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Flight of the Phoenix /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto, Hugh Laurie, Jared Padalecki

Directed by: John Moore

Produced by: William Aldrich, Alex Blum, Wyck Godfrey, John Davis
Written by: Scott Frank, Edward Burns
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox



     When necessary, I can sustain a considerable amount of disbelief over the predictable outcome of any given conventional movie’s plot. Sitting back and playing stupid can be fun, as long as the material one is watching is executed with enough pizzazz to remain entertaining. Flight of the Phoenix, on the other hand, was so blandly assembled that I couldn’t help but dwell on the foreseeable ending, as I viewed. The film is about a group of survivors of a plane crash, who find themselves in the Gobi Desert, with no way of returning to civilization aside from rebuilding their broken, once airborne vehicle. Now, let’s forget about the dull writing, plain direction, and average performances for a moment, and think about the full spectrum of the plot. What kind of movie would allow the hopeful and hard-working survivors to incorrectly reassemble the plane and then die brutal deaths? Not one made in Hollywood.

     Putting the obvious and predictable plot aside, the movie is completely average. Director John Moore seems to be intent on repeating the same gimmick, throughout the entire film. Nothing exciting happens in Flight of the Phoenix; aside from their brutal encounter with nomadic tribes in the desert, the group of survivors does nothing but rebuild their plane, for the entire duration. Wrenches, saws, and sweat usually make for nice five minute montages in movies, but when stretched to near feature length, they become tedious and boring. Led by a supposed plane engineer named Elliot (Giovanni Ribisi), the survivors are aware that there is only enough power available to test the plane a few times. As a result, there isn’t much guess-and-check involved in the whole process. Variety is essential in making a movie of this nature succeed, and, unsurprisingly, is one of the many areas that Flight of the Phoenix certainly lacks in. Each member of the diverse ensemble of actors even seems to look the same after awhile. This is probably because everyone—aside from the somewhat interesting Ribisi—shares the common-ground of having little-to-no talent, whatsoever.

     “Uninspired” is the most accurate adjective one could use to describe Flight of the Phoenix. Remade from the original 1965 James Stewart movie, which I have not yet seen, it merely serves as the latest cash-in vehicle to come out of Hollywood. (Unfortunately for the studio, Twentieth Century Fox, however, it has also become an undisputed box-office dud). Flight of the Phoenix may eventually make for an inoffensive cable viewing, but when so many other, better movies that have much more to say exist, I think it’s safe to say that one would be better off avoiding it. Why, in a world full of ideas and life, does mainstream cinema have to continue to be so dopey? Can the average person really enjoy Flight of the Phoenix, wholeheartedly? I suppose I shouldn’t be questioning things that do not have concrete answers. Then again, it’s all in the nature of deep thought, something that Flight of the Phoenix does not know how to do.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (12.26.2004)

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