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Zemeckis and Washington Take Flight

Posted on | November 2, 2012 | Add Comments

Flight (2012) Flight (the closing night movie at this years new York Film Festival which celebrated it’s half century birthday this year) is out in cinemas today, opening in around 1,800 theaters. Robert Zemeckis hasn’t directed a film since 2000’s Cast Away. Both films feature thrillingly suspenseful plane crashes and a lead performance that carries the entire movie. But don’t expect to see humans talking to volleyballs. Robert Zemeckis (even more so than his pal and mentor Steven Spielberg) has made even his most adult dramas into often made up stories that unlike many of Spielberg’s films are not based on hard to deal with subject matter and have a bit of fantasy in them. But all that might be about to change.

Flight (2012)Flight (not based on real events) tells the story of Whip Whitaker, a high flying daredevil drinker. On a certain plane ride he saves 96 lives, though 4 die, by steering the plane to safety. When he wakes up at the hospital he’s a hero, but there are serious doubts about him as well. A lawyer (Don Cheadle) tries to help him although he believes he has “alchahol in his system”. Will Whip go to jail or will his lawyer and some other pals help him out?

Flight (2012)The trailer doesn’t say much but leaves some clues leading me to believe the film is structured around not just the plane crash but a nail biting, spine tingling court meeting that decides the fate of Whip. Whip also gets involved with romance, the lives of some of the passengers on the plane when it was flown to safety, and perhaps some family drama. While Zemeckis is an extremely talented, capable director the movie is resting it’s laurels on Denzel Washington. And based on everything I’ve seen and heard about the film, that’s a great choice.

Will Washington win an Oscar for his role? He’s no stranger to the academy, having won twice for Glory (1989) and Training Day (2001). He’s also been nominated thrice for Cry Freedom (1987), Malcolm X (1992), and The Hurricane (1999). However this under the radar drama will need lasting power through all of awards season if Washington is even to get nominated. Why? Well, with actors like Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, and especially Daniel Day-Lewis, among others, seeming like locks for the category, staying power for a film (and a performance) is crucial. Washington hasn’t been in a true conversation starter of a role for a while now but I’m guessing a nomination for him will the Academy’s nod to the film. Rolling Stone magazine critic Peter Travers declares “Washington’s performance will be talked about for years.” As for other categories, such as Best Picture and Director, a boatload of nominations seem unlikely thanks to a not quite rapturous amount of praise and the stiffest competition in years. However the movie has a shot some technical categories such as sound, special effects, and maybe musical score.

Back To The Future (1985)I am not allowed to see Flight, because it is rated R mainly for adult themes, but if I could I would. One of the most intriguing parts about the film is that it seems to be super suspenseful. I genuinely don’t know the ending, unlike most films where you can tell by trailers, reviews, the target audience, and the tone of the story what will happen. The acting, direction, and other usual elements of a film production all look perfected to the highest level, as well. Of Zemeckis’ career I have only seen 4 of his films: Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Polar Express, and A Christmas Carol. He’s very capable, talented, and respectable.

As for the box office my guess is Flight will soar to $15.9 million this weekend. While Argo has been consistently doing great at the box office my guess is that it will drop to third place with $10.6 million. As for fourth place new release The Man With The Iron Fists should claim the spot with around $6.8 million, while fifth place will go to critically acclaimed flop Cloud Atlas with $6.5 million. Last and least Hotel Transylvania should do fine with $5.9 million.at sixth place. But apart from Argo’s holdover grosses Flight’s biggest competion is the animated, video game themed Disney family comedy, Wreck-It Ralph. Reviews have been surprisingly enthusiastic and the ads are funny, appealing, and show just what younger kids want at a movie: laughs, action, and fun. But it’s a kids movie so how will it affect Flight’s grosses? Because I’m predicting it’ll open at the top spot with $50.9 million. With many kids excited to see this movie they’ll need someone to take them and that will be their parents. And since most people don’t see two movies in a weekend they probably won’t have time to see Flight. Apart from some big flops Washington’s films have almost always opened to $20 million when opening in 2,000+ theaters but with Flight opening in only 1,900 even those who want to see the movie might not get a chance. And there are two non film related events that could make this a much weaker box office weekend than I have just predicted: Hurricane Sandy and the election. The storm is wrapping up but has still done enough damage so that not everyone will be able to got the movies this weekend. And lesser but still likely is the election. Not all adults may want to see a film (they may want to relax before such a big night) especially undecided voters who have more important matters on their minds.

Flight (2012)Flight seems like a great film and worth seeing if you want to form complete Oscar predictions. There have been ads everywhere and if the film expands it’s theater count the advertising will have been worth it. Flight may even become one of Washington’s and Zemecks’ best loved movies. The Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus is “Robert Zemeckis makes a triumphant return to live-action cinema with Flight, a thoughtful and provocative character study propelled by a compelling performance from Denzel Washington.” Reviews are saying the film is great and it looks like an edge of your seat thrilling, suspenseful drama. Flight is a film full of surprises, it seems. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Watch the trailer and a clip from Flight here. Comment about the 139 minute R rated dram below. Will you see it? Not interested? What are your box office and Oscar predictions for the film? What do you think about Zemeckis and Washington’s other work? Tell us in the comments section

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