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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Flight of the Phoenix (1 Viewer)

Michael Osadciw

Screenwriter
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Jun 24, 2003
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Michael Osadciw


FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX





Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 2004

U.S. Rating: PG-13
Canadian Rating: 14A

Film Length: 113 minutes
Genre: Action Adventure

Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $29.98






Release Date: March 1, 2005.



Entertainment Rating: :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

Starring: Dennis Quaid (Frank Towns), Tyrese (A.J.), Giovanni Ribisi (Elliott), Miranda Otto (Kelly), Tony Curran (Rodney), Sticky Fingaz (Jeremy), Jacob Vargas (Sammi), Hugh Laurie (Ian)


Directed by: John Moore
Screenplay by: Scott Frank


The only way out is up.



Imagine being stranded in the middle of the scorching hot Mongolian desert. Your plane has crashed landed and is not repairable. You are with ten people with no radio, very little food and water, and a walk that will kill you no matter what direction you take. Two others are dead as a result of the crash. The 5% chance of survival looms over your head and you begin to give up hope.

Pilot Frank Towns faces this scenario after a desert sandstorm consumed his plane a caused a crash landing tearing up his Fairchild C-119 across the sandy terrain. His passengers are Amacore labourers from a failed oil mining operation, a corporate head of Amacore, and a mysterious young man named Elliot who was staying at Amacore after his “ride home” failed to pick him up. Kelly, the head of the Amacore operation in Mongolia, accepted Elliot’s company when he had no where else to go. Frank’s job was to pick up these miners but didn’t expect to bring this stranger along. He reluctantly accepted him on board.

After the storm swept up their plane and crashed them off course, Frank finds the beginning of a power struggle with Elliot. Elliot’s cold criticism about Frank’s flying causes tension between the survivors. There is also a difference of opinion of how to get out of their mess without being consumed by the sands of the desert. The July heat is not helping. To their surprise, Elliot says he builds planes for a living. After his inspection of the wreckage and an assessment of the remaining food and water supply, he claims the group of them can build a new plane out of the pieces remaining to fly themselves out. Once again, after a long power struggle of ideas, Frank reluctantly agrees to start the group on this new task.

In this story of man against nature, man against man also becomes the rising conflict as the clash of ideas between Frank and Elliot heighten. The group also find they not alone in this barren land as the threat of nomads loom in the distance. The race of time for survival is near its end; food and water are depleting, the “new” Phoenix aircraft is not finished and the group are tearing each other apart. As a result of this struggle, to the group’s dismay Elliot’s secret is revealed. He is not really who he says he is…

This film is a remake of the 1965 film bearing the same name. The previous film features James Stewart as Capt. Frank Towns although the rest of the cast has changed. The theme of the story is relatively the same; an injection of youth appeal is a certain additive as well as special effects expected from a large budget action film.

The movie is a great popcorn flick and is highly entertaining. While character development is hit and miss, we are unfortunately subjected to the typical stone cold characters of the macho and stubborn type, the moral pacifier, the eccentric British corporate puss, characters for comic relief, the mystery man, and the attractive female (the only one in the film too). While this diversity of character is good for any movie, it doesn’t always work when it’s not developed. There are at least two characters that we don’t ever get to know through this whole movie. Frankly, we could care less about what happens to them too. As the movie unravels near the end, we also see uncharacteristic changes in the attitude of some of these people that just don’t feel right.

Thankfully the movie never bores and is quite impressive in terms of special effects and scene sequences. The environments are real and not computer generated, having been filmed somewhere in Africa. Its two hour length goes by quickly and is a fun viewing all of the way through!


VIDEO QUALITY?
:star: :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

The 2.35:1 film is presented on this DVD enhanced for widescreen televisions. The video quality is superb in every respect! The tint of the film is a hot brown reflecting from the sand of the desert terrain. While the desert doesn’t offer much in terms of visual excitement, the ripples in the rolling sand dunes can be clearly seen in the backgrounds. Detail is exceptional on this DVD with only a few shots looking slightly soft. Skin tones always look natural and not too red (although you’d think a few weeks in the desert would make their skin burned red and peeling, neither of which we see here in this film). The movie takes place mostly in the daytime in the hot, bright, desert sun, although it also shows good shadow detail under the lighting the crew uses while they work through the dark night. Compression artefacts, film grain, and the dreaded edge enhancement do not pose a problem when viewing this DVD.


AUDIO QUALITY? :star: :star: :star: :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! This film soundtrack will knock your walls down! Decoding options are available in both DTS and Dolby Digital and both deliver an exceptional audio experience. The sound design for this movie begins with the loud roaring engines of Frank’s plane firing through all audio channels as we follow its course over the foreign terrain to some toe-tapping country music. Each scene provides a full surround experience; from the subtle sound of whispering wind to the full sonic assaults of the plane crash and the electrical storm, this soundtrack is an awesome experience. The tonality of the soundtrack is also very good. Treble is not aggressive at all, midrange sounds good except for some of the dialogue at the beginning of the movie. Dialogue sounds more ADR rather than taken from on the set. It’s a little forward sounding before the crash, but then becomes more spatially integrated as the movie moves on.

Bottom feeders will LOVE the bass in this movie! In many of the action scenes, my pants were fluttering from the sound pressure in my room. That rarely happens and when it does it’s usually brief. Bass is present in all channels and is very directional! Having a subwoofer coupled with each speaker location is recommended when viewing this movie to get the full effect of this dynamic soundtrack. The blowing winds of the sandstorms are aggressive in all channels, but are accompanied with blowing bass too. Wind with bass is a little unrealistic, but it’s a movie and its fun! The LFE channel seems to be used to the max as well. While my Mirage BPS-400 can handle high amounts of bass output for long periods of time, I’ll have to warn people who are summing all of the bass energy to their subwoofer to monitor it for distortion.

