The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 138 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Melissa Leo
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Written by: John Gatins
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 5, 2013
Commercial airline pilot Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) miraculously lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe. But even as he's being hailed for his heroic efforts, questions arise as to who or what was really at fault.
Flight was Written by John Gatins, and tells the story of Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot who miraculously lands a crippled and plummeting airliner with 102 passengers/crew aboard. But despite his heroics, Whip soon comes under investigation by the NTSB and begins what may be an even more harrowing personal descent.
I purposefully read very little about this film going into this review. Other than a rather interesting discussion on the forum regarding the authenticity of the actions performed by Denzel Washington’s character with respect to the plane crash I knew what was revealed in the trailer. I have to say that this film really wasn’t what I was expecting in terms of the plot. Once you see the opening sequence none of what follows should come as a surprise. Flight isn’t so much about the plane crash as it is a character study based upon a concept derived from screenwriter John Gatlin’s 1999 experience while traveling on a plane sitting next to “deadheading” airline pilot. The film is a powerful human melodrama about circling the drain and what it takes to unmask the self-deprecating person within. Flight isn’t an uplifting or moving film as it speaks to personal anguish and the possibility of redemption but not until rock bottom draws upon the very depths of humanity which has spent long years in the dark.
Denzel Washington is one of the finest actors of his generation. I think we have become accustomed to seeing him portray characters of a certain ilk. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the adjustment I had to make the first time I saw “Training day”. Here I felt similarly about Whip Whitaker, a damaged, self- serving sociopath. As with Training Day Washington’s performance solidifies the character and anchors the film. Strong supporting turns by Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, John Goodman and Kelly Reilly lend credibility that enhances the thematic weight of the story.
Flight isn’t a perfect film in that it raises a few legitimate questions but doesn’t convincingly see all of its elements through to fruition. What I like about Flight is that it is a dramatically enriching film comprised of moments. A few examples would be The opening sequence, Kelly’s introduction, the hospital stairwell, the hotel room, and the hearing. Those moments don’t necessarily always correlate but each could easily stand on its own. So although not perfect, Flight succeeds based on the total sum of its parts which includes a terrific lead performance by Denzel Washington, spot on supporting roles and apt direction by Robert Zemeckis.
The rating is for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Flight comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 Mbps.
This is a great looking video presentation that has a clean, filmic appearance that falls just shy of the definitive delineation offered by the best high definition available on Blu-ray Disc. Images onscreen exhibit plenty of fine rendering and crisp definition that on occasion rises to higher levels especially during close ups which can be very revealing. Long range shots appear resolute with good dimensional depth and notable object detail. The geographic locations and vista views featured in the film look magnificent in high definition. Bright exterior segments are punchy with crisp dynamic whites and appreciable texture. Colors aren’t overly engaging as the palette is limited to sepia tones and drab secondary hues that don’t offer much to catch the eye. Rendering is excellent though and the balance is kept in proper focus which mates well with the films overall visual perspective. Fleshtones are tonally divergent and appear lifelike in depiction. Blacks are rich/dynamic and shadow detail is quite good which reveals plenty of visible delineation in dark backgrounds and low lighting. I didn’t detect any deleterious artifacts or other video related anomalies.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mix handles this predominantly front oriented soundtrack with uncompromising competence. While the bulk of the audio is reproduced by the front three channels the surrounds are used effectively to produce a rear sound field rich in immersive ambience. This isn’t an active soundtrack as dialogue and music play more of a central role but there are moments that require use of the entire surround platform for effect. When things kick (the plane failure/crash sequence) this mix has no trouble flexing its dynamic muscle or creating a natural and immersive listening environment. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Vocal reproduction is crystalline with discernible intonation and descriptive character. Alan Silvestri’s beautifully crafted music films the room and sounds incredibly smooth, airy and pleasing.
- (HD) Origins of Flight – 10 minute featurette
- (HD) The making of Flight – 11 minute production featurette
- (HD) Anatomy of a plane crash – 7 minute behind the scene look
- (HD) Q&A Highlights – 14 minutes with members of the cast/filmmakers
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Flight is a tough film to watch as it tackles difficult subject matter and pulls few punches doing so. I found myself drawn in by its character centric focus, powerful melodrama and superb lead performance by star Denzel Washington. It isn’t a perfect film but readily succeeds based upon the total sum of its parts. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video and a disappointingly limited but worthwhile supplemental offering that offers insights from the cast/filmmakers and a brief look behind the scenes. If you’re a Denzel Washington fan don’t miss Flight on Blu-ray.
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