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Flight (Blu-ray Review)

Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington stars in this “riveting and powerful nail-biting thriller” from Robert Zemeckis, the Academy Award®winning director of Forrest Gump and Cast Away.  Airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Washington) miraculously lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe.  But even as he’s being hailed for his heroic efforts, questions arise as to who or what was really at fault.  Action-packed, engrossing and powerful, Washington’s performance is being hailed as “a triumph” and one that “will be talked about for years.”

Film  

Denzel Washington is Whip Whitaker. The baddest pilot in the sky, with one (okay, several) problems. He’s a raging alcoholic and drug addict. On one routine and uneventful day Whip is called in to the pilot’s chair on short notice to deliver passengers from Florida over to Atlanta. It’s a seemingly routine 45-minute romp through the skies, so what could possibly go wrong? If you’ve seen the amazing trailer for Flight then you already know what goes wrong.

Whip is on top of his game on this particular morning and does what so many pilots past, present, and future will rarely accomplish: landing a passenger safely on the ground after it’s been flying upside down for a long stretch of time. Yeah, just like the trailer shows you – a malfunction causes the plane to nearly crash and Whip Whitaker saves the day. What they also fail to mention is that Whip was drunk and high while flying. He was flying high? Okay, bad joke. Continuing….

I’m being a tad more descriptive, because it’s pretty much all shown to you in the trailer anyway. The harrowing ordeal above the plane is just a small part of the equation. The rest of the film is focused on Whip’s personal life and his defense. He will go before the FAA and his lawyers through the unions will try to absolve him of any wrongdoing. His ex-wife and son have already moved on without him, because they know of his addictions and want nothing to do with him. Cue the meth-heroin-addict Nicole (Kelly Reilly) with the heart of goal. Here’s a strong female who has integrity from top to bottom and will not do whatever it takes to get her next fix. You know I’m being sarcastic, right? We’ll get to the big wrap up shortly.

Flight has an interesting cast of supporting characters like John Goodman, who plays Whip’s drug dealer, Don Cheadle, who is Whip’s lawyer, and Bruce Greenwood, who is his old pilot friend and now heads the pilot’s union. Everyone is great in their parts, but it’s such a shame that with this much talent in front and behind the camera, Flight is a pretty bland and boring film right after it hits the 30-minute mark. I remember reading some of the comments about the film that said it would have been a great short film, because it literally goes downhill after the plane crash scene.

What ultimately kills the film for me is the ending. It’s such an incongruent ending that there’s no way that I was to all of sudden forget what the main character was about the previous 2hrs+ (the film is 2hrs 20m) of the film for this 5-minute moment of reflection, ethics, and closure. It made no sense that priority and integrity were all of sudden put on one particular character, which was never built up to, as an anchor point for Whip’s actions. You know, because his son, wife, Nicole, all meant nothing.  I’d rather not spoil the ending, but it’s a major buzz kill. Granted, the journey to the ending was also dull, that an ending that made some sense could have canceled the blandness out a bit.

It’s been quite a few years since Zemeckis made a live-action film, but Flight is clearly just a warm-up to bigger and better things. Denzel Washington seems to be in a perpetual daze, but that’s probably due to him having to play an alcoholic and drug addict. My ultimate issue with the film is that the ways some of the plot points are handled come off as way too convenient and even a little formulaic.

Video  

Flight is presented in 1080p, 2.40:1 widescreen. Shot in the RED system – details are amazing, flesh tones natural (especially those junkie flesh tones), and the digital file really gives the overall look a nice “film” quality to it. You won’t hear me complaining about Flight’s palette. The weather is also the star of the show in that there are scenes that are plagued by torrential rain and various other elements and then there are scenes of abundant sunshine and the clarity in those scenes is stellar. The Blu-ray looks fantastic.

Audio 

Flight is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Again, like the video, this audio presentation goes for the throat. Granted, the plane crash scene is the most dynamic sounding of them all, it may actually make you air sick. It’s sickly-real sounding. Once the film settles down, other than certain music cues, the sound stage remains very warm sounding. Dialogue is clean and crisp. Surrounds handle the ambient sounds in addition to the enveloping music. The LFE is true to the source in that it only ever picks up true low frequency bass. The audio quality on this Blu-ray is reference.

Extras  

Flight has less than one hour of special features and it’s basically one of those featurettes that started out as one whole program, but was chopped up into segments. We get to hear from the cast, crew, visual effects personnel, etc. It’s nothing special, although the conversation with screenwriter John Gatins is the highlight of the piece due to him describing what his inspiration for the film was. He says that one day while he was waiting to board a plane a very unremarkable looking man sat right next to him and began to ramble on about his problems and his everyday life. When the man got up to leave he was shocked to see that the man was the pilot of the plane he was about to board. That’s pretty trippy, huh.

Origins of Flight

The Making ofFlight

Anatomy of a Plane Crash

Q&A Highlights

DVD and Digital Copy

Summary 

I was severely disappointed by Flight. I think it’s an overrated film, with lots of problems. The Blu-ray is stellar, though. The video/audio specifications are great but the lack of real special features drag it back way down. If you need to see the film just to see what folks are talking about then I’d recommend a rental.

 

 

Order Flight on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Flight (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    Definitely not one of Denzel’s better works, but I’d go a tad higher on the score myself. The crash scene was incredibly intense, but the rest of the film was anything but. Good acting. So-so story.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Agreed!