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Flight of the Phoenix

The Only Way Out Is Up 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Flight of the Phoenix

Flight of The Phoenix is a remake of the 1965 classic disaster flick starring Jimmy Stewart. The premise: a cargo plane is damaged after crash landing in the Sahara desert, leaving the crew stranded. One of them, an engineer, believes they can build an entirely new plane from the wreckage.

Dennis Quaid plays Frank Towns, a cocksure pilot who is stubborn in his belief that they should do nothing but stay put and await rescue from passing aircraft. The eccentric and mostly quiet engineer Elliot (Giovanni Ribbisi) conjectures the hopeful idea of piecing together a replacement plane. This suggestion is initially met with cynicism, and is fiercely resisted by Towns but he is eventually won over by what he calls a moving “hopes and dreams speech”.

Thus ensue the obligatory “desert survival” problems of water and food rationing, leadership rivalries etc, which sometimes the movie can leap from one of these panic moments to another too quickly to garner our sympathies (something goes horribly wrong but a second later they’ve speedily dealt with it).

The cinematography captures eye-opening panoramas of vast dunes and whilst it’s not quite as grand as, say, Lawrence of Arabia, it is a redeeming quality of Flight of The Phoenix. The music is somewhat perplexing, the original soundtrack, with its percussive tribal rhythms, is interesting but the licensed stuff is sometimes misplaced, for example the inclusion of OutKast’s Hey Y’all is puzzling.

Flight of The Phoenix is one of those highly watchable feel-good big-budget Hollywood films, with its fair share of special effects and uplifting crescendos. Perhaps not as good as the original, this is an updated version of a classic film, and if you’re not going to watch the original then at least consider seeing this one.

Amarpreet Basai

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Summer Term (35mm)