October Sky is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with obligatory anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The image is not hamstrung by any chronic issues, nor does it particularly excel. The intentionally cold photography is well represented, with skin tones appearing authentic. Detail levels are moderate, and there's a noticeable layer of grain. Contrast is fair for the most part, but some of the darker scenes look a little greyed out. There are prominent edge halos. I saw no overt signs of compression artefacts, although the image does have a vaguely 'digital' look to it that robs it of a little naturalism.
Only a solitary Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, but it's a very good effort. Dialogue is solid, the annoying music and period soundtrack are clear and the mix has some deft surround steerage when those rockets fly. There's even a dollop of LFE in places. The US special edition release apparently came with a dts 5.1 option, but in this case I fail to see what significant improvements could be made on the Dolby track so it's no big deal that it's missing here.
The 'Aiming High' featurette is basically a half hour of the real Homer and friends running through the basic events of their real-life story, supported by clips from the film. There's no input at all from the filmmakers in this feature, which helps to lift it above the usual EPK fluff that infests discs these days. The ten-minute 'spotlight on location' feature is indeed EPK fluff, and yet it still manages to be interesting, featuring interviews with the film's leads, the director, and more from Homer himself. There's also some on-set footage that helps to break up the talking heads.
Homer also provides an audio commentary, and while he might repeat a little bit of info here and there, he proves himself a capable commentator and delivers plenty of information about the real-life circumstances that inspired the film. The disc is rounded off with the theatrical trailer, cheesily scored with a lift from James Horner's music for Apollo 13. Thankfully they didn't take that direction with the movie!
October Sky is a good little film, steering clear of the insincere sentimentality that blights Hollywood True Stories to provide an uplifting story that's largely sugar free. The DVD does a good job all round, with good if unspectacular A/V quality and a handful of extra features that are worth watching.
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