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4.6 out of 5 stars97
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 18 October 2006
I first saw this movie for sale in the US when visiting KSC in Florida - NTSC on VHS over two tapes. I watched it once and immediately searched for it online and found it here at Amazon. The DVD print was excellent from the clear screen transfer through to the ear splitting sound as the Bell X-1 rocket plane thunders across the sky.

The story is one that most space geeks will be familiar with starting with a war hero pilot in the high desert of california flying the Bell rocket plane. You're then introduced to a certain Captain Chuck Yeager - a name that this generation will find synonimous with flight simulator software. The story follows two parallel lines, one line following Yeager and the other following seven astronauts, the Mercury Seven. We see the trials that the prospective astronauts go through, both in their workplace and their homes.

The movie tends towards an element of sentimentality at times and I wonder how much of Tom Wolfe's fiction has any basis in fact but there are some special moments. The flypast with the classic missing man formation at a funeral is an emotive moment, and the ever present preacher arriving like the angel of death carrying the news of another nameless dead hotshot spread across the Mojave adds a darker element.

The film is long, but doesn't feel so and the production values high. The characterisation is, from the biographies of the astronauts and flyers I've read, reasonably accurate and with the mixing in of genuine footage at one point it is difficult to determine whether Al Shepherd is himself or the actor Scott Glenn.

I enjoyed the movie, especially the little touches like the onscreen cameo for General Yeager himself. Watch also for an early Jeff Goldblum role - a marvellous double act with Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap fame. I would suggest that you play the movie loud to experience the full battering wall of sound that is the flight of the X-1 and the launch of the Mercury-Redstone rocket.
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on 19 February 2004
This is one of the Best films that appeared in the eighties and even today it still hasn't lost its flair. The special effects are especially good, seeing as they were made in the days before CGI; but what really makes the film is the story and the acting (and not forgetting Bill Conti's stirring soundtrack) which are all excellent. The film follows Tom Wolfe's book quite closelly, although it sadly omits the flights of Schirra, Slayton and Carpenter in favour of running time. The film is also notable for providing a rather accurate portrayl of the Mercury program.
I recommend this film to anyone who has an interest in space or aviation.
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on 15 February 2007
The early story of the American space program is told here with humans at the heart, not scientific or technical problems (like how to design spacecraft). The film focusses on the period before Project Apollo, and in that sense is a good prequel to Apollo 13. It can be recommended for anyone whose view of the American Space program is confined to the latter film. An inspired touch, in my view, is the inclusion of Henry Mancini's theme from The White Dawn used to express the awe of John Glenn when orbiting the earth (and the rest of us humans marvelling at the achievement). Good as the film is, it would also be good to have the mini-series Space (based on the novel by James A. Michener) released on DVD, for a more comprehensive and alternative, albeit fictional, view.
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on 28 December 2000
Great version of Tom Wolf's book (which I'd also give 5 stars) The movie depicts the transition of test pilots into astronauts during the space race years when not much was known about space travel and exploration and humans were running into an unknown comparable to Columbus's crossing of the Atlantic back then. Exellent shots, although they cannot be compared to today's effects they stand out for their credibility and simplicity. Although a documentary, this movie is pretty well plotted and will keep you stuck in front of the screen for its 3 hours.
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on 19 March 2014
I saw The Right Stuff when it was showed on British TV in parts. I loved the Dennis Quaid parts in which he plays the cocky Gordo Cooper, and he really does not disappoint. In fact many to the actors were clearly chosen because of their similarity to the actual astronauts and Ed Harris is stunningly like a young John Glenn. But unlike many films that have followed that, here they hit gold with excellent actors like Fred Ward, Harris, Quaid etc. The other big benefits is a terrific 'wife' cast - Angela Cartwright turns in another excellent performance and you'll see Zooey Deschanel's mum as John Glenn's wife.

The soundtrack is a treat, but it failed slightly by at times doing that typical 80's thing of using some electronic instruments rather than a proper orchestra at times. It just sounds dated.

Nice and clear on Blu Ray, but don't expect pinpoint clarity, and good sound too.

