After a horrific plane crash that claimed the lives of hundreds, heir to a big-time airline company Chuck Devain has developed a solution that will prevent pilots from committing such wanton disaster: an advanced AI module hardwired into the cockpit that will ensure that planes fly and land safely, negating human error. That's all well and good, but on a flight to demonstrate the awesomeness of this new and untested technology, the AI succumbs to a computer virus, causing the plane to fly into an oncoming storm. It's up to Tom Woodward and his wife to save the day.
Okay, so we all know flying by plane is statistically the safest way to travel. We all know that films like ALIVE! and AIRPORT exploit the section of statistics that fall into the "not safe" category, albeit with happy consequences. Directed by Fred Olen Ray of HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS fame, TURBULENT SKIES tries to put a twist on airplane thrillers by adding in a bit of technology gone amuck, as well as packing in familiar faces like Casper "I was in STARSHIP TROOPERS" Van Dien and Brad "Chucky" Dourif. With a premise like this, the key word is 'try'.
Let's face it, the best parts of this film involve Brad Dourif chewing the scenery as Chuck Devain's father Richard, owner of the airline company that develops the AI. Dourif's a great character actor, and brings a bit of levity to the film with his mannerisms. Contrasting Dourif's likeable character is Pat Muldoon playing Chuck Devain, who tries at every opportunity to be the sniveling son (and bad guy) who you want to hate, as well as reminding everyone that he's in charge. It's easy to hate him, but for the wrong reasons of him being such an obvious sleazeball. Meanwhile, Casper Van Dien and Nicole Eggert are kind of wooden with their portrayals as a couple with a rocky relationship that predictably gets back on track by the end of the film.
In case you're wondering, TURBULENT SKIES is predictable and derivative as they come. You know how the movie will turn out, and which characters are so obviously the heroes/villains. And because of the film telegraphing everything, there's also a big lack of suspense to be found while watching it, which is a big no-no when you're trying to create a thriller. I give credit to Fred Olen Ray for managing shoestring budget films in the past, but this film is just a complete rehash of other films involving out of control planes that need landing. Those of you who are into such a film will probably find solace in something other than this one. Everyone else will probably find something else.
Video: A pretty standard 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colours are good with no sort of dirt or print damage. There aren't any sort of compression artifacts, although there are some instances of edge enhancement.
Audio: A standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is our sole choice this time. Nothing incredibly spectacular with this one. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand with no distortion. Nothing to write home about, but it does the job.
Nothing, not even a super-secret Casper Van Dien photo.
Derivative and predictable, TURBULENT SKIES will probably not hold much of any interest for anyone unless you want to build a case for legitimately hating Pat Muldoon. Brad Dourif aside, everyone acts disinterested in what's going on here. Throw in a video and audio presentation that does the job and nothing more, there's not much else to expect from a TV movie like this one.