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Category:    Home > Reviews > History > Geography > Travelogue > Large Frame Format > Action > Thriller > Kidnapping > Western > Arabia 3D/IMAX (2010/Image Blu-ray 3D)/Greece: Secrets Of The Past/IMAX (2006/Image Blu-ray)/The Last Hard Men/SkyRiders (1976/Shout! Factory DVD)

Arabia 3D/IMAX (2010/Image Blu-ray 3D)/Greece: Secrets Of The Past/IMAX (2006/Image Blu-ray)/The Last Hard Men/SkyRiders (1976/Shout! Factory DVD)

 

3D Picture: B+     2D Picture: B/B/C+     Sound: B+/B+/C+   Extras: B-/B-/C    Films: B/B-/C+

 

 

Greg MacGillivray and the late Jim Freeman started as cameramen and filmmakers who knew the value of the big screen and big screen images.  As Hollywood took a break from shooting large frame films, they shot key footage for dramatic films and helped establish the then-new IMAX format showing off all of its many possibilities in the early 1970s and their company (though Freeman died in an accident years ago) is one of the premiere 70mm companies to this day and the following releases show how far they’ve gone.

 

 

MacGillivray’s Arabia 3D IMAX film shows his mastery o9f the 3D format long before Hollywood’s latest wave thereof with footage of Saudi Arabia never seen before, even in Lawrence Of Arabia (1962) as we learn about Arabia, religion, Islam, its people and the priceless contributions the region made to the world in its previous two golden periods.  Is a third golden period upon us?  It is powerful filmmaking and much more effective than any footage of Dubai in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  Helen Mirren narrates this very rich 46 minutes journey that is a must-see program.

 

MacGillivray’s Greece: Secrets Of The Past IMAX film is only 3D and runs about as long, but has more comedy to it than facts and science and though I appreciate a sense of humor, I think some opportunities where missed here in dealing with another great country and its priceless history.  Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding narrates and this definitely has some great moments, but is not always as engaging as I would have liked.

 

Finally we have a double feature of two film Fox issued in 1976, The Last Hard Men and SkyRiders, both starring James Coburn.  SkyRiders is relevant here in this thriller where the family of a rich man (Robert Culp) is kidnapped and Coburn is hired to help find them.  He finds a group that knows how to use hang gliders (so 1970s) and when they discover the family is held in a mountain monastery, that’s how they plan their sneak attack.  MacGillivray and Freeman did all the aerial footage.  The 1973 Bond film Live & Let Die had already made fun use of a glider and the 1979 Bond film Moonraker (both reviewed elsewhere on this site) would have fun with that again, but this all out use of such footage makes a so-so film much more interesting.  Douglas Hickox directed and Lalo Schifrin did a nice score for it.

 

That leaves us with the Revenge Western The Last Hard Men directed by Andrew V. McLaglen (a veteran of the genre) pitting a very brutal, sadistic villain played by Coburn up against lawman Charlton Heston.  Not only was the film very violent for its time, it still is pretty bloody and also has the controversial (another one) slow motion rape scene that was part of a bizarre cycle throughout the 1970s.  Removing all that blood and sexual violence, the pitting of Heston and Coburn against each other is the reason to see this one, though this kind of Western was played out by then.  Jerry Goldsmith’s score helps too.  Trailers, stills and TV spots are the only extras for both.

 

 

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image on Arabia is impressive more often than not and a little better than the 2D 1080p version also included, but sometimes just not as sharp or as clear as I would have liked, which goes for the same on the 2D only 1080p for Greece.  Still, both have demo shots and are recommended for serious home theater systems.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVD films have good color, but are also a bit soft and the prints show their age, yet they have not likely looked this good in years.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on both IMAX Blu-ray releases are top rate mixes that have great sonic soundfields and will impress on any serious home theater system.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on both DVDs also show their age but play well enough considering so.

 

Extras on both IMAX Blu-rays have the same collection of a dozen or so trailers for other IMAX Blu-rays and short retrospective of MacGillivray Freeman, while they separately have their own making of featurettes for their respective productions.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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