a mini cannon getting stuck on Rollo’s foot.

Directed by Buster Keaton, “Sherlock Jr.” is easily his most visually stunning picture. The story concerns a movie theater worker and wannabe detective (played by Keaton himself) who is trying to woo his dream girl. Alas, she is being pursued by another man who ends up framing poor Keaton. While projecting a movie, he falls asleep and enters a surreal dream in which he becomes the titular character trying to solve a case involving missing pearls while trying to avoid being killed. It’s a story within a story that also happens to correlate to the “real world” situation.

Keaton is really in peak form here as both an actor and a filmmaker. Screen presence wise, he does some of his best work here with the hilarious money in the trash bit, the ultra dangerous train stunt, the motorcycle chase, and the dazzling roof to car bit. From a directing standpoint, Keaton’s imaginative, creative, and ahead of its time visuals still hold up to this day. The sequence in which Keaton’s character first enters the movie screen with the scene continually changing is nothing short of miraculous.

Keaton aside, Kathryn McGuire stars in both “The Navigator” and “Sherlock Jr.” While her characters are extremely limited and lack depth, she does have a nice screen presence and plays off of Keaton well. She gets more of a chance to shine and act in “The Navigator” as the movie is largely just about the antics of Rollo and Betsy on board a ship.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: Fullscreen 1080p. How does it look? The films maintain their grain but there’s a real sense of clarity with these new restorations (with “The Navigator” looking the sharper of the two).

Audio Track: 5.1 for Navigator and 2.0 DTS-HD MA for both films. How do they sound? The scores sound fine in 2.0 but there’s certainly more oomph with the Navigator 5.1 track.

Extras:
* Cohen Media trailers
* Restoration trailers for “The Navigator” and “Sherlock Jr.”
* “Buster Keaton: The Comedian”- A nearly 4 minute extra talking about Keaton’s comedic acts and silent film comedy.
* “Buster Keaton: The Great Stone Face”- A 4 ½ minute extra about his on screen persona and his stone faced expressions.

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July 31, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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