By Ray Schwetz
Anchor Bay Entertainment. Ninety minutes.
I'm probably dating myself badly here, but I remember back when this 1981 live action Disney comedy inspired a new ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins called the "Condorman Crunch." Like the ice cream, the film "Condorman" is delicious junk food.
The amusing, if improbable, storyline revolves around an eccentric comic book creator, named Woody (played by a pre-"Phantom of the Opera" Michael Crawford). Woody is asked by a CIA agent pal James Hapton to pose as a spy to assist in the defection of a beautiful Russian agent (Barbara Carrera). Woody takes on the persona of Condorman, complete with a silly spandex costume and 007 style gadgets, to complete his mission. The late Oliver Reed chews up quite a bit of scenery as the heavy in the film.
Kids will love the animated title sequence and "Condorman's" action scenes. They'll probably grow restless during the tiresome love story though. Overall, it's campy fun for the whole family.
For the first time, "Condorman" is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen! Although it's not anamorphic, the framing is accurate, and there is very little artifacting. There is slight grain, and colors are slightly washed out, but the print Anchor Bay used appears to be in good shape and the video is still very clear. This will most likely be the best the film will ever look. There is a pan/scan option, but being a firm supporter of letterboxing (who isn't?), we won't discuss it. The audio is a serviceable mono. Dialogue is clear enough. It does the job.
It's nice to see Anchor Bay picking up a film that Disney is not interested in releasing. It's also nice to see Disney handing the film over to a quality company like Anchor Bay to author a DVD of a less popular catalogue title. Universal often does the same thing with Good Times Video. When this is done, everybody wins! The studio gets money for licensing the title, the DVD company gets money for releasing it, and the fans shell out the money to buy the title. All the while, the fans feel all warm inside about the good folks at the studio and the good folks at the DVD company that made the DVD possible. Now I'll get off my "Dog Pound Soapbox."
For fans of "Condorman" and other superhero movies, the DVD is worth owning. For others looking for high camp value, you could do a lot worse.