The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

December 10, 2012

‘Flight’: Does it take off or crash?

Monday, December 10, 2012 — First, I want to welcome Robert Zemeckis back to the world of live-action. As you probably already know, “Flight” is Zemeckis’ first direction of a live-action film since “Cast Away” in 2000. Over the last 12 years he has only directed animated features, each of which I have enjoyed immensely: “The Polar Express” (2004), “Beowulf” (2007) and “A Christmas Carol” (2009). Of course, before “Cast Away” he made many very popular and critically acclaimed films such as three “Back to the Future” films, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, “Romancing the Stone” (remember that one), “Contact” and a little film called “Forrest Gump.” I have missed Zemeckis’ live-action work, so once again I say, “welcome back.”

The first thing I would note about “Flight” is that Denzel Washington, who is extraordinary as commercial pilot Whip Whitaker, plays a very unlikable character. I did not get a sense of this in the previews, but throughout the film I kept thinking, “I do not like this guy.” There are moments that you feel sorry for Whip, but if I knew him in the real world, I do not believe I would want to spend time with him. And I found myself agreeing with those on screen who did not care for him either.

Of course, this may work in Washington’s favor. He is currently on the short list for Best Actor nominations. He has been nominated five times already, twice for Supporting and three times for Lead Actor. But here is the interesting thing: the two roles which garnered him Oscars, Trip the slave turned soldier in “Glory” and Alonzo the corrupt cop in “Training Day,” are both extremely unlikable characters. Perhaps that’s Washing-ton’s formula for Oscar gold, play a character who turns off the audience and you can’t lose. For sure, Washington’s performance as Whip succeeds and is worthy of another trophy.

 There are other things about the film that work well. Supporting performances from Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle and John Goodman are all good. Goodman has had an incredible streak lately with a supporting performance in last year’s Best Picture “The Artist” and this year with “Flight” and “Argo.”

The climatic crash sequence is stunning, which is what we would expect from the man who placed “Forrest Gump” in all those historical settings. Zemeckis knows his way around in the special effects department. Some of the crash sequence has been given away in the previews, which is unfortunate. But there are still enough new elements to make this extended scene powerful and thrilling.

And there are some interesting subplots here which deal with religious faith, Whip’s family, addictions, legal maneuvering and the press. All of these things, among others, flesh out this story of fate and responsibility.

As I have written before and I often say, there is no greater experience in going to the cinema than discovering a film that goes in a completely different direction than you anticipated but ultimately proves to be more satisfying than you could have hoped. Far too often films give us exactly what we expect, and yet we go back to see predictable films time and time again. “Flight” is not one of those films. I appreciate that. I attribute much of that to screenwriter John Gatkins who also wrote last year’s “Real Steel” (which I found to be surprisingly fun). I contribute the rest to the brilliance of Robert Zemeckis. Whenever I hear his name connected to a project I get excited. So as much as I have enjoyed his three animated features in the last 12 years, I sincerely hope he’s back at home in the world of live-action features.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content