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Flight of the Phoenix
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90 out of 112 people found the following review useful:

The politically correct version of the flight of the phoenix!

7/10
Author: Graham Watson from Gibraltar
26 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Almost 40 years after the original the 2005 version shows how much the world has changed. To start off with there is a woman passenger in this film unlike the original where the only female was an exotic Arabian dancer (although a mirage). In this version the frail girl passenger is a foul-mouthed oil driller who wears the obligatory tank top and spandex pants once the boiler suit has been discarded.

In addition to this we have two black men, one who is the co-pilot. In the original the Mexican dies in the ill-fated march through the desert however in 2005 the Mexican survives. (The writers are probably sensitive to the many Mexicans who die trying to cross the Arizona and Texas border in hot conditions). In fact he defies almost certain death when the wing of the new construction collapses on top of him but survives. In 1965 the cocky Scotsman survives but in the 2005 the Scotsman perishes in the shoot out with the nomads. Interestingly, we are still aloud to use nomads as the cruel bad guys, again in the original it was the Arabs who were the barbarians, that won't cut today, so it's probably why outer Mongolia was chosen.

However, the writers slipped up with their choice of the anti-hero. In the original the blond hared blue eyed bespectacled trouble maker was a German called Dorfman, who menacingly portrayed the stereotype of Nazi arrogance and superiority who audiences back in 1965 (20 years after the war) could easily hate; yet he turned out to be the hero in the end.

To bring it up to date and really be politically correct they should have used a Muslim. We all could have hated him but then hailed him as a hero in the end too. All in all a pointless remake and for die-hard fans of the original they may have a hard time swallowing this one. The original, which is a longer movie, is superior in portraying the hopelessness of their predicament as well as the underlying tensions between the survivors. Cowardice and bravery are on show in the 1965 version, but in this one ---, just stupidity!

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115 out of 181 people found the following review useful:

ho-hum remake

4/10
Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
6 January 2005

"Flight of the Phoenix" is at best a so-so remake of the fine Robert Aldrich adventure classic from1965. The plot in both films is fairly simple and straightforward. After a plane crash lands in the Gobi Desert, the survivors hit upon the notion of rebuilding the damaged vehicle in the hopes of flying it back to civilization. Dennis Quaid assumes the role, originally filled by Jimmy Stewart, of the pilot who, against all odds, endeavors to lead his passengers to safety.

Although the new version follows the original fairly closely in terms of both character delineation and plot development, the story doesn't seem quite as fresh today as it did when we first encountered it close to 40 years ago. Perhaps what's missing is the guiding hand of a master craftsman like Aldrich to really deliver the goods (John Moore, a far less distinguished director, is manning the controls here). This "Flight" feels awfully predictable and rote, as we plow our way through each of the various survival threats, rescue attempts and internecine personal conflicts that are standard in all such tales of survivors stranded in a hostile environment. Each of the characters steps out of the shadows to have his or her own Moment in the Sun (yes, in this version, there is actually a woman aboard), before receding dutifully into the background to allow the next person to do the same. About the only intriguing element in the story is the fact that the main character, the pilot of the plane, has to actually be talked into participating in the Quixotic rescue plan. Thus, he is a leader and a hero more by default than by design.

Although the crash itself is fairly impressive from a technical standpoint - despite a rather phony-looking, computer-generated sandstorm that brings the plane down - once we end up on the desert floor, the movie doesn't do a particularly effective job conveying the truly grueling nature of the predicament these individuals are facing. We never really get the sense that they are just a few water droplets away from dying of thirst or heatstroke. Moreover, the feat that they are able to accomplish seems barely credible - from a sheer mechanical engineering standpoint - given the lack of resources and expertise with which the group has to cope. The main weakness with a film like "Flight of the Phoenix" is that, when the plane goes down, we're stuck in the desert right along with the characters, and if they don't have anything particularly interesting to say to one another, we can feel just as stranded as they.

Thus, despite a few quality moments, this "Flight" never manages to get off the runway. Check out the original instead.

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66 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

What a waste of time!

