Snippet Reviews: ‘Flight’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’

For someone who has a tremendous fear of flying, I can say that the opening act of Robert Zemeckis’ Flight is one of the most terrifying film experiences I’ve had in years, as Denzel Washington flies a malfunctioning plane completely inverted in an attempt to save the lives on board his craft. From here, the film becomes less of a story about the survival of a plane crash and the legal proceedings that follow, and more of a story about a man trying to survive his own personal crash landing as he deals with inner demons in the same vein as Leaving Las Vegas or Days of Wine and Roses before it. Denzel plays Whip Whitaker, a charming and brilliant pilot afflicted by alcoholism, and does so with the usual casual grace and tender ease we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the two-time Oscar winner. Flight is a capable film about hitting rock bottom, coming to terms with that bottom, and finding a way towards recovery and salvation. Sure, this is something we have seen before, but few times have we seen it carried by such a strong and magnetic performance as we do this time around from one of this generation’s finest actors. (***)

Disney’s most nostalgic film in recent memory, Wreck-It Ralph, brings the arcade universe to life, as characters from days of old (Pac-Man, Sonic, Q*bert, etc.) intermingle with more highly pixellated characters from present day games each night when their arcade shuts down. Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by the great John C. Reilly) is a good guy who has grown tired of playing the under-appreciated villain day after day, and goes off on his own to prove that he, too, can be a hero. Creating unintentional havoc along the way, Ralph eventually stumbles into Sugar Rush, a racing game that takes place in a land of peppermint forests and other candy coated landscapes, where he meets Vanellope (voiced in a lovable childish performance by Sarah Silverman), an outcast who is deemed to be the glitch in her game. The two conspire to defy the limits of their coding, and develop a genuine and heartfelt friendship along the way. While Wreck-It Ralph may not live up to other all-star vehicles like Toy Story or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Disney still has a solid winner on their hands that is sure to touch all ages, regardless if you grew up on Atari or X-Box. (***)

Here is a second Snippet Review for Flight, written by Nicole Melkonian

After more than a decade away from live action film, there were admittedly some doubts surrounding Robert Zemeckis’ ability to tell a good story with real characters.  Needless to say, the man has still got a knack for developing intimate connections with the objects of his narratives.  Denzel Washington, in all his non-animated glory, steers this volatile character study to a safe landing despite some visceral physical and emotional turbulence.  And boy, does John Goodman know how to make an entrance and make the most of his limited minutes! Don Cheadle and Kelly Reilly support the cast solidly.  Not to be overlooked are the remarkable effects of the plummeting plane, which make you feel like you’re in a flight simulator without the benefit of 3D – a huge feat in itself.  Between Cast Away and now with Flight, let’s just say, if you ever need a plane crash simulated on film, Zemeckis is your man. (***½)