January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Jodie Foster picks her projects very carefully, much like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and George Clooney. So when someone like Foster is in a major Hollywood movie – we all naturally assume that it must be good. After all 2002’s “Panic Room” wasn’t up for any Academy Awards, but it was a gripping and tense thriller. Could she repeat three years later with “Flightplan”. Sort of. “Flightplan” is based off the best-selling book by Michael Crichton who has also penned “The Andromeda Strain”, “Coma”, “Jurassic” and “Disclosure”. Has Crichton lost his touch or was the film like so many others that we’ve seen? And with the terrorist attacks still looming (though we’re approaching five years since 9/11) is it truly safe to head back to the skies for some “Passenger 57”-type dramas? Foster has teamed with Director Robert Schwentke who doesn’t really have too many “A” list movies to his credit (though he is slated to direct a remake of “Runaway Train”). But you’ve got all of the elements: A major star, a big budget and a script from an author proved to deliver commercial success when it comes to the big screen.

Foster plays Kyle, an engineer who helped design the jets to a new flagship airplane. She, along with a few hundred others, is en route. We learn very little, only that her husband has just died (his body is on the plane) and her daughter, Julia (Marlene Lawston) has a habit of wondering off and getting lost. Things start normally, but when Kyle doses off, she awakes to find her daughter missing. And then…well I’ll take a line from Roger Ebert in his review of this “…that’s all you’ll get from me.” You see to tell any more would not only deprive the viewer of the surprises intended, but giving away the plot isn’t always fun – even if it is a bit predictable. One thing I will say is that if you’ve seen the trailer – you’ve seen most of the movie but there will be a few surprises in store.

“Flightplan” is certainly not a bad movie, it does have its ups and downs but does benefit from good direction and a solid script. But after having just seen and reviewed “Red Eye” I can say that it is a much more enjoyable movie with much more tension, drama and suspense. Given the choice between the two I’d take “Red Eye”. I haven’t read the book by Crichton so I don’t know how loyal to the novel the movie was, but having read “Disclosure” and “Jurassic Park” I know that most of the details are left in. Foster might not have been back to her “Silence of the Lambs” status with this movie, but it is entertaining with a great supporting cast to boot: Sean Bean, Peter Sarsgaard and Erika Christensen among others. I’d recommend this for a rental.

Video: How does it look?

A majority of the movie takes place in the airplane – actually most all of it. So we’re not presented with the factors that most normal movies have to offer video-wise. The dark confines of the plane look good, sleek and modern. The wide 2.35:1 anamorphic image displays a good level of detail and I noticed no artifacting in the least. This is a new to DVD with limited features, so the bit rate is up there and I was hard-pressed to find much wrong with the image. There were a few instances of some softness in a few shots, so I’m taking the score down half a notch for that but on the whole it’s a great-looking transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The movie has two 5.1 tracks, a Dolby Digital one and as a welcome addition a DTS track is included as well. I chose to initially listen to the DTS track since they rarely, if ever, disappoint when it comes to audio. The track has a very rich, robust feel to it that really gives a majority of the scenes an added ambiance. Dialogue was clean and natural and the surrounds were almost always constantly humming away. There was also a lot of activity in the LFE channel as well. The Dolby track sounded nearly as good, but I’d give the edge to the DTS track. Either way you go, you won’t be disappointed.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The disc is surprisingly lacking in the supplements department with a standard “Making of…” featurette as well as a segment on how they built the set for the airplane. Schwentke offers his comments on the accompanying track, talking mainly of the challenge of shooting on the huge set, working with Foster and adapting the book from Crichton. And that’s it – you won’t get anything else. “Flightplan” is a good movie, but I can’t really recommend adding this to your collection unless you’re a die-hard fan of the movie. Still, there are far worse out there so give it a rental frist.

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