Genre: Action/Aventure
Director: John Moore
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese, Miranda Otto, Hugh Laurie
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG

Released Date: 3 Feb 2005

Synopsis (Courtesy from 20th Century Fox):

After a plane crashes in the middle of the desert and its survivors realize there is no hope of outside rescue, the passengers have to fight against heat, sand, nomads and each other and their own sanity while they attempt to re-build a plane in the hopes of flying back to civilization.

Movie Review:

Based on the screenplay of the 1965 original starring Jimmy Stewart, Flight of the Phoenix is an old-school B-movie adventure made with the crackerjack style of an MTV video. Although it is an overwrought, over-produced epic drowning in too-much style, Scott Frank (Dead Again) and Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen) have done such a thoroughly decent job of scripting this update. With Moore casting his canaille group of characters so amazingly well, its immanently watchable. Sure, it’s a bit of a mess, but it’s an entertaining mess.

Here's the story: a group of outcasts, drilling for oil in the Mongolian desert. Their employer decides that the costs outweigh the benefits, and they decide to shut down the site. None of the employees know this until a plane arrives carrying disgruntled pilot Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and his co-pilot, AJ (Tyrese Gibson). The team leader (Miranda Otto) immediately storms into the office of Ian (Hugh Laurie), the site accountant, to protest. She loses, and the crew dismantles their equipment and boards the plane, tagging along too, Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi), the Mysterious Stranger. And as the rest of the plot goes: sandstorm, plane crash, attempts at survival, decision to rebuild plane, plane flies. End of story. Yes it flies! They wouldn’t call the movie “Flight of the Phoenix” for nothing right?

No big surprise for the dozens of flaws but Flight of the Phoenix is quite entertaining for a bad movie. Part of the fun is figuring out what's going to go wrong next. Thanks to Burns, you'll probably be wrong at least a couple of times. You'll also probably a) recoil and/or b) jump in your seat at least a few times. Sure, there are plenty of clichés and the end result is obvious. Despite the stylized flick, my opinion is it needs to show a little restraint and let the action come naturally, not force-feed it into our faces every few minutes under the wrong impression that we might be getting bored.

Performances from the cast were rather bland but sprinkled with occasional dramatic occurrence just to spice the plot up. There wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before but reasonably passable without any remembrance. Setting apart from the rest is the lone stranger played by no other than Giovanni Ribisi, who is hilarious (and deadly serious, which is the only way to play the part) as Elliott, with a high, nasal voice that stays almost unbearable to the point of loving to hate him for his character. Elliott is a strange little man, and Ribisi doesn't reveal any of his secrets, though one gets the sense that the actor knows them all. On the other hand, it feels a bit ridiculous to even mention things like characters' inner lives, because we're talking about an action-adventure film. This isn't some highbrow adaptation of an acclaimed novel.

Flight of the Phoenix isn't intentionally campy, nor is it a contemporary B-movie. It's an assortment of mostly A-list characters in a predictable, fast-paced action-adventure movie. Sure, the premise is flawed and the situation is inherently impossible. But given those factors, Burns came up with a decent script, and Ribisi alone makes the thing worth watching. If you want two hours of pure escapism - board this Flight.

Movie Rating: B-

Review by Lokman B.S

  Publicity Stills of "Flight of the Phoenix" (Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

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