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John Moore
Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese Gibson
Writing Credits:
Scott Frank, Edward Burns

Survivors of a plane crash in the Mongolian desert work together to build a new plane.

Box Office:
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$5,019,430 on 2604 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplemnents Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 12/5/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director John Moore, Producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey, And Production Designer Patrick Lumb
• Trivia Track
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Flight Of The Phoenix [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 13, 2020)

Around Christmas 2004, I browsed the movie listings to decide if I wanted to see something new. I noticed a flick called Flight of the Phoenix on some screens, but I had absolutely no idea what film this was. Iíd heard nothing about it - I couldnít recall seeing a single trailer or TV ad and didnít even notice any reviews!

Apparently Iím not the only one for whom Phoenix slipped under the radar. Despite a wide release, the movie earned a mere $20 million at the box office and sunk like a stone. With a relatively low budget of $45 million, that wasnít an atrocious number, but it must have been a disappointment.

The movie itself didnít deserve to vanish without a trace, but I canít claim that it merited a much broader audience. The action starts in Tangsang Basin, Mongolia, where the Amacore Corporation runs a test well in an attempt to locate a new source of oil.

Spearheaded by engineer Kelly Johnson (Miranda Otto), this search fails, so Amacore shuts down the operation. Pilots Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) and AJ (Tyrese) fly in to extricate Kelly and the crew. Mysterious nomad Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi) also comes along for the ride.

As they depart, they encounter a massive sandstorm. Despite warnings from Elliott, Frank decides to attempt to fly through it.

This fails, and the plane crash-lands in the middle of the Gobi Desert. With their radio down, they have no way to contact the outside world. They need to figure out how to survive while they wait for help.

However, after a while, it doesnít look like assistance will come in time, as their water will run out quickly. Elliott comes up with an idea: he feels they can build a new plane from the remnants of the old one.

Frank initially resists this, but he eventually accedes to the desires of the others. The rest of the film follows their attempts to construct a new vessel and survive.

A remake of a 1965 flick with James Stewart, Phoenix falls firmly into the category of ďdecent but definitely could have been betterĒ. Some of the stronger aspects of the flick relate to its sporadic action sequences.

For instance, the initial plane crash works really well. Aided by a phenomenal soundtrack, this scene starts the movie off with a bang and becomes quite harrowing. Later bits that also go the action route manage to create some excitement and drama as well.

I also like the basic story of Phoenix. No, the concept of folks stranded in the middle of nowhere isnít original, but it presents a lot of potential. The twist in which they try to build the new plane adds some spark and gives the movie a nice curve.

Where the flick falters connects to the execution of the story, as director John Moore has a flair for the action pieces but seems less able to make the rest of it work. Granted, I suspect a lot of the filmís problems stem from the script.

Thereís simply not much depth to it, as the characters never rise above the level of basic stereotypes. Theyíre consistently one-dimensional and lack much to make them memorable.

Actually, one minor surprise comes from Ribisiís Elliott. Iíve been down on the actor for quite some time, as he often infuses his characters with quirky mannerisms and no real truth or personality.

Some of that comes through here, but Ribisi manages to make Elliott more intriguing and less annoying than usual. He creates the most interesting character and manages not to irritate me, which is no mean feat given my feelings toward him.

Otherwise, the characters fail to become very involving, and the story stays on the surface as well. I think thereís a good psychological drama possible from this material, but Phoenix almost totally ignores that side of things. We see some intriguing threads related to survival versus the retention of oneís humanity, but these get shunted to the side in favor of musical montages and various superficial elements.

Flight of the Phoenix stands as a flick that will likely entertain fans of the action genre, but it wonít be able to expand past those boundaries. Some movies can overcome become appealing to a wider audience, but I donít see that for Phoenix. Itís got enough to keep the interest of action fans but never threatens to turn into something more engaging.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio A/ Bonus B-

Flight of the Phoenix appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though this release hit shelves early in the formatís existence, it held up better than most.

