The Aviator delivers on DVD.
In The Aviator, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the incomparable Howard Hughes, whose life included scores of women, millions of dollars spent on films, and a passion for aviation that was rivaled only by his increasingly obsessive personality. I will openly admit that my knowledge of Howard Hughes included only his later years in life—the stories of the older man who holed himself up in a hotel room, let his fingernails grow, and walked around with tissue boxes on his feet. So, for the uninitiated, this film is an excellent introduction to the life of a man whose contributions to the world were far-reaching. He was the first true billionaire, an aviation pioneer, and an epic filmmaker who didn't bat an eye at spending more than a million dollars on a picture, which was a budget unheard-of during the time.
The film follows Hughes through three decades of his life. Despite this lengthy time span, the film never loses speed or direction, thanks to the fact that it was directed by the more-than-capable Martin Scorsese (who was robbed of his Oscar, in my opinion).
A film with such an all-star cast and crew should get the red-carpet treatment when it comes to the DVD, and The Aviator delivers. The 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer is compelling. The colors are vibrant, the scenes are crisp and detailed, and every nuanced element of the picture comes to life. Many scenes, naturally, feature planes flying on blue-sky backgrounds, and the sharpness and detail you'll see in each cloud is extraordinary. Even the dark scenes are focused and sharp. You won't find many artifacts or problems with this transfer.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is just as impressive as the video transfer. The sound of planes swooshing overhead and music emanating from old-school ballrooms will fill your theater. Subs will find a lot to work with here, as there are a number of plane crashes.
The extras package, included on a separate disc, is the shining star of this release. You'll find extras on everything you ever wanted to know about this film, from Howard Shore's wonderful work on the score, to the costume and makeup work, to details on obsessive-compulsive disorder. There's even a short featurette on the Wainwright family—Loudon, Rufus, and Martha—who sing at the nightclubs during each of the different decades. Look for the visual-effects extra and another on the role Hughes played in aviation history.
The film is a fascinating look at a fascinating man, who should certainly be remembered for more than his OCD.