For a lower budget film this was a great little number.
It finally answers the burning question... "Just how much can possibly go wrong while taking a ride on a private plane with a few friends?"
The answer? EVERYTHING!!!
For an 80 minute escapade that takes place almost completely on a private airplane and only has 6 main characters... It shockingly moves at a pretty brisk pace and doesn't really leave you bored at any point.
None of the cast is well known, but they come together well enough to allow for a bigger idea to take hold as the film's premise... "What if there was some kind of event below shortly after takeoff? Something horrible."
The film creator's used a lot of classic odes to formula. Ancient God references, Christmas references, apocalypse references, biblical imagery (awesome shot with burning bison), even found a way to get the number 42 in there... lol. I enjoyed those subtle nods that found their way into the dialog or simply to the screen at some point.
Regarding character interactions, you'll find a few formula plots there as well, but I felt like there were story archs that were either unnecessary or should have been expanded on more. The 80 minute run time contributed to those missed opportunities... But ultimately, they did more right here than wrong. Even if some of the scenes like the "bullet removal / brother tiffs" felt a little unnecessary considering everyone's predicament, it does hit all the bases plot wise... Just not as well as it could have.
The soundtrack was a very traditional one that was technically on par, but felt somewhat predictable at times and never went out of its way to captivate me beyond established formula. The instrumentation was life like and believable... It took very few risks though. There were a lot of missed opportunities for gritty synths, swelling risers, and super chunky zimmer'esq hybridisation... But the score ultimately plays it safe, and much like the camera shots, the plot formulas, and the character interaction formulas... It is extremely polished, but lacks the kind of originality that would really benefit an experience like this.
The audio mix felt as if it could have been mastered quite a bit hotter unfortunately. Had a lot of incredible elements inside that audio stage, it was balanced, it just wasn't big. 5.1 effects could have been more present throughout as well. Sound design and foley seemed available, just not mixed as well as it could have been, for an action film? I expect my studio speakers to be pumped and raging. Perhaps it was the copy I was permitted to experience. If not?
I think the team would have benefitted from applying more audio dynamics to just about everything mix wise. I feel like the mix engineer, much like the composer, played it safe and went with a dynamic mix that wasn't mastered as well as it could have been. As such... the amount of horse power all the audio teams likely put into the film will likely never be showcased as well as it could have been.
It has all of the audio elements. Don't get me wrong... They are there. I can hear them... Just not like I'd have hoped to. They just aren't balanced and mastered like they could be. The 5.1 effects could have really done a lot more too. It is after all... an apocalyptic action film. But again... These are just preferences regarding the style of story we're talking about here.
The visual special effects were awesome for this kind of budget. A lot of great moments are sprinkled throughout and they do extremely well in visual presentation. I could tell I was looking at effects some of the time, but not all of it. I was extremely impressed with the burning bison shots. Awesome imagery.
They keep the plot moving and give the viewer's imagination a lot to work with. They pound you with a lot of awesome stuff in an incredibly short amount of time as well. Which was pretty shocking and a testament to how far digital tech has come.
Ultimately... even though the film misses a few opportunities for greatness, it does extremely well in holding my attention for its duration. It is polished, it is visually stunning, and the ideas that it forces you to toy with are fun.
Its pacing at times feels rushed, and there are certainly elements that felt like over kill, but ultimately... the film creators did more right than wrong here.
Its fun. It's not the Notebook... It's not Armageddon starring Bruce Willis either... It's just a pretty cool low budget action flick that was a lot of fun.
They beat the formula stick... Sure... But I see some pretty stellar film makers and industry professionals at work here. They've done extremely well regardless of my reservations for their audio department. (Chuckles.) I only wonder if the crew was rushed, if time tables were a problem, what could have been done if they "just had a tiny bit more in their budget." That's always how it goes too isn't it?
"Just half a million more!!!"
Regardless of any obstacles this film may have seen in production or budget, I think they did a stellar job whipping its final cut into shape, and think most people will enjoy this film regardless of script shortcomings or pacing.
I look forward to seeing this team do more awesome stuff in the future... Although in fairness, I would love to talk to their producer about potentially scoring & mixing their next film. I think their work deserves a slightly more aggressive approach to their octane "audio wise." They've got some killer scenes and ideas. Would be a shame not to see those ideas fully realised to their fullest potential.
Audio is half the experience... Best to treat it that way. Show it the love it deserves. Master that final cut up another 7 to 10 db. Balance that dialog with some compression and fatten it up a little. Get that sound design to pop with its many layers... Make me taste the hot metal ripping off the side of that plane and then bring up that gut wrenching musical cue as it happens. Ro'Sham'Bow me baby!!!
(Pauses.) I digress. Sorry... Music is my thing.
Yeah... anyhow, two thumbs up. Great work. Would love to meet its creators and pick their brain. Maybe help them whip their audio department relentlessly for a film or two. (Smiles.) That'd be fun.
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