I think it ran for a good three hours so make you get the snacks in!
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on 14 November 2013
This 30th Anniversary Edition (All-Region!) is a real treat for all THE RIGHT STUFF fans. Picture and sound quality are great, considering the fact that historical footage of rocket launches was also used. I usually only pay attention to image and sound quality when purchasing a BD, but man, how this edition is presented! A real collector's item, nice booklet with high quality pics, lots of extras on a second disc, and even a letter from director Philip Kaufman. So good it became one of my favorite top 20 movies. Buy it, you cannot be disappointed. The best way I've seen THE RIGHT STUFF so far, since I never saw it in the theater.
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on 9 August 2001
Don't expect to have the Hollywood grip of Apollo 13 as this film was made to show us what these guys had to go through. Your heart will go out to Chuck Yeger who in my book was THE bravest man of all who was bypassed for the space program. However, the film is gripping and I must rate it as one of my favourite films of all time. My wife thought that she wouldn't enjoy it as she was expecting a shoot em up type of film but she was gripped from start to end - and it is a long film. Show it to your kids as these guys really were the "Right Stuff", show them what life was like in simpler times when physical barriers were unknown. When it is over, ask yourself, could you have gone through what these guys did, not knowing if you were ever coming home? A masterpiece of cinematography.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 February 2016
VIDEO:

This 30th Anniversary Edition of The Right Stuff debut on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC (22.50 Mpbs) 1080p 1.85:1 encode. After undergoing a meticulous restoration prior to its 2003 DVD release, this HD transfer raises the bar yet again. The biggest difference lies in the removal of dozens of errant marks that littered the DVD. With such annoyances gone, we are left with a spotless, perfectly balanced image featuring slightly enhanced contrast and clarity. The letters that signify location are markedly sharper than they are on the DVD, and close-ups possess more impact (check out the shot of Cooper reflected in the nurse's eyeglasses), highlighting a host of fine facial details. This transfer offers a pleasingly film-like image that is consistently detailed, fine-grained and colourful with a widely varying palette. The 193 minute length is a little too long. (4.5/5)

AUDIO:

A film that wins Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing demands a strong audio track, and Warner delivers with a highly immersive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that is smoother, richer, and more nuanced than the previous lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Bill Conti's Oscar-winning music score adds an air of majesty to the proceedings, exhibiting great depth of tone as it sweeps across all my nine speakers. Best of all, no hiss, pops, or crackles disrupt the audio's purity, making this finely tuned mix one of the best restored 1980s tracks. (4.5/5)

AWARDS:

In 1984, The Right Stuff won 4 Oscars: Best Original Score (Bill Conti), Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Effects. It was also nominated in 4 other categories: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Sam Sheppard), Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction.

PACKAGING:

The Right Stuff is packaged in one of Warner's slick, handsomely designed 40-page digibooks, which is very informative and educational about the Mercury programs and the movie. I personally prefer this type of presentation and would buy the digibook format whenever available. I feel I get more value for the buck. Other notable blu-ray digibooks include Cleopatra, Deliverance, Chariots Of Fire, Jaws and Easy Rider.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

After 30 years, The Right Stuff still delivers the goods. Reverent and respectful, yet laced with biting comedy and a whimsy that belies the toughness of the figures it salutes, Philip Kaufman's epic chronicle of trail-blazing test pilots, America's premier astronauts, and the elusive quality that sets them apart from most mortals remains a terrifically entertaining and exciting film. Warner's handsome digibook presentation honours the film with a striking video transfer and improved audio soundtrack, both superior to its 20th anniversary DVD counterpart. You will also love The Right Stuff for its history, humor, and humanity. The digibook set is indeed “The Right Stuff” and is highly recommended.
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"There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, 750 miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the Sound Barrier.

"Then they built a small plane, the X-1, to try and break the Sound Barrier, and men came to the high desert of California to ride it. They were called test pilots, and no-one knew their names."

With its communal desert funerals and men riding out of the night to exchange their horses for jets, The Right Stuff's extraordinary opening places it firmly as a mythic modern western. With the West conquered and the demon in the air tamed, the new frontier is Space and the new pioneers America's first astronauts, the 'Magnificent' Mercury Seven.

Picked as much for their looks as their abilities - Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot who broke the Sound Barrier, was rejected for the programme because he didn't go to college while John Glenn was chosen because he was good on a game show - the film strips away the NASA-LIFE magazine marketing image of all-American boy-next-door heroes for one of flawed human beings overcoming the everyday to achieve extraordinary things. Real heroes rather than manufactured ones.

Yet if those around them are clowns - the neurotic double-act of recruiters Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer, Donald Moffat's Lyndon B. Johnson throwing a paddy in his car, the ex-Nazi rocket scientists singing old battle songs on lift-off - the astronauts are heroic but convincingly human figures. Surprisingly, the film also finds a lot of time for their wives, whose growing dependence on each other mirrors their husbands' camaraderie. Both male and female ensembles are excellent, but special mention must be made of Fred Ward as the ill-starred Gus Grissom and Ed Harris' upright, difficult to like Glenn.

