Saturday Night Premiere: The Flight of the Phoenix

Saturday, November 26, 2005

This week's Saturday Night Premiere is The Flight of the Phoenix, which premiered tonight on HBO. The movie follows a pilot that is taking a plane full of oil workers back for a company that has given up hope on a women's quest for oil in the desert. On the way to Beijing, they encounter a sandstorm, and the plane crashes. The plane is a total loss, and the group has very little food and water. At first the captain of the plane decides they should wait it out for help to arrive.

One man, Elliot played by Giovanni Ribisi, proposes that they build a new plane using the old one, and he tells them that he knows just how to do it too. Well, at first Townsend, the captain played by Dennis Quaid, tells him no, but once he gets too many speeches about giving up and not even trying, he does change his mind. The group sets out to work. First, they work at night in order to conserve water and energy, but they need to move the work to days once things get a little shaky. Turns out they aren't alone in the desert. There are nomads, and they have no problems with shooting people.

The group does try to communicate with this group, but only costs them another man when they shoot him. Even with all of the problems the group does complete a plane. They are almost out of water, and they lost most of their fuel in an explosion, but they do have enough to just make it. That is if the plane even gets off the ground. They have no seats and no covering. All they have to hang onto are windows taken from the plane and used somehow to make something for them to hold onto.

However, a problem does arise after the plane is done. As it turns out Elliot hasn't been totally truthful. Yes, he works for a company that builds planes, but not planes that carry people in them. Turns out he works for a company as a designer of model airplanes. There is no guarantee that his design for the plane, which as been dubbed The Phoenix, will make it off the ground at all. This causes some tense moments, and one of the men even threatens to shoot Elliot. Elliot has been on a bit of high and mighty power trip since work on the plane began, so they definitely aren't happy with him.

To make matters even worse, a sandstorm comes in and topples their newly created plane. It looks like all is lost, but the captain takes charge once again, and the group that is left works together to fig out the plane and get it ready for take-off. After another tense few moments of trying to get the plane started, the plane is able to run, but they have one last hurdle. The group of nomads makes another appearance, chasing the plane until it runs off a cliff and takes off. The group makes it home.

This movie is a remake of a 1965 movie starring James Stewart. I never saw the original version, so I really can't speak to whether or not this movie was as good as the original. Remakes usually aren't in my opinion, but I can say that I liked this movie. It had the right mix of suspense, action and humor to make it enjoyable for me. The cast has a few familiar faces as well. The Flight of the Phoenix is definitely worth a pick up on DVD or a viewing on cable if you happen to catch it.

My rating: 3 out of 4


Wow. Ribisi's career has really taken a downturn.

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