1/10
Author: Dan-179 from United States
20 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you are planning to see this movie, don't bother. It's a poor remake of a very good old movie. As a pilot, and from a pilot's point of view, the crash scene was completely unbelievable. If you aren't a pilot, you may enjoy the crash scenes, but I can tell you that the plane would have been in tiny pieces before it ever hit the ground. Once it hit the first sand dune, it would have broken up into small chunks after the first ground strike.

The interaction between the actors was forced, and never really developed.

The most unbelievable part came when yet another! freak sand storm comes up and the Phoenix is sitting on the sand and starts to lift up as if ready to fly. A few moments later, you see the fuselage of the original plane rolled over by the wind. Yet, the Phoenix doesn't get blown away (even though it's got wings (the fuselage doesn't)) and it's trying to fly as the wind picks up.

Next, we see our heroes sitting on the sand and the Phoenix is almost completely buried but the sand blown around by the sand storm.

Quite dramatically, the decision is made to dig the plane out of the sand. Give thought to trying to dig a 2 bedroom house out of a 10 foot drift of sand after spending a week or two in the desert with little or no water, a few cans of peaches and you have an idea of the task facing our heroes. To get an idea, just go out in your yard and dig a hole 2 feet deep and 2 feet square. It will take you a LONG time to do it. Imagine doing it under the conditions described above! Yeah, right! The next scene shows the Phoenix dramatically out of the sand, clean and undamaged, and ready to fly! Once again, yeah, right.

Finally, our heroes get the plane started with a hoard of Mongolian Marauders chasing them into flight. Of course, there is the perfunctory scene when a cable to the rudder is shot away by automatic rifle fire and the engineer has to climb back on the fuselage to dramatically fix it while keeping from falling off or getting shot by the hoard of horsemen. Ho hum.

And, of course, we all fly off into the sunset.

Get a copy of the Jimmy Stewart version. A much better film.

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30 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Woeful - many factual and logical errors

1/10
Author: frisbie-3 from Australia
19 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here's just a few things that make no sense...

1. They fly out of a mine site in Mongolia (Gobi desert - frozen high altitude wastelands). But they crash in a hot sandy desert that looks pretty much like the Sahara where they are all running around in short sleeves. How did that happen? They flew from central Asia to Africa? The Gobi just got 40 degrees hotter with a whole lot of sand? 2. Aeronautical dude says the plane is overweight. If that's so, how did it get out of a high altitude airfield in the fist place? And it didn't just creep off the ground if ripped into the air at a ridiculous rate of climb.

3. Last night when the new plane is ready, it gets completely buried in a sand storm, except for the tail. Damn! What a sandstorm. A whole plane buried in one night. But even more amazing, they dig it out in one day using only one shovel. So that's say .... a couple of thousand tons of sand? And that's not even counting the runway, which presumably would have been buried too.

4. They decide to earth the plane in an electrical storm. Well that would make it a brilliant path to ground for an electric strike, ensuring that it gets completely destroyed. Passenger jets get struck by lighting quite often but they always survive because the lighting doesn't have a path to earth through the jet. Grounding of planes is to prevent static discharge during fuelling, not to dissipate a lighting strike.

5. The petrol cans explode when some sparks drift onto them. Don't they always on Hollywood? (dangerous part of the world). Petrol does not explode unless it is in the exact ratio of 14.7:1 with air. That's why cars need a carburettor. Otherwise, it just burns. Anyway setting fire to the spillage on the outside of a can won't make the contents inside it burn, let alone explode.

6. An exploration site gets shut down, but the workers don't know until some some dickhead pilot turns and up says he's there to take them home? Yeh, right, that would happen.

Tons of other unbelievable nonsense. Not worth spending any more time to write about it. I got ripped off with this DVD. Worst movie in years.

