Flight of the Phoenix is about a small plane that crashes in the middle of a desert, and the pilots and passengers who try to save themselves by building a new plane out of the wreckage of the old one. Because the film is a remake of the 1965 movie that starred Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Ernest Borgnine, it is very, very tempting to say that the makers of the new film have done to the earlier film what their characters do to the original plane, and turned a sturdy old vehicle into a much creakier contraption. However, I must confess I've never seen the original film, so instead of making that particular analogy, let's try a slightly different metaphor: Flight of the Phoenix is one of those movies in which the plot mechanics are a lot rustier than the machine everybody's working on.

First, the set-up. An exploratory drilling rig somewhere in Mongolia has failed to turn up any oil, so the company shuts it down without warning the crew and sends in a plane to pick them all up and take them back to civilization. The plane is piloted by Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid), an airman who has earned a reputation for being the bearer of bad tidings to oil rigs everywhere, and his cockiness doesn't exactly endear him to anyone either. No sooner has the plane taken off than a storm arrives, and rather than turn back or fly around it, Frank tries to fly over it—but the plane is too heavy, it gets caught in the turbulence, and then, before you know it, the plane is hurtling down towards the dunes below.

Miraculously, no one is too badly injured, except for the few expendable non-characters who are killed almost instantly by the experience. (One person goes flying out the back of the plane, which is par for the course in such ...

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Flight of the Phoenix
Our Rating
1½ Stars - Weak
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some language, action and violence)
Directed By
John Moore
Run Time
1 hour 53 minutes
Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Giovanni Ribisi, Miranda Otto
Theatre Release
December 17, 2004 by 20th Century Fox
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