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Touchstone Home Video presents
Flightplan (2005)

"Have you seen my daughter?"
- Kyle (Jodie Foster)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 24, 2006

Stars: Jodie Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sean Bean, Kate Beahan
Other Stars: Marlene Lawston, Michael Irby, Assaf Cohen, Erika Christensen, Shane Edelman, Mary Gallagher
Director: Robert Schwentke

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and some intense plot material
Run Time: 01h:37m:58s
Release Date: January 24, 2006
UPC: 786936270532
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Jodie Foster has the unique ability to generate raw emotion and believability within even the most outlandish circumstance. In David Fincher's Panic Room, she faced off with Forrest Whittaker's criminal trio who aimed to grab a lucrative score from her home. The personal complications of protecting her character's sick daughter while trapped inside the panic room seemed totally natural due to Foster's impressive performance. This talent appears constantly in Flightplan, a fairly exciting thriller that places her character into a highly unlikely scenario aboard a transatlantic flight. The story plods along a bit more this time and lacks Fincher's creativity, which challenges Foster even more to carry a possibly ridiculous plot and make it interesting.

Foster star as Kyle, a grieving widow returning to New York after living in Berlin. Traveling along is her young daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston), a surprisingly sad girl with a tendency to wander off inside airports. After some brief introductions, they board a gigantic plane larger than any 747 currently in existence. Kyle worked on the engineering side of the aircraft, so she has extensive knowledge of the layout. Everything appears normal, as the usual group of clichéd passengers board the plane. It does seem odd that no German passengers are aboard, but I guess no one in Berlin wants to travel to America. Offering a large bar, an extremely spacious first class, and televisions on each seat, the Aalto E-474 is the plane I want to take on long trips. Spotting some seats in the back, Kyle decides to stretch out and sleep. That is not a wise choice, as Julia is missing when she returns. On regular-sized planes, this would be only a minor issue, but the E-474 is not a normal aircraft, and it could be difficult to locate the young girl.

Events become even stranger when the child's name does not appear on the flight manifest, which calls into question whether she actually boarded the plane. More importantly, has Kyle lost her sanity? The evidence appears to point in this direction, and while Captain Rich (Sean Bean) tries to assuage her fears, the news keeps getting worse. Kyle receives assistance from fellow passenger Carson (Peter Sarsgaard), but he can only do so much to calm her down. As the plane moves closer to its final destination, our suspicions continue to grow about Julia's location. The pace builds slowly and could send home viewers to the kitchen, but this deliberate tone does payoff relatively well in the end.

German Director Peter Schwentke is far from a household name in Hollywood, so his role in such a major Hollywood production is a surprise. However, he takes his time and allows the story to develop without unnecessary manipulation. The film lasts only slightly longer than 90 minutes, and wraps up without a lengthy final action sequence. The unfortunate aspect of the shorter running time is the ultimate feeling of only middling satisfaction once the twists are revealed. Schwentke keeps us interested during the journey, but fails to craft a product that warrants repeated viewings. The finished plot makes sense in theory, but it also raises additional questions that could have been resolved better with a few extra minutes in the end.

Flightplan's story improves considerably due to the stellar work from Jodie Foster, who makes Kyle's fragile emotional state understandable. Although her choice of parts could be better in recent years, the strong actress continues to put her heart into every role. When the room literally spins around her during a frightening moment, Foster sells the possibility that her character's lost her way completely. While we suspect that something more sinister is happening, doubt appears due to the intriguing performance. Without Foster, this film would become a mid-level B movie and would not attract the same attention. Her involvement brings legitimacy to the project and helps it to mostly avoid the typical conventions of the thriller genre.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This disc offers an excellent 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that transforms the possibly dull airline interiors into an interesting setting. The scenes often occur in dark settings, but they lack the grain that could appear with the colors displayed. The cool, blue colors of the gigantic plane sparkle on the home screen and contain few noticeable defects, which leads to an engaging presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Flightplan is the type of thriller that requires a complex audio transfer, and this release offers two excellent tracks that heighten the tension considerably. The DTS option is very powerful and utilizes the entire sound field to sell the story. It is slightly more complex than the 5.1 Dolby Digital offering, but both tracks perform effectively. They keep us on our toes and place you directly inside the massive airplane to share the experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Anapolis, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Proof, Lost: Season 2, Shadows in the Sun, The Greatest Game Ever Played, TV on DVD
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Robert Schentke
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Flightplan includes an adequate collection of extras, which include a commentary track and several notable featurettes. Each supplement is described in the following sections:

This film may not generate deep intellectual discussions, but considerable skill was required to shoot it aboard the involved sets of the large plane. Director Robert Scwhentke provides a dry, informative commentary that includes plenty of material for the movie's fans. Casual viewers will probably want to skip it, but film buffs will enjoy the details offered. Schwentke discusses a wide array of topics, including the changes to the script required after September 11th, the editing decisions, and the techniques utilized to sell the story.

The In-Flight Movie: The Making of Flightplan
Divided into five short sections, this 38-minute documentary covers all of the basic elements of the production. Security Checkpoint: Story of a Thriller discusses the genesis of the screenplay through comments by the writers and producer Brian Grazer. The original emphasis focused on terrorists, and it eventually shifted more towards the female lead character. Captain's Greeting: Meet the Director introduces us to Schwentke, who describes his numerous responsibilities. Behind-the scenes footage shows him working hard, and other crew members offer praise. Passenger Manifest: Casting the Film presents the small group of actors that play the film's key parts. Schwentke wanted to use "naturalistic" actors to keep the events from going way over the top.

The final two segments cover the production aspects, which involved some difficult work from the production design and effects people. Connection Flights: Post Production covers the film's pace with Editor Thom Noble and Schwentke, who realize that the momentum must build slowly to keep the audience engaged. We also learn details about the sound design and music, which is essential to the thriller genre. Emergency Landing: Visual Effects depicts the wide array of CG effects and miniatures needed to generate the final product.

Cabin Pressure: Designing the Aalto E-474
The stunning Aalto E-474 is the type of plane I'd love to fly on, especially in first class. Building it was not such a leisurely task, though, and the creation process is presented in this ten-minute featurette. Production designer Chris Hammond and other crew members present the storyboards and models and discuss the specific decisions that were made during the construction.

Sneak Peeks
This release includes an impressive collection of trailers, though some of the films will not be making my wish list. The previews appear for Annapolis, Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Proof, Lost: Season 2, Shadows in the Sun, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and the "TV on DVD" commercial.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Flightplan offers an engaging story and should keep your attention during the short running time. The mystery remains until the final act and is helped considerably by Jodie Foster's performance. A lesser actor in the lead role would have lessened the film into conventional thriller territory. Supported by strong audio and visual transfers, this release is worth a viewing for an entertaining ride.


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