Flight (2012)

flight-posterStarring Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Tamara Tunie, Nadine Velazquez, Brian Geraghty, Peter Gerety, Garcelle Beauvais, Justin Martin

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: Moderate.

twohalfstar


The elements for a fantastic movie are in place, but Flight is much too long-winded and unfocused to get its point across succinctly. I really did like the film, don’t get me wrong, but there’s only so many scenes of Denzel Washington throwing caution to the wind and getting drunk that I can take. I suppose that’s all part of his journey, but it felt long to me. In any case, at its heart Flight is a movie about alcoholism. Anyone who’s dealt with an alcoholic (or with addiction itself) can tell you that it’s a frustrating experience, and Flight recreates that frustration wonderfully. I’m unsure if that’s a compliment, but I’m pretty sure it is… I think.

Flight tells the story of Whip Whitaker, a pilot with a serious substance abuse problem, particularly vodka and cocaine (but he’ll take what he can get). If only someone had told him about all the great low cost and free rehabs for addicts out there. Anyway, the film opens on the aftermath of a night of sex and heavy drinking, and in just a few hours Whip must pilot a commercial airliner from Florida to Atlanta. It’s a short flight… what could go wrong? Everything, apparently. Once in the air, the turbulence is immense, but despite his drunkenness he’s still a good pilot who’s confident and able to do his job. This flight sequence is unforgettable and incredibly well-done, easily the most thrilling and memorable scene in the film. Shame it comes at the beginning, especially in such a long, understated character study.

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Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Jeffrey Weissman, Flea

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: High, I love this one too.


For some reason Back to the Future Part III gets a bad rap. I just don’t get it. I’ve always loved this one and wondered why so many consider it a poor series entry. Not only does the story deftly fit within the framework built in the previous two films, it builds upon it even more. There were quite a few themes and loose ends left at the end of Part II, and Part III brings them all together in the closing moments and perfectly caps off the series. What’s not to like?

Doc Brown is stuck in the Old West and Marty happens upon some info that he can’t sit on. Despite Doc’s explicit warning not to come get him in the past, Marty does what he feels is right and makes the jump. Of course it’s not as simple as finding Doc, throwing him in the car and speeding off into the future and this time around our main heavy is Biff’s ancestor Buford Tannen, once again expertly played by Thomas F. Wilson. Seriously, he fits perfectly into any wacky role Zemeckis and Bob Gale can cook up for him.

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Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, James Tolkan, Jeffrey Weissman, Flea, Casey Siemaszko, Billy Zane, J.J. Cohen, Charles Fleischer

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: High, I love this one too.


How do you follow-up one of the most exciting, entertaining and enthralling films of all-time? It’s a nearly impossible situation to be in for any filmmaker, but thankfully Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were up to the task. Back to the Future Part II builds on the fiction of the first film beautifully, taking us on an even faster paced thrill ride through time. Doc Brown takes Marty and Jennifer into the year 2015 (so yes, you’ve only got three more years to wait for your flying car). Doc did some temporal snooping and found out about a few events worth avoiding in the McFly family timeline. He enlists Marty to impersonate his own son so that they can nip these problems in the bud. Of course, it does not go as planned and we have a ridiculously exciting film on our hands.

I haven’t seen this one nearly as much as I’ve seen the original; the ratio is probably 10:1. This makes for a lot of fun when re-visiting the film, as I remember general plot points and scenes, but nothing in great detail. For instance, I’m always surprised at how little future stuff there is, as the characters are only in the future for one section of the film. Due to this fact, I am able to judge this film more objectively than the first, which isn’t to say that some nostalgia isn’t clouding my vision.

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Back to the Future (1985)

Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Claudia Wells, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, George DiCenzo, Frances Lee McCain, James Tolkan

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Expectations: I know exactly what to expect. Pure greatness.


Four stars? Really? Perhaps I am being overly generous due to a good twenty-six years of unadulterated love for this movie, but after re-watching it for what is probably the fiftieth time, Back to the Future still excites, delights and is just flat-out awesome. As I’m sure everyone has seen the film, this is nothing close to a revelation, but as Back to the Future is one of my favorite films, I simply could not watch it and not write something about it.

You know the story, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) creates a time machine and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) mistakenly finds himself in 1955 with no definite way back to the future. It’s such a joy to watch the plot unfold, as each detail in the opening 1985 sequence, small or large, comes into play beautifully in 1955. It’s so perfectly laid out, so flawlessly plotted, so relentlessly paced. The beauty of it all is just how well it works amidst its quick pacing, as the film throws quite a bit of time travel info and space-time continuum references at you. In the hands of lesser filmmakers this could spell disaster, but Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have crafted a time travel fantasy for the ages. In its complexity, it is actually ultra-simplistic though, working on basic themes and ideas easily relatable, making for what is hands down one of the best mainstream crossover science fiction/fantasy films of all time.

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