FLIGHT OF THE
Anyone who knows my reviews knows I hate remakes almost as much as I hate Jessica Simpson, the flu, and reality shows, and I especially hate remakes of classics that starred the great Jimmy Stewart, so when a remake of "Flight of the Phoenix" was toted around magazines I took it upon myself to watch the original, and resulting from what I've seen, the remake isn't as bad as I was sure it was going to be. This time around we have a more flashy action filled installment as is always the case, but the concept and material isn't lost in the flash and big time special effects, thank goodness.
This tale about a group of misfits this time centers around a group of failed oil well mechanics whose rig was just closed by Frank Townes now played by Dennis Quaid who fills in for the Jimmy Stewart role; on the way to Beijing, they're confronted by an incredulous sandstorm and it knocks them out of the sky crashing them into the desert. Now with water running low, heat exhaustion running high, and nomads on their tail, they have to take the scraps of plane and, led by a snivelly plane designer named Elliot, they have to band together and fly home or die.
There are some noticeable changes this time around with the politically correct cast additions of a female member and two new black characters, a different feel for cast chemistry, a more odd flow for filmmaking reminiscent of "Three Kings", and more action. I liked the original film a lot better simply for it's desperation of plot, but this remake is still very good. First off, with points in its favor, it has a good cast like Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto, and the talents of great character actors like Jacob Vargas, and Hugh Laurie. Quaid has experienced a recent resurrection in his career and here he's great as the leading man Townes.
His character feels a lot different from the humble character of Townes in the original film, but he's nonetheless a great character, then there's Ribisi who takes over the role that Hardy Kruger made so despicable and would do him proud because he's equally unlikable here. Ribisi is able to make the character his own while channeling Kruger's own persona as the annoying and often obnoxious character Elliot who takes it upon himself to give the survivors a hard time. While this was almost as good as the original film, the problem was simple but also very pivotal. There's not a compelling character in the bunch. With the acting talents of Dennis Quaid, Miranda Otto, Hugh Laurie, and Giovanni Ribisi, it's hard to believe that there's not one character in the bunch who I was actually interested in getting to know. The original film had much more of a compelling cast of characters to like, including Jimmy Stewart's aging airplane pilot whom no one respected, and many other outcasts that we actually believed were outcasts to begin with. Other than that, none of them really caught my eye, including rapper Sticky Fingaz who doesn't really do a lot. It's hard to believe any of them are really outcasts.
The original film had it's villain, the annoying and sinister Hardy Kruger who was actually a character, but we never get any explanation to Ribisi's characters origin other than "He just showed up one day" which demotes him from character to cheap and blatant plot device that audiences will find very transparent. If that doesn't top it off, Moore goes for safety here with a lot of cliche devices like the obligatory villain (as if nature and desert heat wasn't enough), the raiders which have no personality and are just plain stereotypical, and the occasional convenient sandstorm which shows up at the right times to create difficulties for the characters chances of escaping, and then he doesn't slow down the pace of the story to give us time to settle in. Then if that wasn't enough, he manages to go for a really cheesy ending showing the result of how the characters ended up through a music and photo montage which was just really hoky and corny.The film, directed by John Moore creates a very surreal portrait of the desert while making it also very claustrophobic. I enjoyed a lot of the odd sequences involving the picture scenarios of dying in the desert, and the one scene where one of the characters meets a grueling fate makes this a well made flick.
The film also sports some great special effects in its corner with stunning sequences including the sand storm in the beginning. There's a lot of star power like the first one had, and instead of great people like Jimmy Stewart and Ernest Borgnine we have some other great people filling in for them like the always good Dennis Quaid who I always enjoy as the gravely voiced every man, and then there's Giovanni Ribisi who can play anything and Miranda Otto whose great here. Then there's Tyrese whose actually likable here as Townes' sidekick and co-pilot along with Laurie who has a very powerful scene in the climax. I liked this a lot I must say (he said, with a gaping wide jaw of shock) and I can't believe it was almost as good as the original. The atmosphere of searing heat and isolation of the desert is pulled off well and the adventure motif is pulled off very well. Great performances, and good direction make for a very good popcorn flick, and I'm still taken aback by its great elements.
Though I had many reservations with the story and certain characters, this is just as good as the original. Though not perfect, this still holds up as a good remake with great acting, good special effects and a good story that still holds up.