Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I’m wondering how similar this one is to the Dreamworks film RED EYE, also due out this year. This is the first real report we’ve had on this film, and keep in mind, this is a very early peek at a film that’s still in progress. It’s been a while since Foster’s starred in anything, so I’m curious to see what she’s up to:
Hey guys. Long-time reader, first-time contributor, all that jazz. Just got back from a screening in Burbank for Flightplan, starring Jodie Foster, held at the Frank Wells Theatre at Walt Disney Studios. I’ve been to screenings before, but this was the smallest, most “intimate” theatre I’ve been in for one. We were told that it was the first screening of the movie, and given the state of it, I believe them. It’s not like it felt thrown-together or anything, but it’s certainly a work print.
I’m not even sure how many people knew this movie was being made, as for many of the audience members, this seemed to be their first time hearing about it. I personally heard about it, gosh, probably a good year ago or more, so I’d been looking forward to it, even though I hadn’t heard anything about its status in a while.
For those who need a brief synopsis, Flightplan is a suspense thriller starring Jodie Foster as Kyle, a woman who boards a plane in Germany bound for America, with her six year old daughter in tow. Only a few hours into the flight, Foster awakes to find that her daughter has disappeared, and we follow her as she becomes increasingly more desperate and frantic trying to find her little girl. Peter Sarsgaard and Sean Bean costar as an air marshal and the plane’s captain, respectively. The plane is probably just as much of an important character to the movie, and it was kinda cool/unique on that it was that new Airbus plane.
To review this movie properly would be to reveal many spoilers in it's various twists and turns, regarding both events and characters. And I’m not gonna do that, because half the fun of this movie is trying to figure out what’s really going on, and the movie gives you several red herrings to play around with in your head. Luckily, the payoff is pretty decent and interesting, though our particular audience was left wanting a bit more from the ending, and I don’t disagree completely. For what we get right now, though, it’s good. It just needs a little more help to be great, and from the questioning session afterwards, it seems that the studio’s equally concerned about that, as they steered the conversation back to the movie’s resolution and our thoughts/suggestions about it several times.
I’ll elaborate a little here on the work print state of what we saw, ‘cause as a moviegoer interested in all aspects of the creation process, I found it interesting. Moreover, the screenings I’ve attended previously have had prints that look indistinguishable from the final film, with completed effects, sound, coloring, etc. So here, it was nice to see things a bit rough. Specifically, very little, if any, color timing had been done to the images we saw, with lighting and color saturation being all over the place. There were green screens of various sizes throughout the film, including many out the windows of the airplane, as well as the tv screens at each seat. It varied from shot to shot, as some shots featured fully animated screens for some rows, and still green screen for others. Of more interest was the fact that rough animatic shots popped up a few times throughout the movie, which was interesting, including a shot of people walking through the aisles of the cabin that they apparently intend to insert, as well as animatics of the exterior of the plane flying through the air, sitting at the loading gate, etc. One big visual effect near the end also used an animatic for the plane, but again I won’t say much ‘cause it’d be considered spoiler material. Some members of the audience, unfamiliar with animatics, found them quite hilarious, and even remarked out loud that “you guys should work on that shot some more.” I’m pretty sure they were dead-serious. They don’t get out much. Oh well. Funny stuff.
Anywho, the movie’s pretty damned good, overall, leaving me with similar feelings to Panic Room, so let that be a judge for you. Jodie Foster has certainly played this type of character before, but ya know what? She’s damned good at it in my opinion, and is able to hold the believabilty of the character for the entire film. Importantly, her progression from mild concern to full-on panic is believable, and the rest of the cast is solid as well. Once everything’s polished up, it should be a pretty solid movie that I’d easily recommend to people who liked Panic Room and movies of a similar vein. On a final note, the music was actually in place and sounding pretty good for the whole thing, but I’m not completely sure it was original. Many cues sounded VERY Unbreakable-ish, though they might just be similar scores. Either way, good stuff. I know I’ve rambled on a bit, so sorry about that. Hope this is an interesting read.
One more note: the theatre we went in for the screening contains the original multi-plane camera used by Disney for such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi, giving those movies previously impossible depth of field. As an animation fan, that was a cool little bonus when walking to the screening room, as I didn’t know about it.
Thanks, “Zombie Leader.” I’m not the biggest fan of PANIC ROOM, but I like Foster, and I’ll always give her the benefit of the doubt. This next guy didn’t think much of the film at all. Check this out:
This evening I attended what was touted as the first test screening of Jodie Foster’s new film, Flightplan. With non-stop, minor spoilers throughout and turbulent spoilers (I’ll warn you) toward the end, this advance review is now boarding…buckle up:
Set aboard a jetliner en route from Berlin to New York, Flightplan follows a bereaved Jodie Foster as an aviation engineer traveling with her daughter and the body of her late husband (in a high-tech coffin in the plane’s cargo hold) on a somber flight back to the States on a fictional airline aboard a fictional plane known as the A-474. About three hours into the flight Foster nods off and when she awakes, her daughter is missing and nobody onboard has any memory of ever seeing the child in the first place. Was the child ever there to begin with or is something sinister happening at 30,000 feet? The inflight cast of suspects include the captain, Sean Bean, a few flight attendants, several shifty-looking Arabic passengers and an air-marshal played by Peter Sarsgaard. The story unfolds as Foster tries to make sense of who’s who and what’s what as the plane crosses the Atlantic.
