Flight Of The Phoenix John Moore

The 1965 Robert Aldrich favourite gets a retread in this surprisingly decent action romp. A plane piloted by one Frank Towns (Dennis Quaid) crashes in the Gobi Desert, leaving him and his passengers in a tight spot — their broken radio makes rescue unlikely and their dwindling supplies make death seem inevitable. Fortunately they have a bleached-blond weirdo named Elliott (Giovanni Ribisi) who thinks they can build a smaller plane out of the wreckage. As with the original, the main event is the sniping and infighting on the subject of whether or not to listen to him, with some deaths resulting before they get down to brass tacks, though the taut Aldrich version has the edge over the remake's more starry-eyed moments. It's sad to say but the new film is hobbled by some Spielberg guff about believing in yourself and doing the impossible; some goofy ethnic stereotyping also rankles, as it tries to be nice to the non-whites and non-males without actually giving them decent parts. Still, the characters aren't that much more caricatured than they were in the original, and director John Moore is good at finding movement within a scene to distract you from the gush, making it just right as an agreeable time-waster. Extras include a commentary by director John Moore, production designer Patrick Lamb and producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey; it's more interested in logistics than artistic considerations, but is entertaining. A frank and elegant "making of" featurette follows, eschewing politeness and revealing the pressures and petty nuisances of making an expensive Hollywood movie. Rounding out the package are three extended scenes and two evocative but superfluous deleted scenes with entertaining but uninformative commentary by Moore and Lamb. (Fox)