Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Flight of the Phoenix

Flight of the Phoenix is a remake of the 1965 film starring James Stewart which was based on Elleston Trevor's novel of the same name. Dennis Quaid stars as Captain Frank Towns who, with his navigator A.J. (Tyrese Gibson), has flown a C-119 cargo plane to the middle of Mongolia's Gobi Desert to pick up a crew of oil workers and their equipment from a test drilling site that is being shut down because of lack of success in finding any deposits. Hugh Laurie (Blackadder, House) is Ian, the corporate stiff-neck who's assessments have caused the pullout of company funding for the project, much to the chagrin of Kelly, the foreman and lead visionary of the project who is portrayed by Miranda Otto (Eowyn of the second and third installments of the Lord of the Rings trilogy). After some unsurprising tension between Towns and the roughnecks, as well as tension between the roughnecks and management, the plane is packed and ready for takeoff along with the addition of an unexpected passenger in the form of an odd and stranded traveler named Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi). Soon after takeoff the plane is caught in a sandstorm to end all sandstorms and, because of a tactical error or two, ends up crash landing in the desert with no communications, very little water, no hope of rescue and the very large threat of being killed by nomadic smugglers if the heat and lack of water doesn't kill them first. As the desperation grows and they inch closer to social anarchy, it is Elliott who comes through with an idea of survival rivaled in size only by the secret that he's keeping.

Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a great movie by any means but, for me, it was very entertaining and fun. The characters are believable, the scenery is amazing, the effects are top-notch and the soundtrack really keeps things moving. There are only a few "slow" moments in the movie and those moments are used primarily to advance the story or the understanding of a character. The movie's lighter segments are spaced perfectly between the more intense moments and help make this film one that can be seen several times with little or no wear on the viewer.

Aside from the primary cast, some of the crew characters are made up of a few familiar faces. Kirk Jones, better known as the rapper "Sticky Fingaz" puts forth a very adequate performance as Jeremy who has a good friendship with Rodney, played by actor Tony Curran of such films as Gladiator, Underworld: Evolution, Blade II and The Good German. Another familiar face is that of the crew's spiritual voice, Raddy, portrayed by Kevork Malikyan who you may recognize as Kizim, the leader of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword; the organization that protected the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Again, this movie may never end up on any "greatest" list, but, if you're in the mood for simple fun, good action, an against the odds plot line and enjoy a robust soundtrack, then you may find yourself watching this film more than once.

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