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   Movie Reviews: Flight of the Phoenix
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by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Studio:
     20th Century Fox
Plot:
     A group of air crash survivors are stranded in the Mongolian desert with no hope of rescue.
Cast:
     Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto, Sticky Fingaz, Hugh Laurie
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     **

Coverage:

Just when we thought we were safe from terrible remakes, moviegoers have been served yet another turkey – just in time for Christmas. This tale of plane crash survivors, who escape the desert by building a new plane from the wreckage of the old one, doesn't quite compare to the 1965 James Stewart original and crashes within 30 minutes of the plot.

Frank Towns (Quaid) and A.J. (Gibson) are cargo pilots sent to Mongolia to pick up the crew of an oil-rigging operation. The disgruntled bunch includes group leader Kelly (Otto), the only female, her boss Ian (Laurie), Jeremy (Sticky Fingaz) and the mystery Elliott (Ribisi), a drifter who happened to be "backpacking" through the remote area for no explored reason and correctly predicts the plane’s demise. En route back to civilization (Beijing), their flight is hampered by a brilliantly computer generated sandstorm and crashes into the Gobi desert losing parts of the aircraft and the radio along the way. Most of the passengers survive, but are faced with a lack of supplies and oppressive heat. The nearest town is 200 miles away; they have a few cans of peaches, enough water for 30 days, and absolutely no hope of rescue. But just when all hope is almost lost, Elliott, claiming to be an aircraft expert suggests they build another plane out of the old wreckage. With fraying nerves and a pack Asian nomads gunning for their throats, they all agree to the plan and arduously begin the mission impossible, working through the night to preserve their water supply, which would be needed most during the hot days. It then becomes a race against time to get the plane finished before the marauding nomads attack, and who would survive long enough to board the Phoenix – which by the way is named after the mythical bird that is reborn from its own ashes.

The idea of being stranded with a bunch of infuriating strangers, in scorching temperatures trying to work together to accomplish something seemingly impossible may sound intriguing, but ‘Flight’ fails to delve deeper into a semi plausible storyline. There’s no real shred of suspense or danger. Their brief encounter with the bandits misses a chance to provide what could have been the film’s real conflict, adding there was no visual evidence of the sun’s scorching heat – no chapped lips, sunburn or anything remotely similar. The performances can be easily categorized as either discordant (Quaid) or wooden (Laurie) and none of the roles seem to be a stretch for the actor assigned the part, all with the exception of Ribisi.

There are some decent special effects and plenty of intense and memorable moments, but with a predictable storyline and a bunch of stereotypical characters, Flight of the Phoenix barely takes off. With a few minor adjustments, this action adventure just might have soared a little higher on the radar for it has a very strong start but a very lackluster finish.

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