The Discovery Channel made an amazing investment when they gave Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman – two veteran special effects wizards – their own show.
"Mythbusters" is an entertaining show and it spawned a special based solely on myths propagated in films. Discovery collected the special on the DVD Mythbusters Mega Movie Myths.
The result is a fun and informative 84 minutes of demolition and science, even if it becomes clear that it was made for TV.
Savage and Hyneman start the special with their co-hosts Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara and Kari Byron watching movies. While Kari tries to feed popcorn to Buster, the crash test dummy, everybody decides they should challenge some of their favorite movie myths.
OK, the conceit here is a little weak, but it's not annoying and it's just the set up. They come back to it once or twice, ending with a re-cap in the same "screening room" to explain which myths are plausible and which have been busted.
Regardless, the cast keeps things light-hearted throughout. Hyneman and Savage have almost a brotherly kind of adversarial relationship while the team of Belleci, Imahara and Byron come off as a group of friends who just happen to have working knowledge or robotics, explosives and set design.
The special follows the format of the regular TV show – a myth is introduced, a team assigned and a plan is formed on how to measure and test the myth.
Also like the show, each myth segment is intercut with scenes from another myth, keeping everybody busy throughout and making sure the viewer doesn't get bogged down by one subject. The downside to that is sometimes the action moves to a second myth just as the first is near the climax.
Savage and Hyneman work with the co-stars on the first myth, drawn from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Could someone survive a jump from a tall building with only awnings to break the fall?
It's always fun to watch the Mythbusters prove they don't know exactly what is going to happen. Savage basically bets that there's a 0 percent chance of Buster surviving a fall through three awnings. The dummy might not be in great shape when it's all done, but he's not dead. (Not that he was alive before, but...)
Each segment is accompanied by clips from the film where they myth was drawn. "The Count of Monte Cristo" inspired a myth about swords cutting through other swords. "Austin Powers in Goldmember" was the impetus for a myth about hidden ejector seats. "The Dukes of Hazzard" helped create the gorge jump myth. "Big Trouble in Little China" brought on a myth about shooting locks off of doors and "Underworld" helped inspire a myth about shooting the floor to make an instant elevator.
One drawback is this special's origins as a TV show. Not only do you see movie clips, you see the same clips again and again. The same goes with footage of the work that goes into proving or disproving a myth.
Time and again, you'll get a re-cap before a break (which doesn't come on a DVD, of course), followed by a re-cap that ushers you back in from the non-existent commercial interruption. Something tells me this wouldn't be 84 minutes if it had been edited for DVD buyers.
Some might complain about puns from the announcer, but even the groan-worthy – "cutting to the core" of a sword myth, or the ejector seat myth "taking off" – help service the cause of keeping the special on track.
Even though there's a lot of science at play here, it's a fun show for novices, too. As technical as some of the talk gets, there's always someone there to explain it in layman's terms. The style stays conversational and retains kind of a good time party atmosphere, even when the participants fear for their safety.
Shot in 1.33:1 fullscreen, the DVD retains the TV look. Regardless of the shape of the picture, it's still pretty good looking for a reality show. Lighting keeps everybody in focus and the action is rarely obscured. When it is, don't worry, there's a slow-mo replay coming for the good stuff.
It's nothing spectacular, but the Dolby Digital stereo sound gets the job done. It might have been nice, with so many sword clashes and car crashes, to go for surround sound, but since this was made for TV, it's not surprising.
That said, hearing voices clearly is no problem. Neither is picking up gun shots or the whoosh of the ejector seat at work.
If there were extras, they must be Easter Eggs, because I couldn't find them. A Discovery Channel button takes you to advertisements, but that's it.
The scene selection navigation is nice, though you might need to see the special first before you can figure out exactly which scene your skipping ahead to.
Despite an allegiance to the TV format so rigorous that I reached for my DVR remote to fast forward before I realized a commercial wasn't coming, Mythbusters Mega Movie Myths is a good way to waste an hour and a half.
Much like the regular TV show, the special combines humor with learning (and some really awesome crashes) to create a fun disc that is acceptable for every family member. This one is Recommended.