Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
Movie buffs everywhere will agree there's nothing more irritating than getting to know a character and then watching the actor who plays he/she be replaced in the second or third installment of the series. It completely destroys the persona we have of the character and we lose all the attachments we've had for them since the beginning of the story. Like it or not, it's something directors and actors have to deal with, either out of necessity, conflicting schedules, or (like recent events) out of pure anger. Check out this list of celebrity flip-flops in movies throughout the years and decide for yourself if producers made the right call to switch things up or not:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen vs. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Megan Fox was the expected leading lady for the third Transformer's installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, coming to theaters July 1. After her ill advised Hitler remark about director, Michael Bay, she got booted and replaced by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Note to self: don't get on Steven Spielberg's bad side. Who's the better fit for this role?
The Twilight Saga: New Moon vs. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Rachelle Lefevre - who played the vengeful vampire, Victoria, in the first two movies of the Twilight phenomena - was instructed to hand in her fangs for last year's box office hit, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. She was replaced mid-saga by Terminator Salvation actress, Bryce Dallas Howard. Was this the producers' way of saying that all vampires look alike? The switch was said to be due to scheduling conflicts. I guess some vampires don't live forever...
Batman Begins vs. The Dark Knight
Katie Holmes decided not to reprise her Batman Begins role as Rachel Dawes in the following installation The Dark Knight. Apparently, if you get married and have a baby and then your whole set of priorities change. Mrs. Cruise ended up doing us all a favor since she was replaced by the lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal, who gave great strength and depth to the role. Now if only they had cast her from the very beginning. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets vs. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Now some replacements can't be helped. When Richard Harris died after the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the director was left with no choice but to find somebody to take his place as the adored, omnipresent headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore. That somebody turned out to be Michael Gambon who stoically took up the reins in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. This tragic loss filled all avid Harry Potter fans (including myself) with a deep sense of foreshadowing since Dumbledore's character is killed later on in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Spooky. Silence of the Lambs vs. Hannibal "Hello Clarice" or rather...goodbye. After delivering a stellar performance as Clarice Starling in the fantastic thriller, Silence of the Lambs, Jodie Foster passed on the chance to reprise her role as Dr. Lecter's favorite experiment. She apparently opted out of the role for the chance to direct actress, Claire Danes, in the movie Flora Plum. So disappointed fans watched in horror as Julianne Moore transformed (or at least tried to) into Detective Starling in the follow up movie, Hannibal. I think we were all ready to eat our own arms after sitting through that performance. Batman Returns vs. Batman Forever vs. Batman & Robin The filmmakers of the original Batman movies went a step further in trying to drive viewers crazy by replacing the lead role 3 DIFFERENT TIMES! Yes indeed, Michael Keaton played a convincing batman in both Batman and Batman Returns, but then things start to get a little "batty." Val Kilmer starred as the dark hero of Gotham city in Batman Forever and none other than George Clooney finished out the saga in Batman & Robin (because, why not?). I know that Batman wears a mask, so who would know if it were the same man each time, but what about Bruce Wayne?! We can see that they are completely different people that don't look anything alike. That would be like if Zac Efron, not Robert Pattinson, starred as Edward Cullen in the upcoming Twilight movie: Breaking Dawn. Fans would knock your Twi-lights out. Home Alone 2 vs. Home Alone 3 Macaulay Culkin won America's heart over in his role of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The movies were a big hit and became majorly successful, so you can imagine the children's excitement when Home Alone 3 was released. Kids were severely disappointed once they discovered that not only was Culkin nowhere to be found, but it was a completely different character as well. Alex Linz played Alex Pruitt (what happened to Kevin?) a young boy who has to ward off thieves from committing crimes. No familiar faces, no recognizable character names. Someone may have wanted to rethink the title a little as to not get people confused. Might I suggest Home By Yourself? ="font-weight:>