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Flight Blu-ray Review (Highly Recommended)



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#1 of 9 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted February 03 2013 - 02:06 PM

Flight is a powerful examination of human nature and addiction. It is a veneer-less reveal of the grip alcohol and drugs can have on someone, and how that grip can hide just beneath the surface. Directed with care by Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump) and with a powerfully nuanced and unflinching performance by Denzel Washington, Flight is excellence on every level and a surprisingly candid and contained view of one man’s unraveling.


 

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Flight
 


Studio: Paramount Pictures
Year: 2012
US Rating: R for Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Language, Sexuality/Nudity and an intense action sequence

Film Length: 138 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Release Date: February 5, 2013
Review Date: February 3, 2013

 

“Hey, don't tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I've been lying about my drinking my whole life”

 

The Film

4.5/ 5
 

Whip Whitaker enters the cockpit of his plane, ready to safely fly 102 souls to their Florida destination, despite the storm conditions. He is high on cocaine, still drunk from the night before and operating on barely any sleep. It is a regular day for Whip. During the flight, the plane begins to nose dive. Dropping out of the sky at terrifying speed, Whip maintains an experienced calm, maneuvering the massive jet into a bizarre inverse position, controlling the crash and saving lives. It is the beginning of the end. Surviving the plane crash relatively unscathed, it is the aftermath and his fall from grace as a hero of the crash where Whip suffers his greatest pains. Whip’s condition at the time of the flight, his part in the heroics, and the demons he faces become an unstoppable spiral into which he is thrust.

It has been 12 years since Robert Zemeckis took the reins of a live-action film. His last, Cast Away, was a commercial and critical success for which the plot catalyst was a visceral and violent plane crash. Interesting that his return to live-action storytelling would pivot on that same type of event, though Flight is a wholly different experience. One might have expected the intervening years between Cast Away and Flight – making motion capture animated features (Beowulf, A Christmas Carol) – would have influenced his filmmaking style in a materially outward way, but if there has been any effect at all, it is that he sought a grounding of his treatment of the material; a more natural embrace of the drama at hand, and a heightened gift for drawing out superb performances.

Denzel Washington’s Academy Award nominated portrayal of Whip Whitaker is brilliant. A tortured soul with the hero and the villain of who he is and what he did grappling for dominance as the story unfolds. It is a performance of intimacy and weight with Washington at his very best. We watch the character of Whip very closely. He is the forefront of the story as the turmoil of the NTSB investigation, and the light shining on Whip’s woes plays out around him, and we can’t take our eyes off of how Washington becomes the troubles man.

Denzel may be the central figure of this film, but he is surrounded by a fine ensemble supporting cast. Bruce Greenwood as Charlie Anderson, Whitaker’s good friend, is solid as always, and Don Cheadle as Hugh Lang, the chief lawyer and strategic protector of Whitaker and the interests of the Airline union, plays his moral vacillation of Whitaker’s vices very directly. Stealing the show in the few scenes he appears is John Goodman, as Harling Mays. Goodman delights serving as Whitaker’s dealer and his lure into the devilish (and dangerous) delights of life. He provides the dark comedic vein, the enabler to Whitaker’s demons earning smiles despite the kind of man he is. The rest of the cast includes talents like Kelly Reilly, Melissa Leo, and Brian Geraghty who, as the co-pilot on the tragic flight, plays two quite important roles in the context of the story, neither particularly subtle in the grand scheme of things, but key nonetheless. The first is the representation of fear. His reaction to the plane going down serves as the embodiment of the audience reaction. The second is as the quintessence of the occasional religious overtones the film displays. I say overtone, but in reality is plays more like a character in the film though likely not in the way you might expect. It is present throughout – from the consideration of the crash as an “act of God” to the attendance of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but always as merely a mention and not pushed or forced. It isn’t preaching – not by any stretch – but it is interesting how it plays.

Flight was written by John Gatins who earned an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay. Gatins’ work is an astutely natural and honest achievement, the product of great insight into human nature, official process and the toll substance abuse has on the abuser and those around them. Though he finds himself in tough competition with the likes of Django Unchained, Amour and Zero Dark Thirty, his place among the nominees is well-earned.

 

The Video

5/5
 

Shot digitally using the Red Epic Camera, Cinematographer Don Burgess keeps the proceedings grounded. A natural feel in lighting inside and outside are dominant and the overall level of detail and clarity is exemplary. One scene demonstrates perfectly just how flawless the image is. Don Cheadle is standing with Denzel Washington overlooking the field where the crash took place. The detail on Don Cheadle’s face and clothes even in the mostly medium shot is wonderful. Flesh tones throughout are natural, detail observable even in darker, quieter scenes, and there are no issues – banding, digital tinkering – to sully the experience. An excellent image.

