Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fred Olen Ray-J: Turbulent Skies

Fred Olen Ray- Filmmaker.  You were expecting something sort of compliment there, right?  You must not know Ray then.  Fred is the kind of filmmaker that makes movies that you pay $3 for in CostCo.  Yeah, he's that kind of guy.  Today's film is Turbulent Skies, one of his more-recent efforts.  I saw the trailer for this film on another DVD months ago, but I hadn't seen it until recently.  That should really say something, right?  The film is a throwback to the 1970's Disaster films like Airport and The Concorde: Airport '79.  This film is not tongue in cheek however- it's totally serious.  There's one key difference between those films and this one...which I'll get into in the review.  I will mention that this has some good C-List talent on board.  Casper Van Dien is the lead, flanked by Brad Dourif.  Yeah, I guess Malcolm McDowell was busy.  The plot is essentially Stealth, but with none of the Action and about an Airliner instead of a Jet.  I guess that Ray couldn't afford the Black Thunder footage, so he improvised.  To find out what goes right and wrong in this odd film, read on...
The film begins charmingly with a plane crash.  The whole point is to set up the idea that Pilots make mistakes.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.
A multi-national company announces a super computer that can fly a plane.  Suck it, Google!

Oh and they plan to test this on a commercial flight.  Yeah, that wouldn't happen.  EVER.
The man behind the company is Brad Dourif.  My joke about Malcolm McDowell is appropriate, given that he's in the exact same role that Malcolm played in The Void.

Just like Malcolm, I'm legitimately surprised when he interacts with the Cast.  I'm 0 and 2 on that front.
I joked about him not buying the Black Thunder footage, but that doesn't mean that there's not still Stock Footage!
The computer running the plane- complete with random people and Van Dien's wife/lost love- acts up because...um, a virus.

Yeah, here's the problem: there's no villain.  No hacker.  No evil billionaire.  No terrorists.  Nothing.
 In place of that, random chance.  Take, for example, this scene in which a Co-Pilot tries to re-program the computer.  What stops him?  A random bolt of lighting, of course!

Maybe Thunderstorm wanted revenge!
Maybe the Black Thunder footage is in this film after all.  Get on this, IMDB!
Ripping plot points right out of Executive Decision, Van Dien- who's the only man who can fix...a computer- gets on board the plane via the refueling device.  No, really.
 With no actual enemies, he subdues the computer and manages to land the plane.  Oh and his wife- a rather homely Erika Eleniak- get back together.  The End.
So that was a movie.  Honestly, there's not much to say here.  It's a tongue-in-cheek premise...played seriously.  That can still be funny...but this isn't.  None of the Actors play it up for humor...nor are they good enough to really pull off the drama.  It basically ends up as a dull non-Thriller.  Seriously, where's the conflict?  The Airport films has Terrorists/Bombers in them.  The Turbulence films had a villain, some terrorist group and evil Satanists (respectively).  Hell, even 2001: A Space Odyssey has HAL acting 'evil.'  This film has the computer malfunctioning...just because.  I was expecting an explanation for this to set up some sort of evil hacker or a rival company.  There is none.  It's just 'Will he save the plane from this random chance accident?'  Of course, he will.  The only interesting thing here is the existence of this kid's Ultraman comic.  I want that!
Next up, I decided to review a film without actually reviewing...the film.  It will make sense- trust me.  Stay tuned...

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