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Miranda Otto's character, an engineer, is named "Kelly Johnson". Kelly Johnson is the name of a legendary aircraft engineer for Lockheed who designed the P-38 Lightning fighter of WWII (like the C-119, a unique twin-boom fuselage design). Later he ran the Lockheed "Skunk Works" which secretly produced the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes. In view of the fact that aircraft design is a key element of the plot, it is unlikely that the name is a coincidence. See more »
About halfway through the film, when Rady is telling the cook, Sammi, a joke about a Rabbi and a Priest, a crew member is clearly visible walking up and standing behind some webbing to the left of the screen (inside the plane). See more »
[to Towns, about the makeshift plane]
The design is perfect, the only flaw is that we have to rely on you to fly it.
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Remake season is usually from May-August, yet for some reason Flight of the Phoenix is coming out in December, right before Oscar season. From what I saw tonight, there were maybe 15 people in the theater for a 7:50 Friday evening showing (opening night). What could Fox have been thinking? A big budget blockbuster while we're waiting for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or The Aviator to come out? Does that make any sense? Well, anyway, Phoenix certainly doesn't deserve a December release (April, maybe?), but it's still pure, simple escapist entertainment. Thankfully, it didn't try to be anything more (in fact, Dennis Quaid's character made fun of the inspirational talks in the movie), allowing it to be something to see on a boring Friday night.
When an unsuccessful oil drill is abandoned in a remote place in Asia, Frank Towns (Quaid) and others are sent to fly them back to civilization. However, there's one extra person on board, Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi), causing the plane to be overweight and crashing in the midst of a gigantic random storm. Things get hairier when they realize that help probably won't come. However, Elliot mentions that he designs airplanes (of course), and now they're hell-bent on rebuilding their plane (dubbed "The Phoenix"), while going through tough weather, low supplies, bandits, and interpersonal relationship hardships.
One almost expects Jerry Bruckheimer's name on this-it's mindless fun, with any plot being stupid, any special effect being fake, and any characters being underdeveloped. The fate of this movie, in my opinion, was in the hands of director John Moore, who last made Behind Enemy Lines a hit for Fox. During the so-called "action" scenes, Moore switches over to hand-held camera (as if he tries to get the audience to get into the movie-makes us think that a situation like this could happen in real life?) and really makes the movie disjointed at those few points. However, some of the shots are pretty fantastic looking, but at other times, it's completely false CGI. I mean, it's terribly fake-and some critics have been saying that the special effects are great? It's most obviously some backlot with fake sanddunes everywhere. And yet, somehow, Moore manages to keep interest for the two hours, and, more importantly, makes it fun to watch. When you have characters just randomly be introduced (like that person of unknown Middle Eastern descent and the black guy with an eyepatch), you realize that the plot is not important, and you focus on having fun.
I've seen a few ads that talk about the "HUGE" plot twist, and although the twist at the end was pretty good, it's not really noteworthy. However, there was something about Ribisi's character-and the way he played it-that made me really like him. He's like the bad guy in movies where you want the bad guy to win (although he's not really a bad guy here). Quaid does a pretty good job here, about what's required. His character, and all the others, fulfill the stock characters. We have the All-American pilot, the hot, smart woman (who's also sassy-add an extra point), the black guy, a black guy with an eyepatch (a disability AND an extra minority-five extra points), a person from a place that we currently hate (Middle East (actually two-Britain-wow, Flight of the Phoenix is raking up the point)), the computer nerd. And that's just the character clichés. There's boatloads more, but you'll be able to guess them as they come along.
Flight of the Phoenix will probably bomb at the box office. I suppose I can see why-you don't have enough advertising, you bomb. But Flight of the Phoenix is a true popcorn movie if there ever was one. Once you've gotten everything in the Netflix catalogue, try this one on for size.
My rating: 6/10
Rated PG-13 for some language, action and violence.
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