On Flight and Argo

A few weeks back I went with a buddy to see a movie. We were angling to see Flight for which the trailers made look somewhat like an adventure-drama. Turns out it was opening night and the movie was full save for those souls who would sit in the front row and make like baby cows with their noses in the air searching for mommy. Not caring for the neck ache we returned to the theater closer to the hotel and saw Argo instead.

What a great choice that ended up being. Argo is a fantastic tale told very well. The filmmakers did a wonderful job taking this based on real events tale and turning it into a riveting adventure story. Cutting in actual footage in key places gives it the sense of realism. Of course the film's relationship with history is only good when matched against a tale like Peter and the Wolf. The bits of history woven in, however, lend great credibility to the drama and make the film great. It is worth taking a busy afternoon in the holiday season and seeing this film.

Flight is a movie that has a huge advertising budget. It could have used some of that budget better on making the film. For a few minutes I considered leaving mid-way through. Not that it was that bad, mind you, but that it just wasn't worth the time even on a Friday night away from home with not much else to do. While the film's premise of a high-functioning alcoholic piloting a plane isn't so much a stretch much of the movie simply doesn't work. Aside from not knowing what genre it wants to find it's home in once it reaches Netflix it almost seems to make an effort to reach up and slap the viewer in the face with "this is so implausible we'll beat you in the face with it."

Imagine for a moment that all of the things that had gone before were able to happen. Inverted flight. Picking a kid up off the ceiling of an inverted plane and getting him back in his seat etc. Imagine all of that actually did happen. Then one is left with the crash footage the film tells us was shot on a cell phone. It just so happens that a person was standing in the middle of a field with a cell phone, steadycam and lighting rig to get a perfect shot. Not so much as a jiggle or getting the plane out of the frame at any point. And then the crash itself with its grade-school quality computer generated effects. Seriously I'm pretty sure kids at my daughter's school with a Go-Pro and a radio-controlled model could have come up with a more realistic crash scene.

The list of annoyances could go on and on. Flight is filled with seemingly gratuitous product placements like the opening scene making iHome show up in 10-foot tall letters in the theater. Though apparently not all of the seeming product placements are paid. Some are just horrendous. Like the use of an iPhone, which one must assume was also not a paid placement, with everything from the screen showing all the apps in their installed location and over a hundred voice mails, yet Denzel Washington's character doesn't even scroll through the list to see if any friends called and just picks two strangers from the list to hear bash him. These are the sorts of things that just scream out-of-touch.

Oh and for all that at the end the movie which couldn't decide if it was adventure, angry-drama, romance or what turns out to be a last minute tale of morality and conscience. Not Denzel's worst movie by a long shot and John Goodman's character is a redeeming breath of fresh air. This one can definitely wait for the video to come out.