George Clooney spends a lot of his free time in airports in the upcoming Up in the Air. We spend a lot of our time thinking about plane movies. That's right, plane movies. We got 'em. Please ensure your seat belts are fastened as we prepare for takeoff.
Air Force One
Up until the passengers get rescued, this is a pretty solid movie. But man, the cheese level skyrockets in the last half hour. They might as well have poured a microwaved jar of Tostitos Queso Dip all over the final reel. Still, it's a damn fine plane movie for what its worth.
I've seen this movie more times than any other movie on this list times 10. My wife actually asked me the other day if we should buy it, because it was really cheap in one of those Black Friday sale thingies. I didn't see the need. I would never pop it in. It's too ingrained in me. I can just play it in my head whenever I want. I mumble lines from the movie without even thinking on a weekly basis. It's like Michael Scott and "That's what she said." I don't even realize I'm doing it half the time. Sad, but true.
How can I not mention Airport, the multi-storied disaster box office smash that may have started them all. If not for Airport, we would not have had 2012, and then where would we be?
When this movie debuted, it easily had the most frightening and realistic airplane crash I'd seen. Just brutal. For most of the film, however, the film really acts as an abode for its stranded victims. As a bonus, it made for a solid graveyard memorial.
Here is a movie covered in airplanes. It has airplanes coming out of its ears, its nose, and other orifices we shan't name. Martin Scorsese's film is an exciting account of a man who loved him some airplanes. He shot them in the sky with a camera, crashed an XF-11 in Beverly Hills, and built the largest sucker to ever grace the skies (at the time).
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
It takes place at an airport and that's good enough for me! The movie also makes a pretty creative use of pilot ejection seats -- although I never understood why William Sadler and his pals don't gun down McClane when his parachute slowly glides to the ground, or at least use the jeeps (that they're sitting in as they watch him slowly fall) to drive to the part of the landing strip McClane lands on and unload an ungodly amount of cartridges into him. Would have made more sense, no? And since we're on the subject, did I need to see William Sadler doing yoga in his living room naked? No, no I didn't. Also, why did he make that stupid move turning around with the remote control like he was shooting the TV. Was it because Michael Kamen's music said so? I need another beer.
No, not the Jet Li martial arts epic. This is a long-forgotten Peter Weir movie that stars Jeff Bridges as a man who survived a plane crash and now spends his time trying to cheat death. OK, now I'm going to blow your mind: Rosie Perez was nominated Best Supporting Actress for this movie. Ladies and gentlemen, the '90s.
Flight of the Phoenix
I haven't seen this in eons, but it's a classic and I remember digging it mucho as a kid. Now, I could have considered the mediocre 2004 remake for this list as well. The same way I could have considered drinking battery acid this morning.
I'm not sure how good a movie this is, but I remember liking it a good deal as a kid. I really wanted to put it on the list because it harks back to an ancient world. It's the same world where Rosie Perez is an Oscar nominee and Matthew Modine is a leading man. These things happened. And we should never forget them. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Beyond classic for good, bad, and ugly reasons. The plot is paper thin. The characters are about as dimensional as the funny papers. But it’s a defining pocket of '80s propaganda, with some lotioned-up beach volleyball and some cool flight sequences.
Twelve O'Clock High
This superior World War II entry landed Gregory Peck an Oscar nomination. According to IMDb.com, the studio demanded the romantic subplot from the book be dropped (and it was) because they wanted to ensure the real story of leadership and the psychological effects of war were the prime focus. It was a different time, friends. Also, note this film should not be confused with the 1980s teen comedy, Three O'Clock High starring Casey Siemaszko and Richard Tyson.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dre writes for Film.com weekly. Email him!