Flight of the Phoenix (2004)

Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Dennis Quaid, Miranda Otto, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese Gibson
Survivors of a plane crash in the Mongolian desert work together to build a new plane.
What this update lacks in tension, it makes up for with generic action.
  • 20th Century Fox Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Dec 2004 Released:
  • 01 Mar 2005 DVD Release:
  • $20.9M Box office:

All subtitles:


Not as Good as the Original7/10
This remake of the 1960's Flight of the Phoenix is very unsatisfying. The character development is not as rich as the the James Stewart version. Dennis Quaid simply did not portray the depth of emotion that James Stewart did in the original. Giovani Ribli was good as the model plane designer but again he didn't get enough scenes and Harvey Kruger's portrayal had a lot more edge. Also missing was the Richard Attenborough character who keeps the Phoenix project going. His role was combined in the characters of several of the cast in the remake.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad film. I view it as a companion piece to the original. The special effects were awesome. Being trapped in the Gobi or Sahara (as in the original) was more meaningful to me when I saw the vast desolation of the desert in this remake. See the original Phoenix for its wonderful character study and see the remake for it's special effects and you have one fabulous picture. The original Phoenix stands on its own. My recommendation is see the original and then view the remake.
What a waste of time!1/10
If you are planning to see this movie, don't bother. It's a poor remake of a very good old movie. As a pilot, and from a pilot's point of view, the crash scene was completely unbelievable. If you aren't a pilot, you may enjoy the crash scenes, but I can tell you that the plane would have been in tiny pieces before it ever hit the ground. Once it hit the first sand dune, it would have broken up into small chunks after the first ground strike.

The interaction between the actors was forced, and never really developed.

The most unbelievable part came when yet another! freak sand storm comes up and the Phoenix is sitting on the sand and starts to lift up as if ready to fly. A few moments later, you see the fuselage of the original plane rolled over by the wind. Yet, the Phoenix doesn't get blown away (even though it's got wings (the fuselage doesn't)) and it's trying to fly as the wind picks up.

Next, we see our heroes sitting on the sand and the Phoenix is almost completely buried but the sand blown around by the sand storm.

Quite dramatically, the decision is made to dig the plane out of the sand. Give thought to trying to dig a 2 bedroom house out of a 10 foot drift of sand after spending a week or two in the desert with little or no water, a few cans of peaches and you have an idea of the task facing our heroes. To get an idea, just go out in your yard and dig a hole 2 feet deep and 2 feet square. It will take you a LONG time to do it. Imagine doing it under the conditions described above! Yeah, right! The next scene shows the Phoenix dramatically out of the sand, clean and undamaged, and ready to fly! Once again, yeah, right.

Finally, our heroes get the plane started with a hoard of Mongolian Marauders chasing them into flight. Of course, there is the perfunctory scene when a cable to the rudder is shot away by automatic rifle fire and the engineer has to climb back on the fuselage to dramatically fix it while keeping from falling off or getting shot by the hoard of horsemen. Ho hum.

And, of course, we all fly off into the sunset.

Get a copy of the Jimmy Stewart version. A much better film.
Woeful - many factual and logical errors1/10
Here's just a few things that make no sense...

1. They fly out of a mine site in Mongolia (Gobi desert - frozen high altitude wastelands). But they crash in a hot sandy desert that looks pretty much like the Sahara where they are all running around in short sleeves. How did that happen? They flew from central Asia to Africa? The Gobi just got 40 degrees hotter with a whole lot of sand? 2. Aeronautical dude says the plane is overweight. If that's so, how did it get out of a high altitude airfield in the fist place? And it didn't just creep off the ground if ripped into the air at a ridiculous rate of climb.

3. Last night when the new plane is ready, it gets completely buried in a sand storm, except for the tail. Damn! What a sandstorm. A whole plane buried in one night. But even more amazing, they dig it out in one day using only one shovel. So that's say .... a couple of thousand tons of sand? And that's not even counting the runway, which presumably would have been buried too.

4. They decide to earth the plane in an electrical storm. Well that would make it a brilliant path to ground for an electric strike, ensuring that it gets completely destroyed. Passenger jets get struck by lighting quite often but they always survive because the lighting doesn't have a path to earth through the jet. Grounding of planes is to prevent static discharge during fuelling, not to dissipate a lighting strike.

