Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Movie Review: Flight (R - 138 minutes)

We have descended into the time of year where the summer blockbusters are finally moving out of theaters, the halloween horror movies are shifting on - and the Festival Circut/Award Films start hitting the theaters.  These are movies that the film companies release late in the year (November/December), sometimes after they have been back and forth through some of the film festivals and are now entering 'wide release'.  It usually makes for a boring November/December movie-wise (thank goodness for SkyFall!); if you are into the big, loud fun popcorn movies like I am. 
Robert Zemeckis has not made a movie with live action people in it since 2000, when he released Castaway - which, in case you had forgotten, was almost three hours of Tom Hanks trapped on an island with a volleyball - or - a really amazing character study with a background of survival through difficult circumstances.
Between then and now - Zemeckis was tooling around with attempting to make computer animated movies look as real as possible, with Beowulf, the Polar Express, and a Christmas Carol.
That brings us to 2012, and Zemeckis's new piece, Flight.  In the same way that I would describe Castaway as almost three hours of Tom Hanks alone on an island with a volleyball; I would describe Flight as almost three hours of Denzel Washington drinking and driving the people around him crazy.
Flight is the story of a somewhat-broken down commercial airline pilot, 'Whip' Whitaker (Denzel Washington), who miraculously lands a plane after a malfunction and saves a great many people.  However, during the investigation of the crash, his background of drinking and drugs comes to light. 
I found this movie difficult to describe at first.  It was marketed as a bit of an event movie, with some humorous parts.  I definitely should have known better - do not trust the marketing of films this time of year (for the record, the new Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook is definitely not a RomCom, despite the marketing for it).   This is not an event movie, it's not a comedy, it's not really a drama, it's not really a recovery movie - it absolutely is a character study; similar to Castaway.  Zemeckis does an amazing job directing everyone in this movie, and there will absolutely be some Oscar nominations.  I did have some issues with bits.  During the entire opening of the movie where we are introduced to Denzel's character, Nadine Velazquez (best known as Catalina on My Name is Earl) is completely naked for the scene.  I have pointed out in the past how much I dislike PTSs.  This wasn't even that - at least in a dumb action movie, I can accept a PTS.  This was a naked chick for 10 minutes that made no sense, did not advance the story, and did not prove a point - and thusly - annoyed me immensely.  There are also several scenes setting up Kelly Reilly's character that involve her visiting her dealer on a porn movie set and shooting up - all before we have any idea why her character is in the movie.  Again - these pieces serve to establish character, but for me personally, I could have done with less...just less of the seediness of these characters.
In terms of the cast, almost everyone was brilliant:
  • Denzel will absolutely be nominated for his performance as Whip.  He portrays a functioning alcoholic who is very aware of his problem, but does not consider it a problem.  You know he did an amazing job, because when I saw this movie, the theater was full - and every time his character reached for a drink - every single person in the theater groaned in dismay.  This is proof that the audience wanted to be on his side, and was disappointed by him - a statement that he was doing a great job as an actor.  And yes, spoiler alert - he has a 'happy' ending (meaning he finally gets some help with the drinking).
  • British actress Kelly Reilly plays the heroin addict who eventually circles into Whip's existence.  As I said, I could not figure out why we were seeing her story in such detail until she did encounter Whip at the hospital.  She helps to ground his character, but not completely, and was very good in the movie.
  • Tamara Tunie, who is often on Law and Order SVU, plays a flight attendant who is very familiar with Whip and his foibles.  She plays this character just right - someone who wants to do the right thing, but is torn because of her years of loyalty and friendship.  It's a minor role that is really well done.
  • Bruce Greenwood plays the representative of the pilot's union who comes to visit Whip in the hospital and help guide him through the investigation as it progresses.  He has been great in many things lately - he voices Batman in a few animated movies/shows (when Kevin Conroy is not), and was great as Captain Pike in J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot.  He is really good in this as someone who is Whip's friend, but is well aware of his troubles.
  • Don Cheadle steals the scenes that he is in as the lawyer representing Whip and the pilot's union.  He is cutthroat and direct, wiping out the toxicology report that shows Whip was intoxicated during the crash.  He plays the role straightforward and understated.
  • John Goodman is barely in this, but is so watchable and entertaining in the scenes that he is in - between this and Argo, he should get a best supporting actor nomination from one of them.  He plays Whip's neighbor/friend/dealer and is the most over-the-top character in the movie, providing the only comic relief in an otherwise very heavy movie.  He was also with Denzel in Fallen, and incidentally Cheadle worked with Denzel in Devil in a Blue Dress...that has nothing to do with this review - it's just an interesting bit of trivia that might come in handy at another time!
Objectively, this is a really well crafted, fantastically acted, well written film.  Personally, I hated it.  It clocks in at almost 2 and a half hours, which is way too long for any character study, in my opinion.  It's super long, and a bit depressing, and emotionally draining.  So, in short (too late) well done, but not my cup of tea...hell, not my cup of any beverage.
4 out of 10.  Lost points for far too many close-ups of Denzel.  Yes, he's good looking, but he's also 58 now, the camera doesn't need to be that close.  Lost points for the excessive drinking and drug use - I know, I know, that's what the movie's about....Lost the rest of the points for Nadine being naked in the beginning - I have no interest in seeing that.  Gained one point for Denzel's butt, he tried to compensate for the naked chick in the beginning, which I appreciate, but as stated...he's 58 now.
Bonus Video 1:  Remember Don Cheadle on Fresh Prince of Bel Aire?
Bonus Video 2: Bruce Greenwood and Neil Patrick Harris...If you haven't seen Batman: Under the Red Hood - you really should.
Bonus Video 3:  Virtuosity - far and away my favorite Denzel movie, far far and away my favorite Russel Crowe movie.  From 1995 - cheesy and entertaining:
Bonus Video 4:  Red Carpet Cast Interviews!


  1. I now worry about how well he would have landed the plane if he wasn't drinking. Good review. I hope to see this flick soon.

  2. Good review Jeanette. I liked it because of Washington's amazing performance, and how it didn't really present me with a story that was all that clear-cut in the first-place. You actually had to think about a lot here on what you consider right, and what you consider wrong.