Flight of the Phoenix (4/10)
by Tony Medley
God help me, another remake!
When will this insanity stop? Now weíve got one that is completely
derivative. The only saving grace to this one is listening to Dennis
Quaid deliver more corny lines. The jury has come in. Nobody comes close
to the number of bad lines this guy utters badly. To think that heís
stepping into the role of the legendary Jimmy Stewart, well, the mind
boggles. Letís cut to the chase.
Frank Townes (our boy Dennis)
is the pilot who crashes his plane and passengers in the middle of the
desert. Kelly (Miranda Otto), the only woman on board (more about that
later), asks Frank to do something after previously giving an emotional
speech to lift spirits. He replies, ďAre you kidding me? Iíd do anything
to avoid another hopes and dreams speech.Ē
Later Kelly asks Frank why he
didnít tell them something negative. Frank says, ďI didnít want to give
them something else to worry about.Ē They are stranded in the middle of
the hottest desert in the world in the hottest month, nobody knows where
they are, and he doesnít want to give them something else to worry
Dennis is so proud of this
thing that his name is actually above the title! This guy has the
worldís worst judgment.
Hereís another amazing line
that doesnít come from Dennis. One of the passengers is giving another
Thereís only one thing in life thatís important,
someone to love;
If not that, something to hope for;
If not that, something to do!
Now, forgive me for being
terminally logical, but if thereís only one thing in life thatís
important, there canít be an alternative, can there? So this guy has
only one thing in life thatís important, but heís got two alternatives.
If Iím writing a script, and I write the line that begins, ďThereís only
one thingÖĒ is it possible that I can immediately thereafter write a
line that begins, ďIf not that,Ö?Ē Do screenwriters remember what they
just wrote? Do they read what they write? Do they THINK? Where is
Aristotle when we need him? Ah, but thatís what we have Dennis Quaid
for. Heíll say ANYTHING (even though he didnít say this; hey, Iím
entitled to be illogical)!
The last movie I saw Dennis
in was The Day After Tomorrow, a logic buster if there ever was
one. But this one is in the same league. Consider:
Itís hot. The hottest desert
in the world and itís the hottest month. In Jimmy Stewartís movie, which
was made in 1965, the heat was palpable. Jimmyís face looked terrible,
his lips horribly chapped. Even near the end of their ordeal, Dennis
looks like he could walk into a bar and bed every girl in there; not a
mark on his face. Nobody sweats. They sit out in the sun. Instead of
covering up, the men work shirtless! Apparently Director John Moore has
never been to the desert. Have you ever seen a Bedouin, John? Ever seen
an Arab? Didnít you see Lawrence of Arabia (1962), for heavenís
sake? What do they wear, John?
Galibiyeh and Burqas, thatís what! They cover
every bit of skin they can. Why do you think they do that, John? Because
of the sun! Do you really think itís reasonable for you to have your
actors working in the hottest desert in the hottest month in the
brightest sun SHIRTLESS?
One of the passengers strikes
out on his own. Frank is pressured by Kelly to go after him. It looks
like they walk a long way. Not to worry. He catches up with the guy and
talks him into coming back, so they stroll back, none the worse for
wear. Oh, did I mention that it is the hottest month of the hottest
desert in the world? And they must have walked several miles. No
Kelly is the only woman among
many heterosexual males with death imminent. Never is there a sexual
problem. Yeah, sure.
The engineering is goofy.
Hereís what pilot and longtime TV Director Bill Wyse says about the
takeoff of the Phoenix:
During the takeoff, a bullet supposedly disconnected a rudder cable
attached to a rudder bar behind the pilot. The "designer" risks his life
to reattach it. The Fairchild C-119 transport used in the film is
powered by two 3,500-hp Wright R-3350-85 engines. With such power,
rudder control is critical during takeoff. Since the Phoenix only had a
tail skid and no steerable tailwheel, a working rudder is even more
critical for directional control. A single 3,500-hp engine at full power
produces tremendous torque forces pulling the aircraft to the left.
Under circumstances shown in the film, lost rudder control would surely
result in a violent left ground loop that would probably not be
survivable. It's sad when screenwriters won't make a 1 minute phone call
to an aviation expert before inventing these events.
After theyíve been crashed
awhile, Frank tells them that nobody knows where they are and they are
200 miles off course, so the chances of them being discovered are slim.
Elliott (Giovanni Robisi, the only good thing in the film) says heís an
engineer and he has investigated the wreckage and he thinks they can
build a plane out of it and get out of there. Frank says no way, so they
forget it. Is Frank the dumbest protagonist in the history of film? They
are stranded in the middle of the desert. Nobody knows where they are.
Nobody can find them. They canít walk out. Hereís a possibility. And
Frank rejects it?
And you think this job is easy.
December 17, 2004