Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
If you don’t want to know the outcome of Flight of the Phoenix, you of course should avoid the 1965 will-they-make-it-out-of-the-desert? drama starring Jimmy Stewart. And you should also, er, avoid reading the title. John Moore’s remake of The Flight of the Phoenix may not measure up to its predecessor with all that movie’s fancy “acting,” and really, the virtually point-by-point reimagining by scripters Scott Frank and—Ed Burns?!—didn’t take much imagination at all. But anyone going into this action-adventure with fresh eyes—and low expectations—could do a lot worse. Yes, there are bad lines (“I think a bee stung your big dumbass head!”), highly convenient plot turns (evil nomads who wait until the most dramatic moment to attack), and one cheesy musical interlude (to “Hey Ya!”—hiphop that even the white people can enjoy). We know that the majority of the passengers took that doomed flight out of Mongolia because their oil rig was shut down, but the movie seems less concerned about who they are than the fact that each adds diversity: The modern cast now includes a woman (Lord of the Rings’ Miranda Otto), two black men (Tyrese Gibson and Kirk Jones, aka Sticky Fingaz), a Mexican (Jacob Vargas), a vaguely Middle Eastern man (Kevork Malikyan), and a handful of white dudes (most notably Dennis Quaid as the cocky pilot and a bleach-blond Giovanni Ribisi as the flight’s Poindexter/Nazi). But the scene that takes the plane bouncing through a black-orange sandstorm before it crashes is spectacular, and the continued setbacks the gang faces while stranded in the middle of nowhere are Saturday-matinee suspenseful. And though Ribisi may be the only actor here who doesn’t phone it in, no worries: His adenoidal, Hannibal-on-helium performance as the creepily needy brains behind the group’s Hail Mary shot at survival would make the 1965 Flight crew proud.