PictureNarrowly presented in 1080p 2.35:1 VC-1 encoded, Flightplan is an effective and reasonable transfer to disc. Often scenes will be filtered of swathed in bold primary colours, green being the obvious springing to mind. Like some scenes out of The Matrix whole areas are covered in this green hue. The colour saturation holds well and no blocking can be seen during these moments.
Other hues on offer are predominately blues and greys for the inner beast of the aircraft. Like the green they are presented well, solid and always delineated. Facial tones are spot on, no one with no one appearing to be overly pale or too red in nature.
Dark scenes in Flightplan are abundant. These add to the suspense in the film itself but they always offer up excellent shadow detail and contrast, although not as deep as I would have liked they tend to be very dark grey in nature. Whether this was something to do with the extensive filtering on offer throughout the film I honestly cannot say. Some whites are intentionally blown out during the start of the film, reflecting Kyle's dreamlike trance at the time. These are then toned down and are pristine when on offer during the lighter scenes within the plane itself.
On the whole Flightplan is a more than adequate detailed transfer. There are better ones out there but there's also a lot worse.
SoundThis is where Flightplan takes off. Two English tracks are on offer, PCM and Dolby Digital Plus. This review mainly covers the PCM track. It's scintillating; from the opening scenes rarely are the surrounds not in use. The centre is used to great effect presenting the crisp dialogue with never a word missed under the roar of engines or the constant hum of background noise. The front stage is wide and structured, panning dialogue and effects as required. The score by James Horner flows well from the two fronts if a little subdued at times.
It is in the effects though that the mix really comes alive. Confined to a tight space you will always be able to hear what is going on and the mix offers this to us superbly. Always there in the background the surrounds are never overpowering but you always know there something to be listened. Engine noises, panic as oxygen masks fall, car effects, general chatter and more are all on offer. Steerage as necessary between the surrounds and fronts more than adequate.
As I mentioned, these effect placements are never distracting but they do add to the closed in feel the film wants to project. LFE is in use with the roar of the engines kicking in. I'm not a good flyer; in fact I detest it and avoid it at all costs. When the plane takes off at the start of the film your sub explodes into life, the rattles and groans associated with a normal take off envelop the listener from the fronts and surrounds. Sitting in my cosy armchair I actually felt a little nervous, the same feeling I have when thundering along the tarmac runway. The use sound to this degree took me right into the frame. The sound mix compliments and enhances Flightplan perfectly.
I compared certain scenes with the PCM track and the Dolby Digital one. There's no doubt about this, the PCM track wins hands down. Not only are the levels a little higher (but then that's never too much a problem), but also some of the fine detail is completely lost within the standard Dolby mix. LFE with the PCM track rumbles my room, the DD track only shakes it a little. Although all the main focus is still there for dialogue and score where the PCM is defined in the surrounds the Dolby Digital is, not muffled per se but, just not as crisp. Definitely take advantage of the PCM if you can.
ExtrasThe US edition of this BluRay release had a commentary and an additional feature to view. Unfortunately the UK edition is hard done by a little with only a featurette, a short film and the showcase.
- Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalto E-474
Without a doubt the aircraft on which all of the action takes place is a 'character' in itself in this movie. This small feature show us how the filming in such a tight space took place. From the initial design and construction we are shown the plane come to life. Additional guides are installed for the cameras to hang from; whole sides which hinge upwards so as to film from the 'outside' and the products which are proudly displayed to give it that authentic look. A good insight into what it takes to put together a really good set.
- Jet Stream - Louie Schwartzberg
A short totally meaningless film by Schwartzberg. One you might watch once, but even then it's pushing it.
Easy access to 3 scenes which are supposed to show off the joys of BluRay high definition. Is this really an extra? I've said it before, no!
I find it odd that even now a UK and US release can be so dramatically different in the extras department. Not only do we loose the documentary, special effects and the landing scene in particular featurette but we have no directors commentary where we could have seen if he was trying to do something more with Flightplan than actually comes across. A pity.
VerdictFlightplan is not for all. Some will gladly be enthralled and on the edge of their seat for the majority of the feature. For me though the plot holes finally broke this camel's back. One or two I can accept and look over. A whole hanger full I cannot forgive, this just has far too many.
An interesting plot, with the sub plot that Kyle didn't in fact have her daughter with her but it was all imagined. Could have been a superb grounding for a restrictive, claustrophobic thriller. Ultimately though it fails to reach altitude and that in itself is more than a little disappointing. A good enough cast, some nice clever filming and a stonking sound mix cannot save Flightplan into a spiralling nose dive. The fact that this UK release restricts the viewer to the number of extras is truly baffling and these days, inexcusable.
Ultimately a reworking of the Hitchcock "The Lady Vanishes" but comes nowhere near the mantle which that great director set for others. Certainly give this one a watch but realise in the end that it's not only a shadow of what it could have been but also it pales into insignificance in the light of other greater works.
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- Cabin Pressure: Designing The Aalto E-474