Not that this meant I didnít find some concerns, particularly related to sharpness. Much of the movie offered nice clarity and accuracy, but wider shots tended to lean softer than Iíd expect. Though these didnít look truly fuzzy, they lacked detail.

No issues with jagged edges or moirť effects materialized, and only light edge haloes appeared occasionally. Digital noise reduction created a few minor issues, but no signs of print flaws appeared.

I wouldnít expect a movie set in the desert to feature a varied palette, and Phoenix indeed stayed with restrained tones. Sandy and orange hues dominated, as only sporadic examples of other colors popped up in the flick. The hues appeared well-developed and concise for what they were.

In addition, blacks looked deep and firm, but low-light shots caused mild problems, some of which occurred due to surprisingly dense day-for-night scenes. These consistently appeared too dark and never worked realistically.

Other shadows also lacked the definition Iíd expect. Enough about the transfer succeeded to earn this one a ďB-Ē, but it had room for improvement.

For the filmís DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, the soundfield was broad and involving. This occurred all throughout the film, though the louder sequences came across the best.

Unsurprisingly, the early sandstorm/crash scene impressed. It spread the storm actively all around the spectrum, and the various aspects of the planeís problems also zoomed about us. Quieter moments worked well too, as the track brought out the nuances of the desert in a vivid manner.

The high quality of the soundfield spread to the music as well. Phoenix used a fair amount of non-score elements like the Johnny Cash song that opened the movie.

These displayed better than usual stereo separation and delineation, and they really impressed me. Across the board, the DTS-HD track displayed good localization of material and blended them all together impressively.

In addition, the quality of the audio was top-notch. Speech always came across as natural and distinctive. No issues with intelligibility or edginess manifested themselves.

The music was vibrant and dynamic. Even with the variety of sources, the songs sounded vivid, and the score also demonstrated great clarity and definition.

Effects were lively and true. No distortion marred them, and they sounded clean and smooth. Bass response knocked one out of the part with deep, concise tones that nicely accentuated the action.

I was a little reluctant to give this one an ďAĒ because it lacked the rock-em, sock-em ambition I usually require to give a soundtrack that high a mark. However, it sounded so good and often worked all the speakers so well that I thought it deserved that grade.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? The Blu-rayís lossless audio offered more punch and clarity than the DVDís lossy affair, and visuals felt more vivid and tighter. While the disc shows its age in terms of picture, it still improved upon the DVD.

Some of the DVDís extras repeat here, and we find an audio commentary from director John Moore, producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey, and production designer Patrick Lumb, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. At the start, the commentary seems a bit dry, but it picks up pace as it goes and turns into a strong chat.

Among the topics covered, we hear primarily about shooting in Namibia. The participants discuss all of the challenges that came with the location as well as the benefits.

In addition, the commentary includes notes about casting and working with the actors, stunts and visual effects, editing and pacing, music and other auditory issues, and various story and character notes.

The second half of the commentary tops the first, though the whole thing works well. Technical subjects dominate the early going, so only as the movie progresses do the subjects loosen up and present a broader examination of the film. Ultimately, this ends up as a very entertaining and informative commentary.

New to the Blu-ray, we find a Trivia Track. It mainly offers info about the production. Some decent material appears, but this becomes a less than engaging subtitle commentary for the most part.

Under trailers, we locate ads for Flight, Omen 666, The Transporter, X-Men: The Last Stand and From Hell.

Note that the Blu-ray drops deleted/extended scenes as well as a documentary. This disappoints but matches most early Fox Blu-rays, as they regularly shed most of their respective DVDsí extras.

Flight of the Phoenix offers a spotty but generally entertaining action flick. Well, it succeeds when it concentrates on the action, as its character moments fail to add up to much of anything. Nonetheless, thereís enough here to make it moderately enjoyable. The Blu-ray boasts excellent audio and a few bonus features but visuals seem lackluster. Like most early release Blu-rays, this one could use an update.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX

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