Pilot Frank "Shut 'Em Down" Towns (Dennis Quaid) arrives in Mongolia to close down an unprosperous oil rig and fly the disgruntled crew home. Along for the ride are his partner A.J. (Tyrese) the oil company's fetching but feisty female foreman (Miranda Otto) the company man (Hugh Laurie) assorted grease monkeys and one very odd hitchhiker (Giovanni Ribisi). Townes foolishly decides to fly into a sandstorm instead of turning back resulting in a forced landing that has them stranded in the middle of the Gobi desert with little hope of rescue. Moviegoers will likely be comparing the film not to the original but to TV's similar plane crash story Lost. Like Lost there's a reluctant leader a spunky babe a wise Arabic guy and lots of life-or-death tension. (Sorry no polar bears). Once they realize no rescue is coming they concoct a risky plan to get home although not everyone's sold on the idea.
Dennis Quaid is his usual roguish self as Towns a crusty arrogant but still charming guy who might be Harrison Ford's brother from Six Days Seven Nights. Heavy lifting isn't required by the actors in a film like this but indie fave Giovanni Ribisi turns in a nicely twitchy performance as Elliott the fellow who turns out to be strangely important to their survival. Miranda Otto (Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings films) is once again believably self-sufficient and is spared any romantic overtures from her fellow survivors. Hugh Laurie's character is at first merely "the suit " but gradually pitches in with the blue-collar workers. Tony Curran and Tyrese buddy up as they pull together to salvage what they can from the wrecked plane. As the chef Jacob Vargas supplies much of the comedy while desert know-how comes from Kevork Malikyan.
John Moore who also directed the rah-rah actioner Behind Enemy Lines clearly likes stories about men in desperate circumstances leavened by unlikely bonding and humor. The Gobi desert never looked more beautiful or more ominous with its mysteriously shifting sand. The plane crash might not be able to rival The Day After Tomorrow's tornados or jaw-dropping tidal wave but is still horrifyingly riveting. If you can't predict every beat of the finale however you clearly haven't seen enough movies.
Bono, Irish rock band U2's outspoken lead singer, was one of the key--and, of course, more exciting--participants at the World Economic Forum in New York this past week. He was there as a voice for the world's poorer nations, for which Bono has been tirelessly campaigning for many years. He was trying to seek common ground among the conservative U.S. politicians and some of the world's richest men. Of course, the rock star recognized the irony of his own presence.
"The great thing about hanging out with Republicans is that it's very unhip for both of us. There's a parity of pain here," Bono said at a news conference Saturday, referring to his newfound conservative party friends, including Microsoft's Bill Gates and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
Asia launched its first MTV Asia Awards Saturday, honoring their own homegrown talent. Some artists who picked up awards included Hong Kong singer Sammi Cheng, Philippines favorite Regine Velasquez and martial arts superstar Jackie Chan. Pop singer Mandy Moore and ex-Boyzone front man Ronan Keating hosted the event.
The English mystery The Others took top honors at Spain's Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences awards, the country's equivalent to the Oscars. It took eight awards, including best film and best director. Even though directed by Spanish Alejandro Amenabar, many Spanish filmmakers were upset by the film's recognition.
Richard Gere is doing his part for the people of Tibet. He will speak at Germany's parliament in April to discuss Himalayan human rights and further his fight against Chinese rule there. A devoted Buddhist and friend of the Dalai Lama, Gere has been actively protesting against China for their religious and cultural repression in the Himalayan region.
Musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim and his partner John Weidman settled a lawsuit against producer Scott Rudin and regained the sole rights to the musical Gold!. The Broadway show is about the 19th-century adventures and scams of brothers Wilson and Addison Minzer and will now move forward as planned.
Just when you thought it was safe…Canadian pop diva Celine Dion told Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 that she is ready to make a comeback. The singer has taken the last two years off to live a normal life and have a child. Starting next year, Dion will appear five nights a week for three years at Caesar's Palace hotel in Las Vegas for a reported $100 million.
The 16-year-old Robert Iler, who plays sulky teen A.J. Soprano on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, refused a no-jail misdemeanor deal from prosecutors. He is being charged with felony robbery for mugging two teens for $40 last July. Apparently, to cinch the deal, Iler would have to admit in court that he is indeed guilty, something he is not willing to do at this time.
Since the horrors of Sept. 11, contemporary Christian music sales are on the rise. Inspirational bands such as Plus One, Third Day, Jars of Clay and Christian pop singer Jaci Velasquez are topping the charts. "We all grew up in the church and we knew that God had given us a gift, whether it's to sing or whether to play instruments musically," said Plus One band member Jason Perry. "We wanted to be a part of something that we love, but also to bring glory to Jesus Christ."
A Ft.Lauderdale, Fla. judge sent actor Brad Renfro (Ghost World) to jail Tuesday after he turned himself in for a probation violation. Renfro was serving probation for trying to steal a yacht in August 2000 and violated that probation when he got arrested Jan. 14 in Knoxville, Tenn. for driving without a license and public intoxication.
International German star Hildegard Knef, best known for starring as a concentration camp survivor in the 1946 Murderers Are Among Us, the first post-WWII German movie, died of a lung infection Friday in Berlin. She was 76.