Robert Zemeckis has built his reputation on the inventive exploration of the medium’s technological potential. Nearly every film he has directed since the mid-’80s—including the Back to the Future trilogy, Forrest Gump, Contact, and his recent trio of motion capture films—has derived much of its impact from the groundbreaking use of special effects. With Flight, Zemeckis returns to the smaller scale of his early work, but as you might expect, special effects play an important role in the film’s most striking sequence. Opening with arguably the most memorable plane crash in movie industry, Flight loses its bearings in the aftermath of this crash. A character study about a surprisingly stereotypical, one-dimensional alcoholic, the film devotes far too much of its running time to tedious depictions of its protagonist’s personal struggles. (Two scenes involving his son are particularly embarrassing.) The legal maneuverings depicted onscreen are significantly more engrossing and ethically fraught, but even this aspect of the film culminates in a series of wildly unconvincing developments.
One of the virtues of this film is Zemeckis’ polished visual approach, which comes through impressively on this Blu-ray. Unfortunately, extras on this disc are somewhat disappointing. While Zemeckis has recorded commentaries for many of his films in the past, he abstains on this disc. Extras are limited to 30 minutes of featurettes (Origins of Flight, The Making of Flight, Anatomy of a Plane Crash) and 8 minutes of excerpts from a cast and crew Q&A. All of this material is interesting, but most of it should be familiar to anyone who read about the film when it was released last November.