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Overall Rating
2.95

Awesome: 5.08%
Worth A Look: 22.03%
Average44.07%
Pretty Bad: 20.34%
Total Crap: 8.47%

5 reviews, 29 user ratings


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Flight of the Phoenix (2004)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"An oddly dull adventure that never quite achieves take-off."
3 stars

About halfway through “Flight of the Phoenix”, there is one of those scenes that is so ill-conceived that it pretty much encapsulates the entire film. A group of plane-crash survivors, who have been stranded in the desert for an extended period of time with little food or water and an even smaller chance of rescue, have decided to attempt to rescue themselves by rebuilding the plane that they crashed. For once, they are feeling good about themselves, so how do they (and the filmmakers) express this? They have someone crank up a boombox playing Outkast and dance around with big grins on their faces to the tune of “Hey Ya!” as if they are now in a beach party movie. Whatever danger or tension had existed up to that point disappears for good and the only compensating factor is that there wasn’t much of it to lose in the first place.

Updating the basic premise of the 1965 Robert Aldrich film, this revision stars Dennis Quaid as a pilot sent out to retrieve the workers from a failed oil well on the outskirts of Mongolia and bring them home. After picking up the group, headed by Miranda Otto, the plane hits an enormous sandstorm and crashes miles off-course in the middle of the Gobi desert. Although company stooge Hugh Laurie is convinced that rescue is imminent (it is their “corporate responsibility:, after all), it soon becomes clear that the only choices they have are whether they want to die of thirst, starvation, exposure or at the hands of the savage nomads that are patrolling the surrounding area. Before long, a weirdo (Giovanni Ribisi), who was hitching a ride with the drillers, hits upon a brilliant idea; using his knowledge of aerodynamics and the materials and equipment that they possess, they can rebuild a smaller plane out of the wreckage of the larger one and fly themselves out of danger.

Even though the original film, no great masterpiece itself, ran for nearly 150 minutes, it moved quickly, maintained a certain level of tension and was relatively free of the kinds of cliché moments that can bog down stories of this type. This time around, despite running about forty minutes shorter, the proceedings seem to drag on forever and every character has one personality trait that they display endlessly. Quaid cruises through his part solely on his charm-normally that would be enough, but having just seen him deliver a wonderfully shaded performance in the upcoming “In Good Company”, I wanted to see more of the strong character actor he has become instead of the good ol’ boy he used to be. Otto is strangely colorless-you would think that a woman running an all-male oil rig in Mongolia would have a lot more personality than the character on display here. The most memorable performance is also the most inexplicable-Ribisi has chosen to play his squirrelly character as if he were a member of the Fourth Reich, right down to the dyed-blond hair and the vaguely Germanic accent. It is a bit of acting that is so flamboyantly awful that you can’t take your eyes off of it.

Other than that, “Flight of the Phoenix” is an oddly dull adventure that, no pun intended, never really achieves take-off. The crash sequence, clearly intended as the spectacular highlight of the film, comes off as flat-it is well-staged, I suppose, but pales in comparison to the ones on display in “The Aviator”. Even the penultimate moment in which our heroes finally escape in their jerry-rigged plane lacks any sense of urgency; instead of being the emotional climax, it comes off pretty much as an afterthought. Like the fabled bird it takes its title from (and yes, there is even a speech explaining its significance to the three people out there who have never heard of a phoenix), “Flight of the Phoenix” goes down in flames-unfortunately, this one never quite recovers.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11347&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/17/04 23:21:12
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User Comments

7/10/17 Stuart Nomad was wearing modern tennis shoes when dragged away. 3 stars
5/16/10 dr.evil The inbred & Quaid discussion @ the site of the shot guy is silly laughable 1 stars
12/01/08 Roz Not as good as the original, but I still enjoyed it 4 stars
5/16/08 PAUL SHORTT LOUD, NOISY, CHAOTIC AND OVERALL UNPLEASANT 1 stars
2/09/07 Soranos I often found myself, not watching the screen. It's Interesting at some parts though. 3 stars
1/24/07 Matt Plot holes you can park a 747 in, but good fun. Quaid stands out. 4 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini very good 4 stars
10/29/06 Marty i was embarrassed for the movie 2 stars
8/13/06 George Brought 2U by hollywood cliches 'R' us. 3 stars
12/05/05 millersxing Cluttered with cliche and irrelevant claptrap. 1 stars
10/31/05 Quigley does the word "unnecessary" mean anything? totally predictable, but well-acted 3 stars
10/22/05 Jack Script is horrible - acting is worse - Ribisi amusing. 1 stars
9/18/05 Bad Critic Very predictable and lame. Don't waste you time. 2 stars
6/18/05 stage did not see 1st movie. perhaps that's why I enjoyed so much. Very interesting script. 4 stars
6/13/05 Terry Hercher Writing:excellent (some dialogue transcends time); character development:superb; 5 stars
5/08/05 Valerie pretty good! 4 stars
4/16/05 Carol Conway Passed the time pretty well 3 stars
3/26/05 hannaho Eh, it's okay, but it certainly will not overshadow the original. 3 stars
3/24/05 Joe I want my 99 cents back 1 stars
3/21/05 Kyle Pretty hoaky. Token female char rediculous. DQ shirtless worth seeing! 2 stars
3/17/05 rick compared to the original this stinks 2 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens Look's boring 2 stars
3/04/05 Phyllis Skoglund My expectations were high so I was let down; I won't buy this “Flight of the Phoenix". 3 stars
2/23/05 Debi Gosert Convincing action-adventure in the best sense. Based on a true story? 5 stars
1/10/05 jeff good comic story. acting could have been better. 4 stars
1/07/05 Elizabeth S Thin characterizations and logic lapses, but kind of fun. 3 stars
12/27/04 Lord Jiggy a comic-book movie (see Goldman), but well done and not insulting 4 stars
12/24/04 Dan GREAT! 5 stars
12/20/04 Ray A pain in the ass 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Mar-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  21-Jul-2005


Directed by
  John Moore

Written by
  Scott Frank
  Edward Burns

Cast
  Dennis Quaid
  Giovanni Ribisi
  Tyrese Gibson
  Miranda Otto
  Hugh Laurie



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