5. The petrol cans explode when some sparks drift onto them. Don't they always on Hollywood? (dangerous part of the world). Petrol does not explode unless it is in the exact ratio of 14.7:1 with air. That's why cars need a carburettor. Otherwise, it just burns. Anyway setting fire to the spillage on the outside of a can won't make the contents inside it burn, let alone explode.

6. An exploration site gets shut down, but the workers don't know until some some dickhead pilot turns and up says he's there to take them home? Yeh, right, that would happen.

Tons of other unbelievable nonsense. Not worth spending any more time to write about it. I got ripped off with this DVD. Worst movie in years.
The politically correct version of the flight of the phoenix!7/10
Almost 40 years after the original the 2005 version shows how much the world has changed. To start off with there is a woman passenger in this film unlike the original where the only female was an exotic Arabian dancer (although a mirage). In this version the frail girl passenger is a foul-mouthed oil driller who wears the obligatory tank top and spandex pants once the boiler suit has been discarded.

In addition to this we have two black men, one who is the co-pilot. In the original the Mexican dies in the ill-fated march through the desert however in 2005 the Mexican survives. (The writers are probably sensitive to the many Mexicans who die trying to cross the Arizona and Texas border in hot conditions). In fact he defies almost certain death when the wing of the new construction collapses on top of him but survives. In 1965 the cocky Scotsman survives but in the 2005 the Scotsman perishes in the shoot out with the nomads. Interestingly, we are still aloud to use nomads as the cruel bad guys, again in the original it was the Arabs who were the barbarians, that won't cut today, so it's probably why outer Mongolia was chosen.

However, the writers slipped up with their choice of the anti-hero. In the original the blond hared blue eyed bespectacled trouble maker was a German called Dorfman, who menacingly portrayed the stereotype of Nazi arrogance and superiority who audiences back in 1965 (20 years after the war) could easily hate; yet he turned out to be the hero in the end.

To bring it up to date and really be politically correct they should have used a Muslim. We all could have hated him but then hailed him as a hero in the end too. All in all a pointless remake and for die-hard fans of the original they may have a hard time swallowing this one. The original, which is a longer movie, is superior in portraying the hopelessness of their predicament as well as the underlying tensions between the survivors. Cowardice and bravery are on show in the 1965 version, but in this one ---, just stupidity!
ho-hum remake4/10
"Flight of the Phoenix" is at best a so-so remake of the fine Robert Aldrich adventure classic from1965. The plot in both films is fairly simple and straightforward. After a plane crash lands in the Gobi Desert, the survivors hit upon the notion of rebuilding the damaged vehicle in the hopes of flying it back to civilization. Dennis Quaid assumes the role, originally filled by Jimmy Stewart, of the pilot who, against all odds, endeavors to lead his passengers to safety.

Although the new version follows the original fairly closely in terms of both character delineation and plot development, the story doesn't seem quite as fresh today as it did when we first encountered it close to 40 years ago. Perhaps what's missing is the guiding hand of a master craftsman like Aldrich to really deliver the goods (John Moore, a far less distinguished director, is manning the controls here). This "Flight" feels awfully predictable and rote, as we plow our way through each of the various survival threats, rescue attempts and internecine personal conflicts that are standard in all such tales of survivors stranded in a hostile environment. Each of the characters steps out of the shadows to have his or her own Moment in the Sun (yes, in this version, there is actually a woman aboard), before receding dutifully into the background to allow the next person to do the same. About the only intriguing element in the story is the fact that the main character, the pilot of the plane, has to actually be talked into participating in the Quixotic rescue plan. Thus, he is a leader and a hero more by default than by design.

Although the crash itself is fairly impressive from a technical standpoint - despite a rather phony-looking, computer-generated sandstorm that brings the plane down - once we end up on the desert floor, the movie doesn't do a particularly effective job conveying the truly grueling nature of the predicament these individuals are facing. We never really get the sense that they are just a few water droplets away from dying of thirst or heatstroke. Moreover, the feat that they are able to accomplish seems barely credible - from a sheer mechanical engineering standpoint - given the lack of resources and expertise with which the group has to cope. The main weakness with a film like "Flight of the Phoenix" is that, when the plane goes down, we're stuck in the desert right along with the characters, and if they don't have anything particularly interesting to say to one another, we can feel just as stranded as they.

Thus, despite a few quality moments, this "Flight" never manages to get off the runway. Check out the original instead.