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31 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Not as Good as the Original

7/10
Author: adekwoz from Nashville, TN
16 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This remake of the 1960's Flight of the Phoenix is very unsatisfying. The character development is not as rich as the the James Stewart version. Dennis Quaid simply did not portray the depth of emotion that James Stewart did in the original. Giovani Ribli was good as the model plane designer but again he didn't get enough scenes and Harvey Kruger's portrayal had a lot more edge. Also missing was the Richard Attenborough character who keeps the Phoenix project going. His role was combined in the characters of several of the cast in the remake.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad film. I view it as a companion piece to the original. The special effects were awesome. Being trapped in the Gobi or Sahara (as in the original) was more meaningful to me when I saw the vast desolation of the desert in this remake. See the original Phoenix for its wonderful character study and see the remake for it's special effects and you have one fabulous picture. The original Phoenix stands on its own. My recommendation is see the original and then view the remake.

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23 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

No comparison to the original movie

3/10
Author: spiro-12 from United States
20 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the original movie Hardy Kruger commented to Jimmy Stewart something to the effect that "the only thing outstanding about you is your stupidity". Interestingly enough in the remake, stupidity seems be the only thing that "outstanding".

I have been on foreign oil drilling assignments and can guarantee you that you would never see a woman anywhere near a drill rig. As a matter of fact, the same thing applies in the US. Women just do not work as roughnecks. You do see women engineers and professionals, but never as workers.

The remake is just plain lame and an excellent example of "corporate" creativity trying to milk a good story just one more time.

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28 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

An enjoyable movie with some great style, but ultimately Hollywood.

6/10
Author: Richard Brunton from Edinburgh, Scotland
9 November 2005

I've not seen the original, before you ask, but I do know of it, and quite frankly I'm sick fed up of remakes. Yet there was something that attracted me to this story, the cast was one. A nice multi-national crew featuring Dennis Quaid, Hugh Laurie and Tony Curran, and the fact that it's a very simple story with nothing other than desert and cast to deal with. It kind of gave me the feeling of a slightly larger Ice Cold in Alex.

Unfortunately I was watching it on Sky and at my parents, that means no surround sound and the picture was cropped, damn Sky. However we didn't seem to lose much of the feel of the movie.

The cinematography value here is high. The movie looks great, it does seem as though they have high production values. The opening sequences with the plane flying over sand dunes are superb, and then when it hits the storm the effects are excellent and it's at that point the action really kicks in, before that we were introduced to the varied multi-national characters and their initial roles. The crash sequence is well filmed and edited and builds the tension superbly, all the shots here are believable, and have you on the edge of your seat. After this the action really dies down for most of the movie, only restarting at the end, when the believability also flies out the window in favour of Hollywood action.

Quaid is very good in this movie, an actor who I wish we really did see more of. The rest of the cast is an interesting ensemble from Curran to Kevork Malikyan, and it works well. I know that when I see a lone Scotsman in a movie it usually grates like hell with me, partly because they are usually played by Americans, but also because it just doesn't seem to fit, here it does because the entire cast is a mishmash of people. It really does feel like a group of remote oil workers.

The plane designer, played by Giovanni Ribisi is a terrible character, slimy, loathsome, and someone that you would expect to be a serial killer. Ribisi plays him really well, and through the movie the tension is built in a series of near clashes between characters, until the final clash which turns into a satisfying climax for the character and the movie.

Disappointingly the ending is very formulaic and makes all the Hollywood bells and buzzers flash and bleep, therefore making the Studios and their misinformed test screenings happy. Through the movie a band of vicious Nomads are mentioned, and a small clash occurs between some characters and a Nomad scouting party, but apart from this they are pretty much useless and are merely a very poor tension building device. This is surprising when the rest of the tension building moments are so much better formed.

That said, there are some idiotic moments where you just cannot believe the characters and the decisions they are making, never mind some of the outcomes. My father was almost shouting at the screen in despair.

All said it is an entertaining and effective movie, just suspend your disbelief concerning the reality of the situation after the crash, and grit your teeth through the Hollywood ending, and you've got yourself a good movie.

