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Flight - Blu-ray Review

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Flight - Movie Review

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4 stars

Sex, drugs, and Denzel Washington.

Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), after spending the last decade in dead-eyed motion-capture films, finally returns to a world full of soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and damaged heroics.  Flight is a glorious return to form for the maestro behind Cast Away and Contact and, thematically, feels as though a capstone on some of the more uncomfortable adult themes those films explored concerning faith and isolation.

Commercial airline pilot Captain Chip Whitaker (Washington) doesn’t have to pilot a plane to fly high in the friendly skies.  He’s pretty much been doing it his entire adult life as an alcoholic who always has a bump of cocaine handy to level him out.  After his nightly binge of booze and drugs and sex, Whitaker thinks nothing of piloting a commercial jet liner from Florida to Georgia.  It’s, as Sir Paul McCartney put it, just another day.

A mechanical error in the tail end of the craft has the final say in the matter.

A risky maneuver, involving flying the craft upside down, is heroically performed by the quick-thinking Whitaker but the downing of the jet is unavoidable.  After taking out a steeple with its wing, the plane crashes in an empty field.  Thanks to Whitaker’s performance, only a few fatalities are recorded.  He is immediately praised as a hero by the press and protected by his union - who quickly lawyer him up with an aggressive attorney (Don Cheadle) – but the threat of jail time is never too far away as more and more information is leaked about Whitaker’s thirst for the all-consuming liquid high.

Was he drunk when he piloted the plane?  Yes.  Is he a man worthy of living without judgment?  Did he put his passengers at risk by entering the cockpit stoned?  This is where the film reflects and we as insiders into Whitaker’s self-destructive life, his loves (Kelly Reilly in a seriously great performance as a recovering junkie he unexpectedly comes across) and his contacts – including a hysterical The Dude-like performance from John Goodman as his mainliner – spend most of our time.

Performances from leading men simply do not get much better than the one Washington delivers here.  Both tragic and disturbing, he plunges into the depths to pull out the essence of Whitaker.  He never surrenders the character’s soul as a disturbed good man and never reveals himself to the audience to be anything more than an alcoholic; this is a hero’s journey in reverse.  From the movement of his lips to the sudden flashes of anger and sorrow, Washington is at the very top of his game in mannerisms and, more so than the other performances he has been previously awarded for, deserves an Oscar for the beauty of making this performance breathe and feel wholly new.  Certainly, Flight benefits from this wonderfully nuanced performance.

Flight is a dark and, at times, a purposefully uncomfortable film to sit through.  Its themes weigh heavy on the audience and might make some viewers bust out with inappropriate responses if they aren’t used to the reality of an alcoholic.  The comic reprieve Goodman offers, as introduced by The Rolling Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” in his walk-on, is irony at its finest.  You’ll laugh for sure, but the irony won’t be lost.  Where you might find yourself withdrawing from the film is when those themes and their consequences begin to feel overly familiar.  Mostly, the engaging performances keep you from that certain déjà vu feeling all over again but – when a lover ultimately leaves (and gets the good old fashioned shaft from the script) and fates are decided – one cannot help but know this plane’s final stop.

However, the overall craftsmanship of the picture – including a riveting 20-minute crash sequence (which will probably have you swearing off plane trips for good) – is of a marvelous quality.  The feeling of the cinematic tension twisting into your gut, as the plane shimmies across the sky, is not unlike having a screwdriver churn its way very slowly into your stomach.  Ironically enough, it’s what happens after the crash that’s most important.  The meditative suspense that dominates the screen, as this character study about Whitaker really takes off, is unflinching and completely…(for lack of a better word)…intoxicating.

Welcome back, Mr. Zemeckis.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your Flight.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Flight - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action.
Runtime:
151 mins.
Director
: Robert Zemeckis
Writer
: John Gatins
Cast: Denzel Washington; John Goodman; Don Cheadle; Bruce Greenwood, Kelly Weilly
Genre: Drama
Tagline:
Flight
Memorable Movie Quote: "Nobody could've landed that plane like I did."
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
www.paramount.com/flight
Release Date: November 2, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 5, 2013

Synopsis: In this action-packed mystery thriller, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a seasoned airline pilot who miraculously crash-lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board. After the crash, Whip is hailed as a hero, but as more is learned, more questions than answers arise as to who or what was really at fault, and what really happened on that plane?

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Flight - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 5, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

Flight’s 1080p High Definition transfer from Paramount Pictures is almost as stunning as Nadine E. Velazquez scene-stealing nudity that opens the movie.  Shot digitally using the Red Epic Camera, Director Robert Zemeckis’s return to live-action film is aided by the excellent eye of Cinematographer Don Burgess who keeps the proceedings detailed and grounded. A natural feel in lighting inside and outside are dominant and the overall level of detail and clarity is exemplary. Fine details on face and clothes (even in medium shots) are wonderfully vibrant.  Flesh tones throughout are natural, detail observable even in darker, quieter scenes, and there are no issues – banding, digital tinkering – to sully the experience.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is entirely appropriate to the picture. Clearly the crash sequence is the most active scene for the audio but it’s the quieter moments and classic rock songs that really make the landing.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Now, this is a shame.  There is none.  What gives, Paramount?

Special Features:

Clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, the supplemental material on Flight is a bit of a disappointment.  The Origins featurette tracks exactly that and discusses how the film came to be with Writer John Gatins, Director Robert Zemeckis, Actors Bruce Greenwood and Denzel Washington, and Producer Steve Starkey.  The short Making Of Flight discusses the production shoot and modest budget of the film. Next up is Anatomy of a Plane Crash and that featurette is an examination of that key crash scene.  Finally, Q&A highlights, being the most interesting, bring the material to a close.  A DVD copy of the movie is provided as well as a code to own a cloud/digital version of the film is also available.

  • Origins of Flight (10 min)
  • The Making of Flight (12 min)
  • Anatomy of a Plane Crash (8 min)
  • Q&A Highlights (14 min)

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