There are differences between the DTS and Dolby Digital soundtrack. This disc allows the user to toggle between soundtracks on the fly. Both soundtracks appear almost equal in level. When comparing the two, once again I’m hearing more bass out of the LFE on the DTS soundtrack, but a slightly higher level of bass coming from the main channels with the Dolby Digital soundtrack. There is a spatial difference as well; I listened to the last song during the end credits and listened to the percussion. The cymbals were certainly more forward and more apparent on the Dolby Digital soundtrack while they sounded further back in the soundstage but not quite as prominent on the DTS soundtrack.


SPECIAL FEATURES? :star: :star: / :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

A commentary track with director John Moore, producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey and production designer Patrick Lumb is included as an audio option. What is most interesting is the feature titled The Phoenix Diaries. This 42 minute piece is a collection of behind the scenes footage, actors prepping for media spots, and a lot of scenes of John Moore flipping out at the crew. The way it was assembled kind of feels like a student film, and the electronic music adds to it. There are captions on screen once and a while giving it an organized structure. I thought it was well done for an assemblage of behind the scenes footage. FYI, there is about 30 times more cursing in this feature than there is with the actual motion picture. But still, it’s interesting to watch and to see the personalities of the actors beyond the camera. This feature is widescreen enhanced and the audio is Dolby Surround.

Also included on this disc are four extended scenes and two deleted scenes. All scenes total to just less than fourteen minutes. These were clearly cut for time and they don’t develop the story at all. The extended scenes are presented in DD5.1 audio and are widescreen enhanced. The deleted scenes are DD2.0 and 2.35:1 widescreen although is not widescreen enhanced.


IN THE END…

Flight of the Phoenix won’t win any awards for best picture but I give it my highest regards for pure entertainment. The tension between characters is effective as time becomes more crucial for their survival. The presentation of the DVD is also top-notch making this a new reference DVD for me because of the top-notch quality of the video and audio. As mentioned before, if you love to be assaulted by your home theatre system and you want a fun movie to get for the evening, Flight of the Phoenix should be high on your list.

Michael Osadciw
05.02.20
 

ThomasC

Senior HTF Member
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Dec 15, 2001
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Thomas
WOW. That was a short wait from theater to DVD! Thanks for the review!
 

Matt Leigh

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 8, 2004
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I saw it in the theater and was pleasently surprised. Giovanni Ribisi plays an excellent role as the intellectually superior and unstable engineer.

Best thing I found about the film is that they play it very straight and serious making the threat of the desert and the situation quite real.
 

Sean Moon

Senior HTF Member
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Jan 25, 2001
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Lets see, a checklist:
Reference Picture: CHECK
Reference Sound:CHECK

Yup, sounds like a FOX action movie release to me:)
 

Travis W.

Second Unit
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Jun 11, 2004
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305
I honestly thought this film was going to do much better in the box office than it did. The Stewart version is better but this version isn't a bad effort.
 

Ron-P

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A blind buy for me. It met my one and only requirement...

Thanks for the review Michael!
 

Matt Butler

Screenwriter
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Matt Butler
Netflixed this and it showed up yesterday. Watching ti tonight. Missed it in theatres but wanted to see it bad.

Assualt on the theatre system and Miranda Otto?! :D

Must see!!
 

Lewis Besze

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 28, 1999
Messages
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I saw it last nite. I agree with Michael here, this is truely a reference disc, picture and sound,and the movie has good entertainment value too.Regarding the bass, the fuel barrel exploision tripped one my amps that drives one my subs,master volume was -5db below reference,This never happaned before on any soundtracks at or near reference level.I know this is just an anecdote,but here it is, for what it worth.
 

T r o y

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 7, 1999
Messages
649
Lewis,

Give us your thoughts on the audio assault and the video Q
after you're done watching.


Later!
 

Andy_MT

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 23, 2001
Messages
486
reference ? are you lot having a laugh ?

tell me, since when did very soft with an abundant amount of ringing become the definition for reference ?

the video on this disk is VERY weak. almost everything looks filtered to hell, there's almost no fine detail if any and the haloing is giving miramax some serious competition. i'm using an htpc and based on video on other better discs, this one is not very impressive at all.

oh, and i wish people would stop using the word, "reference". too many abuse it and label the most mediocre transfers with it. enough !!!
 

Lewis Besze

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 28, 1999
Messages
3,134
I did watch it entirelly prior to my first post,and as I said it was excellent especially the sound.Mix and SQ was all superb with awesome dynamics. The crash scene is demo worthy no doubt.
 

Shane Martin

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Sep 26, 1999
Messages
6,017
Andy,
You looking at the Region 1 disc? I have to question that when people question stuff like this from outside the US. So far those of us with the Region 1 disc here are not complaining.

I got to agree with Lewis here, The DTS Track is impressive.

The movie was decent but the original is better. I caught it on Action-E on cable yesterday.
 

GerardoHP

Supporting Actor
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Jan 10, 2001
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Los Angeles, California
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Gerardo Paron
I finally watched this last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. As I suspected, it's a vast improvement over the original with spectacular action sequences and much more dynamic story and characterizations. Whoever said that they don't make them like they used to? Sometimes they make them better!
 

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