Though the film wasn’t fully timed, had a temp score and was missing key effects sequences throughout, no amount of polishing will change the fact that the movie is plagued by several enormous problems, not the least of which is that the revealed mystery is patently ridiculous and that there isn’t a shred of logic to the entire story. But let’s start small:
One of the major difficulties with this film lies in the fact that it’s really shy on character development. We meet Foster in Berlin before the flight and a choppy series of scenes introduce us to her late husband and her daughter but we learn nothing of substance about any of them. It’s mentioned that Foster works on plane engines but other than that, the writers aren’t too concerned with selling the idea that this woman is an engineer. The husband is dead when the film begins, the daughter is given all of three lines of dialogue before her vanishing act and the film never really invests us in a connection between any of them.
Sean Bean does his best as “Captain Rich” but, much like his turn in National Treasure, you can’t shake the feeling that even he can’t believe he’s taken this part. With almost nothing to do and very little in the way of a character arc, we long for him to get back to Middle-Earth where he seems much more at home or at the very least in a more convincing costume. Erika Christensen looks to have inherited Julia Stiles’ role from The Bourne Supremacy as the known young blonde actress who aaalmost has a real part to play. The other flight attendants are serviceable at best and the manipulation of the Arabic passengers seems cheap and in questionable taste. Peter Sarsgaard is also problematic since his droopy-eyed demeanor makes him an extremely unlikely casting choice for a convincing law-enforcement officer.
Although maybe that’s the point.
You see, everyone on this plane seems to have been directed to raise an eyebrow in every scene, act a little strange and play the macguffin in this at altitude episode of Murder She Wrote. The characters interactions are so fishy and their dialogue so left of logical that we begin to lose our grip on what might otherwise be a really smart idea for a thriller.
Our grip is further loosened by the plane itself which is by far the most conspicuous character in the film. Looking suspiciously like Airbus’ new dreadnaught of the skies, the soon to be airborne A-380, the plane in this movie is, in a word, enormous. Two full decks of passenger seating with large spiral staircases, massive galleys, a cockpit with bunks for the crew and a full bar, this is no ordinary aircraft. And while the interior is striking and beautiful and the film gets high marks for production design, nobody on board seems to notice. As a matter of fact the passengers act like they’re on a cramped Southwest Airlines flight to Phoenix. The film never really clues us in on whether or not this plane is commonplace in the world of these characters or whether these people just don’t seem to notice that they’re flying onboard the Starship Enterprise but the aircraft is never really given it’s due and we keep waiting for someone, anyone, to say: “holy shit this plane is frigging huge, isn’t it?”
For a time though it seems that Foster’s magnetic presence might have wings enough to get this spruce-goose and these underdone characters off the ground. The idea, an expounding of the Richard Matheson Nightmare at 20,000 Feet scenario of one passenger seeing something that the others do not is unnerving and clever and if it weren’t for the lame-brain payoff, it might even be a lot of fun. But it all comes apart and in the end this lumbering beast just sort of craps out without much of a third act or any real resolution. Major spoilers to follow and a personal invitation to the writers. The captain has just turned on the no-logic sign so consider yourself warned that you should return to your seats:
After an exhaustive search of the plane and the revelation that nobody onboard remembers the daughter, Foster has a breakdown and is informed by the flight crew that a fax from Berlin confirms that her daughter died along with her husband and therefore she must be coming apart at the seams from post-traumatic stress and the enormity of her loss. The problem is, this happens an hour into the movie so we know it’s just misdirection.
Without ruining the entire sad affair, I’ll tell you that it’s an elaborate (and retarded) hijacking plot. If the writers, Peter Dowling and Billy Ray are reading this, or if their assistants could be kind enough to pass this along to them, I’d love to take you both to lunch and have you clear a few thousand things up for me and the rest of the flummoxed audience at this screening. Drop Knowles a line, he knows how to reach me. Ok. Boys. Let me make sure I have this straight: The hijacker’s plan is to somehow (unexplained) plant plastique explosives in the coffin of Jodie Foster’s dead husband and then wait for Foster and her daughter to fall asleep onboard a transatlantic flight and to then physically pick up and kidnap the child in plain view of 425 passengers, shuffle her into a service elevator without waking her or her mother, steal her bags from the overhead bin and hope that nobody else notices and that none of the flight crew or area passengers remember seeing the girl for the first three hours of the flight. Then, the hijacker will hope that Foster initiates a search of the plane, somehow gains access to the cargo area and enters an electronic code into the coffin which grants access to the aforementioned explosives. Then the hijacker will go to the captain and pretend that Foster is hijacking the plane, hope beyond hope that nobody bothers to ask Foster if she’s hijacking the plane and then get the captain to wire 50 million dollars into a private bank account before deplaning everyone in Newfoundland and then blow the plane up with Foster onboard. Is that right? My next question is this: How high were you when you wrote this? Seriously.
Each and every reveal (and I’m only giving you a smattering of the horse-shit these writers try to get away with) is less and less logical and by the end we’re reeling so much from the insult of these repeated blows to the head that we almost don’t notice the final schmaltzy kick to the nuts of the Arabic passenger handing Jodie Foster her purse in the spirit of healing and forgiveness. It’s all too much to bear and I can’t help but feel as though watching this flight is more traumatic than being onboard…and that’s really saying something considering the plane ends up in pieces on a frozen tarmac in Newfoundland.
Early in the film, one of the passengers leans over to a flight attendant and asks what the inflight movie is going to be. I spent the last 45 minutes of this movie hoping, praying that we could all watch it too. Anything but this.
Call me J.