Flight of the Phoenix
Dennis Quaid as Captain Frank Towns
Miranda Otto as Kelly
Giovanni Ribisi as Elliott
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Following the crash of their cargo plane in the middle of the inhospitable Gobi desert, a group of laid-off oil workers band together behind their heroic pilot and a mysterious passenger who convinces them to build a new plane out of the wreck.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
While certainly not a bad film, this remake of a 1965 original can’t help but leave your thirst unquenched when the end credits roll. It’s about as straightforward as any movie can get: plane crashes, people argue, people find common inspiration and work as one to get out of their mess. I’m not spoiling anything, you’ll get pretty much that same information on the blurb in back of the DVD and while you may expect more to happen, it never really does. There’s something to be said about a movie that keeps its plot very simple though. There aren’t any risks taken so no obvious failures. You get your standard array of characters: the gruff pilot (Quaid), the cute optimist (Otto), the religious Hispanic dude, the smart-ass urban black dude, the tall, simple Midwestern dude, the corporate suit, etc. It actually reminded me of the poor man’s ALIVE without the likeable crew, the knowledge that it was based on a true story and the little detail about eating people. Instead, we get people grooving to a hip hop song in the middle of the desert.
There was also a bit to be desired about some of the character development and considering there was only one character with more than a single dimension, it wouldn’t have been that difficult to build up. Giovanni Ribisi’s role as Elliott – the man behind the makeshift plane – was central to the story and so were his moods and humors. Unfortunately, we never got a sense of where he came from, where he was going and why he was acting the way he was. The rest of the characters were totally replaceable and they’d been developed in countless other films before so there was no need to spend any time on that. The fact that there was really no “enemy” or challenges worth mentioning didn’t help either. If the saying is true that a film is only as good as its bad guy, then what do you say about a film that doesn’t have one? An acceptable effort that does provide a buck and a half’s worth of entertainment but despite Quaid’s natural charisma, unfortunately never shakes that feeling of just being there.
The features package starts off with a very regular Full Length Audio Commentary Track by Director John Moore, Producers Wyck Godfrey & John Davis and Production Designer Patrick Lumb. That’s followed by The Phoenix Diaries (40 mins), a very complete and frankly, quite excellent making of feature. It goes into a lot of detail and content-wise is probably even fuller than the actual film. Also included are a set each of Deleted Scenes and Extended/Alternate Scenes and the Theatrical Trailer.
Renting this movie on a slow night won’t be disastrous but it won’t make the evening either. This very forgettable piece of fluff unfortunately packs little enough punch to be able to leave anyone entirely indifferent. If you feel the storyline might appeal to you, you’re better off renting the original and letting the late, great Jimmy Stewart be your desert tour guide.