Flightplan [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Graeme Tuckett/Noor Razzak. (4th January 2007).
The Film

Originally released theatrically only a few short weeks after Wes Craven's not-all-that-bad "Red Eye" (2005), which also made very heavy weather of the perils of sitting next to strangers on planes, "Flighplan" is a promising slice of sub-Hitchcock nonsense. "Red Eye" was let down by a third act that sacrificed all of its excellent set up for a daft series of car chases and climaxes that would not have looked out of place in "Spy Kids" (2001).

"Flight Plan" does better, marginally, by having a conclusion so convoluted and baffling that I still, three days after seeing the damned thing, actually can't work out exactly what the protagonists were trying to achieve. (No surprises there, I've seen "The Usual Suspects" (1995) dozens of times, and I still can't decide whether it makes sense or not.)

Reprising her "Panic Room" (2002) shtick, Jodie Foster stars as a very post-modern "woman-in-peril". Recently widowed ("He fell, he did not jump!") she is returning to America from Berlin with, apparently, her young daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston). Taking a well earned snooze once aboard, Foster awakes to find her daughter has vanished.
Cue an increasingly hysterical sequence of searches and tantrums, before someone produces a passenger list that states that the daughter was never aboard. Bring on the cellos and buckle yourself in for a film that is one part thriller, and one part a Cronenburg-ish pastiche of the current Hollywood vogue for cheap mind games: Is Foster mad? Does the daughter even exist? Are those Arab's in the front row up to no good? You think that's air you're breathing? (Sorry, wrong movie.)

What works, and works well, is the blazing intensity that Foster brings to the party. It ain't pretty, but it's credible and very effective at vaulting over some of the more ludicrous contrivances of "Flightplan's" credulity-straining script. Surrounded by a bunch of B-listers, (including a very subdued Sean Bean) Foster rips through her work and leaves her co-stars bruised and floundering in her wake.
Likewise the setting and camerawork; "Flightplan" is a handsomely mounted and occasionally dazzling piece of film making... none of which adds up to a recommendation, but if you're in the mood for a deft piece of hokum with delusions of intelligence, then you could actually do a lot worse.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this anamorphic widescreen transfer is presented in full 1080p high-definition using VC-1 compression, which is a first for Buena Vista considering their previous releases were encoded using MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. In any case this film's transfer is considerably better than the standard DVD counterpart, which isn't surprising and fixes all the minor faults that the DVD version had, the image is considerably sharper, with fine detail visible. Another problem with the DVD release was some edge-enhancement, which is nowhere to be found on this transfer. Additionally the blacks are effective and bold, leaving no noticeable noise considering a vast majority of this film's lighting is quite dark. Skin tones appear accurate and no print damage or other flaws are evident. This is by all accounts an excellent transfer.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included, an uncompressed English PCM 5.1 surround track as well as an English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM track. Much like the superb image the audio is just as pleasurable to listen to, the surround channels are in use almost all the time but you wouldn't necessarily notice because the sound mix is very naturalistic and subtle, this makes you feel you are on board the plane with the characters and unobtrusively immerses the viewer into the film. Additionally the dialogue is presented clear and distortion free, the film's score floats around the sound space with equal efficiency for an overall fantastic surround mix.

Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista has released this film with only a few extras from the the previous DVD release, they include an audio commentary, two short featurettes plus a Blu-ray exclusive short film. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we have a feature-length audio commentary by director Robert Schwentke, in this track the director discusses the development of the script, the casting of the film as well as various creative decisions that were made from the visual look of the film to the production design of the Aalto plane that makes up the main setting of the film. Schwentke seems to provide a lot of information pertaining to each of the sequences of the film and seems to always have something to say. It's a good listen if you care to revisit the film.

Next up is "Emergency Landing: Visual Effects" runs for 7 minutes 29 seconds, for the DVD release this clip was apart of a 40+ minute documentary presented in 5-parts, each part represented a featurette covering a specific aspect of the production. For some reason Buena Vista decided to just include this segment relating to the effects only on this release. In this clip we learn about the different effects techniques used to bring the plane to life, considering it doesn't exist in real life. The filmmaker's utilized miniature models as well as CGI to give the miniature plane depth and sense of size.

Next up we have the "Cabin Pressure: Designing the Aalto E-474" featurette which runs for 10 minutes 1 second. In this clip we take a look at the production design of the film's main location, the plane. The production designer takes us through the process of design form researching various planes, the building process of the set, the choice of colors for each of the different sections of the plane as well as creating rigs to fit cameras within the confined space of the plane's hallways to achieve smooth tracking shots.

Rounding out the supplements is a exclusive short film created as part of the 'Blu-Scape shorts' which is a series of films directed by award-winning filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg. the short film featured on this disc is entitled "Jet Stream" and runs for 5 minutes. This is basically a plane ride through the clouds and features some relaxing music.

Also included is "Movie Showcase" which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.

Overall

Considering this is a dual-layered 50GB disc I was disappointed that the extras were stripped down for this release, this is a trend I'd like to see stopped as there is no good reason to have dropped all those DVD extras.


The film has been reviewed by Graeme Tuckett and was first published in The Captial Times. Review used with permission, the specs for this release was reviewed by Noor Razzak. 2007 Graeme Tuckett / Noor Razzak

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: C- Overall: B

 


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