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23 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

The Flight of the Repeat

5/10
Author: thinker1691 from USA
12 October 2006

Comparing this new version to the original would be comparing a farm horse to a thoroughbred from the Kentucky Derby. This version has new actors filling the shoes of established characters, and yet none have the quality to hold the story on course, causing it to crash like their airplane. The original had James Stewart and Richard Attenborough, both with performances worthy of academy awards and established the foundations of a true classic. In addition, the rest of the cast stood of themselves and even Ronald Fraser gave a most stirring performance as Sgt. Watson. Superior veteran actors like Peter Finch, Hardy Krüger, Ernest Borgnine, Ian Bannen, Christian Marquand, Dan Duryea and George Kennedy, all gave the original solid star power and allowed the Phonix to rise from the screen into the memory of it's viewers. This new version has Dennis Quaid as Frank Townes, sympathetic enough, but far less convincing of his character. All in all, the new version falls, like most remakes, well short of the original. Sorry, but this film should have been left in the desert with the remains of the fallen airplane. **

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38 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

A classic example of how NOT to do a remake.

4/10
Author: innocuous from Raleigh, NC, USA
9 January 2005

I have the greatest respect for producers and directors. Regardless of the quality of their work, they must struggle to bring their personal vision to film, and this requires intelligence, technical proficiency, artistic sense, and the skill of a great storyteller. So why do so many directors do remakes of classic movies that deliberately do away with the qualities that made the earlier version(s) as great as they are? Why not fiddle with the less important aspects of the movie? In the original "Flight of the Phoenix", there are several aspects of the film that are essential to the movie; the complete absence of women, the contrast of the claustrophobic setting of the crash site against the vastness of the desert, the lack of backstory for the characters, the revealing of the hidden hopes and fears of the characters through pure dialogue, and the total isolation of the men from outside influences (with the exception of the encounter with the Bedouins.) The 2004 version of the movie basically does away with all of these elements, and the result is not positive.

The original movie was basically a stage play, with limited special effects and a setting that could easily be reproduced on a stage. I don't believe that John Moore improves the movie in any way other than the introduction of some brief, but impressive, special effects.

I also have to point out that some of the reviewers have obviously never seen the original 1965 version, or, if they did, they paid little attention to it. One reviewer, for example, observes that the pilot, Frank Towns, has to be talked into leading the effort to rescue themselves, suggesting that this was somehow a new element in the story. Fans of the 1965 version will recall that this was a major plot element, wherein Towns did not wish to be responsible and did not believe that the effort to rebuild the plane would be successful.

As many others have said, see the original first. Then, if you really want the 21st century special effects, see the 2004 version.

Additional Comment: I just watched this again because a friend had not seen it. These people were the dumbest fools that ever got stranded anywhere. Not to mention that, aside from a minor touch of sunburn,they stay in miraculaously good shape without hats, sunscreen, or any other significant protection.

** out of *****

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13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

From the ashes

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
9 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This remake of the more successful 1965 film of the same title was shown on cable recently. We were curious as to how the great screen play by Lukas Heller had been adapted by Scott Frank. The film, directed by John Moore, has taken the action from the Sahara to the Gobi desert. The result is a thriller that has some good moments, but in the end, doesn't improve in the better made earlier film.

The scene for this new version takes us to a remote spot in Mongolia where a woman engineer, Kelly, and her crew, are evacuated because the company she works for decides there is no oil to be found in that remote spot. Next, we watch as an aircraft piloted by Frank Towns, arrives to take everybody to Shanghai, China. A mysterious man, Elliott, who doesn't have anything to do with the oil company, comes along for the flight to China.

On the way, the plane suffers an accident caused by the terrible sand storm affecting the region. They land on the desert with only minor casualties. The aircraft seems to be out of commission, but Elliott, who tells the stranded passengers that the plane could be rebuilt, gets to act as the leader of the whole operation. In fact, he is an engineer who knows how to do it. Since they have the proper tools they begin to transform the wrecked cargo plane into something that resembles a toy model, which Elliott promises will fly. Little prepares us for what really turns out to be Elliott's real job.

The film has some moments, but the direction doesn't take it anywhere. The cast does what it can with the material they have been given. Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, are seen as Capt. Towns and Elliott. Miranda Otto, a good actress, plays Kelly, who didn't exist in the early version.

Seen as a curiosity, it will entertain, but for a better take on the same subject, a look at the former version will be more satisfying.

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