DVD Review Theme Park Review: Coaster Expedition Vol. 5
By: Alan Martin
All good things must come to an end.
This poignant tagline appeared on the cover of the last DVD offering from Robb and Elissa Alvey and led many theme-park enthusiasts to believe that the closing chapter had arrived in their brilliant series of video offerings. The time, pressure and hassles involved in the whole process had taken its toll and it was time to end the madness. But when you love having fun and sharing it with the world as much as the Alveys do, you find it impossible to just stop. Thank goodness!
This 3-DVD Comeback Installment takes the viewer in a whole new direction from previous years. Here is an adventure in the East, specifically Japan, with all the sites, sounds, smells and odd Japanese to English interpretations one could hope for. On disc one, Robb, Elissa and friend Dan romp and reel through 18 of Japans greatest parks with playful abandon while capitalizing on every odd cultural discovery along the way. Additional State-side clips round out the disc with disc two providing excellent POV footage of nearly every ride on the trip. The third bonus disc compiles the winning entries from ThemeParkReviews 2004 Theme-park Video Contest.
The collections true value comes from its ability to allow those of us that have neither the financial flexibility or free time to experience the best amusement experiences Japan has to offer. Noticeably absent are the obligatory meal visits to Carrabbas Italian Grill. McDonalds is the sustenance location of choice here with the miraculous discovery of Western Produced assorted snacks by Dan in a moment of gastric desperation. The traveling from park to park can be a little scary, especially when you have to share the rail system with sleeping Japanese locals. Ducks are NOT allowed on certain rides and who could have believed that an escalator could be so. so. well, you just have to see it to believe it.
The state-side footage included at the end of disc one carries you through 20+ parks. Here we experience the more familiar feel of American parks with the appearance of Dallas Alvey, Tommy and James and others. The Halloween segments are a great addition though shooting in such low light precluded ride-through footage for some attractions.
For those enthusiasts who have not experienced a ride on Thunderhead at Dollywood, the POV footage on disc two will have them screaming to the hills of Tennessee with reckless abandon. The ultimate gut buster in the POV footage comes with the last segment on the disc. While bleeped for content, a clear series of explicative filled, colorful phrases are utilized to express Robbs enjoyment of his ride aboard the Manhattan Express. You can watch it over and over and it’s hilarious every time.
The overall footage quality of the collection is top-notch with clear, steady shots and clean edits throughout. Occasionally shots suffer from low-light conditions and poor contrast though these are rare. The Alveys are masters at short-film editing and consistently choose intriguing visuals for each segment. Understandably, the footage type and style is a mix on disc three as they are submissions from various sources.
The music choices are interesting and varied. Somehow, the Alveys have managed to identify enough Japanese related and/or styled tracks to fill out the collection with appropriate audio material. An impressive feat by itself. The Butterfly and End of the Century segments utilize music from the Dance Dance Revolution games. These are inspired choices as Japan is the games birthplace and harkens back to the many DDR references and clips in earlier video collections.
Plan to set aside a chunk of time if you wish to digest the collection all at once. The first disc contains over 70 minutes of footage while disc two rings in at 80 minutes. Disc three hits 60 minutes plus. Thats over 3½ hours of entertainment for $30.00! A show that is more than worth the admission price.
This collection has it all: Great music, awesome footage both local and abroad, excellent POV and a potpourri of great videos collected from around the world. The Alveys collections are the standard by which others are measured and rightly so. They have poured a tremendous amount of time and energy into this project and it shows. They deserve our thanks for allowing us another chance to participate, albeit vicariously, in their fun. On a final note, the collection also ends with a butt crack shot which is funny and a little disturbing Wait! Maybe THAT is what they meant by All good things must come to an end.