This basis in recognisable reality adds immensely to the film's impact, although one of Kaufman's most successful notions is also his most daringly stylised: making Death a flesh-and-blood character in the film, personified by Royal Dano's black-clad minister who silently strides up to test pilot's doors to break the bad news to their widows. Even when the space program begins he can be found in the crowd, a constant spectre reminding the audience of the enormity of the odds against the first astronauts. Despite the cynicism the film has for authority - "Our German scientists are better than their German scientists" - it never forgets there's something real at stake.

More than anything else, it is full of honest wonder, where the truly special effects are the emotional ones, the film at times genuinely moving. Glenn's orbit of the Earth to the accompaniment of Henry Mancini's score from Kaufman's earlier The White Dawn is one of the screen's most magical moments, and the film's final line of dialogue carries real weight coming from the film's most flippant character. Nor does Kaufman forget the men who were left behind because they didn't fit the profile, Sam Shepherd's Yeager finally getting to touch the very heavens in the film's climax, the demon finally tamed and replaced with a heavenly light as the end of the great heroic era of solo test pilots - and the Mercury Seven were just that - comes to an end.

With much humour and some striking, unforgettable images - Royal Dano's Angel of Death glimpsed as another test pilot sets off, the sparks from an Aborigine fire seeming to summon up fireflies in space, the suited astronauts striding towards the camera in a shot that's been imitated a thousand times since, Yeager emerging from the desert haze after a plane crash - The Right Stuff is one of the great films of the eighties, and just gets better every time you see it.

Part of the last major batch of epics aimed at a primarily adult audience - Reds, Ragtime, The Bounty among them - and boasting a then-massive $27m budget, this was the last big roll of the dice for the Ladd Company, which had been started with high hopes but had been badly hit by the failure of films like Blade Runner (their only significant hit was the first Police Academy). The film's box-office failure would herald the end of the startup, but not before they were reluctantly forced to infamously heavily cut Once Upon a Time in America in the US after disastrous Cannes reviews because of theatres reluctance to book another long film after The Right Stuff.

Perhaps it's that lack of success that meant that the film was only available in a standard `vanilla' edition before this special edition, but the two-disc set makes amends with some good extras. The featurettes on the making of the film could be longer and it's a shame that the audio commentaries are only scene-specific rather than covering the whole film, but there are some interesting deleted scenes that were wisely omitted. The cuts show that Kaufman at one point intended to take the comedy in a more crudely comic mode, with NASA's chief scientist and Lyndon B. Johnson's cackling crosscut with cackling chimps, and even the film's stirring shot of the suited astronauts striding towards the camera undermined by the comic capers of the press corps.

The real Mercury Seven are also acknowledged in the set with archive footage, new interviews and a documentary on John Glenn as well as the theatrical trailer. All in all an impressive two-disc set for a great movie.
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on 18 October 2006
I first saw this movie for sale in the US when visiting KSC in Florida - NTSC on VHS over two tapes. I watched it once and immediately searched for it online and found it here at Amazon. The DVD print was excellent from the clear screen transfer through to the ear splitting sound as the Bell X-1 rocket plane thunders across the sky.

The story is one that most space geeks will be familiar with starting with a war hero pilot in the high desert of california flying the Bell rocket plane. You're then introduced to a certain Captain Chuck Yeager - a name that this generation will find synonimous with flight simulator software. The story follows two parallel lines, one line following Yeager and the other following seven astronauts, the Mercury Seven. We see the trials that the prospective astronauts go through, both in their workplace and their homes.

The movie tends towards an element of sentimentality at times and I wonder how much of Tom Wolfe's fiction has any basis in fact but there are some special moments. The flypast with the classic missing man formation at a funeral is an emotive moment, and the ever present preacher arriving like the angel of death carrying the news of another nameless dead hotshot spread across the Mojave adds a darker element.

The film is long, but doesn't feel so and the production values high. The characterisation is, from the biographies of the astronauts and flyers I've read, reasonably accurate and with the mixing in of genuine footage at one point it is difficult to determine whether Al Shepherd is himself or the actor Scott Glenn.

I enjoyed the movie, especially the little touches like the onscreen cameo for General Yeager himself. Watch also for an early Jeff Goldblum role - a marvellous double act with Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap fame. I would suggest that you play the movie loud to experience the full battering wall of sound that is the flight of the X-1 and the launch of the Mercury-Redstone rocket.
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