 

The Sound

4.5/5

 

Flight contains a relatively quiet soundtrack save for litter of classic songs and the sounds of crash and the hum of the jet engines, but the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is entirely appropriate to the picture. Clearly the crash sequence is the most active scene for the audio, and it is pulled off with a great clarity in the audio as everything from the subwoofer to the surrounds plays a key part in gripping us. A character-driven, dialogue heavy film where the conversations are of enormous importance, the audience is pulled in by the natural levels and these levels are not overpowered by ambient sounds. The balance is subtle and superb for the film and Alan Silvestri provides a sweet and fitting underscore (I do prefer this Silvestri over the bombastic, action-oriented composer responsible for films like The Avengers and Captain America)

 

The Extras

3/5

Paramount Pictures delivers just the bare minimum of special features for the release of Flight on home video, with just about 40 minutes of extras; a shame given the superb craft on display in the film itself and the opportunity to share more of what it took to bring this memorable picture to fruition. The Origins featurette covers where the idea for the story came from and the short Making Of discusses the short production shoot and modest budget. Anatomy of a Plane Crash is an examination of that key scene and the Q&A highlights is relatively interesting. A code to own a cloud/digital version of the film is also available.


Disc One – Blu-Ray
Feature film in High Definition
Origins of Flight
The Making of Flight
Anatomy of a Plane Crash
Q&A Highlights

Disc Two - DVD
Feature film in Standard Definition

 

 

Final Thoughts
 

In Flight, Denzel Washington’s character’s unexpected journey takes off when the plane comes crashing down. His flight becomes a harrowing personal journey riddled with withdrawal, personal shame, grief and the struggle for redemption. Like all great dramas, not all the pieces are in place when the credits begin rolling, but we are better for having flown with Whip, even if it was just for a while.

Flight comes highly recommended.

 

Overall (Not an average)

4.5/5


Neil Middlemiss
Kernersville, NC


"Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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#2 of 9 TravisR

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Posted February 03 2013 - 02:38 PM

I liked this one quite a bit. I was surprised by how dark the tone of the movie was. The crash sequence is really incredible and suspenseful. Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly (who I don't recall seeing before) and Don Cheadle all turn in good performances and John Goodman has a small but very memorable part.

#3 of 9 Adam Gregorich

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Posted February 03 2013 - 03:45 PM

I never saw this in the theater, but its on my short list for Blu-ray.



#4 of 9 Kevin EK

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Posted February 03 2013 - 08:44 PM

MULTIPLE SPOILERS IN THIS POST:

The power of Washington's performance here is that he gets you to root for him even after the character does things that make you want to scream at the screen.  On at least three occasions, I literallly yelled "You have GOT to be kidding me!", and then I'd be hoping he'd figure it out in the next scene.  Which is probably similar to the level of denial Whitaker lives in.   Several scenes really got to me.  The scene in the hospital stairwell with James Badge Dale was heartbreaking.  The initial look on the co-pilot's face when Whitaker visits him in the hospital is blood-curdling.  The scene in the church where Whitaker tries to pressure the flight attendant was one that had me voicing various names out loud.  The one scene where he visits his ex-wife and son got me because the age of the son was so much older than the home movie footage we see - it tells you how many years Whitaker has been living in this pit.  And of course, there's the great blow-up by Whitaker where he announces "I'm drinking because I choose to drink!"   John Goodman nearly steals the movie, hands down.  My only issue with the movie was that the direction goes over the top at several crucial moments.  Most particularly, that one shot of the hand reaching into the frame is just too much.  The scene was already going over the line in the first place, but making that much of a meal out of the shot completely took me out of the movie.


One thing to know is that this was a considerably lower budget than you'd think a Zemeckis movie would be.  Both Zemeckis and Washington took greatly reduced salaries to help keep the budget down.  And the one big budget moment is that crash.  The rest of the movie is actually fairly quiet - as it should be.  Hopefully, this presages a return to regular live action filmmaking by Zemeckis.



#5 of 9 Neil Middlemiss

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Posted February 07 2013 - 05:51 AM

Check out my interview with Bruce Greenwood HERE.




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#6 of 9 theonemacduff

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Posted February 08 2013 - 04:46 AM

Nice job on the interview! I always liked Greenwood. He's one of those actors who's been around for years, and always turns in good work, even though he rarely gets a chance at the top spot on a picture (13 Days being the sort-of exception). Double Jeopardy; World's Fastest Indian; Deja Vu; and the list goes on. He's kind of like John Goodman; whatever he does, his presence lifts the picture up a little higher than it otherwise would be.

#7 of 9 Kevin EK

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Posted February 08 2013 - 06:20 AM

I remember Bruce Greenwood's performance on St. Elsewhere in their final two years back in the mid 1980s.  That was the first time I saw his work, and I've noted his many appearances since then.



#8 of 9 Johnny Angell

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Posted February 08 2013 - 08:09 AM

Nice job on the interview! I always liked Greenwood. He's one of those actors who's been around for years, and always turns in good work, even though he rarely gets a chance at the top spot on a picture (13 Days being the sort-of exception). Double Jeopardy; World's Fastest Indian; Deja Vu; and the list goes on. He's kind of like John Goodman; whatever he does, his presence lifts the picture up a little higher than it otherwise would be.

I liked him in 13 days and was a little surprised it didn't lead to starring roles. He's one of those actors that when you see him you think "they were serious about making a good movie."
Johnny
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#9 of 9 bujaki

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Posted February 08 2013 - 12:04 PM

Bruce Greenwood has also been featured in several of Atom Egoyan's movies: The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat, Exotica... Check him out in these very good movies.





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