Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Flight of the Phoenix


I had slim hopes for this, which sometimes helps. If it turns out to have anything going for it, I’m pleasantly surprised. Another thing it had going for it is I automatically cut some slack to movies about airplanes. I can’t help it, I love airplanes. The one here is a Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar,” which I have a particular affection for because one flew into Mid-County Airport about 3 miles from my childhood home in … oh, 1959 or thereabouts, and was open to the public. I thought it was really neat, and about the biggest thing going until I got on a C-130 a few years ago, where you could play a decent game of tennis.

And Phoenix turned out to be much better than I expected. It had some clichés, sure, but so did the first version. The crash sequence was a bit more than it needed to be, as things so often are in movies these days, but still harrowing, and probably tough on the actors, as they were strapped into a room that could be rotated 360 degrees very quickly and shaken up and down roughly.

In my review of Sahara I noted that one desert is pretty much like another for cinematic purposes. This claims to be in the Gobi in Mongolia, but was actually made in Namibia. I guess sand is sand.

Fascinating trivia: A stunt pilot was killed flying the original Phoenix, so these people didn’t attempt to fly their version. Play it safe, use a model and CGI. So what happens? They build a big model of the Flying Boxcar to film parts of the crash, and it flies much better than anyone intended it to, overshooting the place it was supposed to stop, right into the cameraman, breaking his leg. Jinx? You decide.