This weekend, the big theatrical release is "Plane," starring Gerard Butler and Mike Colter. Then available On Demand is the new documentary "My Father Muhammad Ali."
Read on for reviews of both new films!
Not the sort of film you're going to want to watch as in-flight entertainment, "Plane" is a by-the-numbers, B-level action movie. Butler plays a commercial airline pilot who has one last flight to complete before joining his estranged daughter in Hawaii. The plane and it's small group of passengers (including a convicted murderer who is being transported by authorities, played by Mike Colter) hit bad weather, and are forced to make an emergency landed on some sort of uncharted island in the South Pacific.
The plane crash is the least of their problems. The island is inhabited by lawless mercenaries, led by the brutal Junmar (Evan Dane Taylor). The survivors, led by their fearless captain, must find a way off of this island, before the bad guys find them.
Ironically, when the film is set within the plane itself, it's a pretty good, harrowing thriller. But once the plane is grounded - the entire middle of the movie - things sag quite a bit. Back at base camp, Hampton (Paul Ben-Victor) is the generic authority figure who calls in Scarsdale (Tony Goldwyn), who apparently is some sort of expert in finding lost planes. These two - like everyone else in the film - are so thinly-drawn, as to exist only for there to be tension with some of the decision making going on. Butler is as good as normal, meaning that he's a serviceable action hero, and the most interesting element of the film is his relationship with the convict passenger. Sadly, we never get any payoff or conclusion to this relationship.
"Plane" plays it safe, but also with its generic title, it's pretty clear that the movie isn't trying to fool anyone as to what it is. Fans of Butler will find it passable, even if most movie-goers will find it forgettable.
Genre: Action, Thriller.
Run Time: 1 hour 47 minutes.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Tony Goldwyn, Paul Ben-Victor, Mike Colter, Daniella Pineda, Joey Slotnick, Evan Dane Taylor.
Directed by Jean-Francois Richet ("The Emperor of Paris," "Blood Father," "One Wild Moment").
"Plane" is in theaters everywhere on Friday, January 13th, 2023.
"My Father Muhammad Ali: The Untold Story"
From the title on down, something just seems "off" about the new, mostly-exploitative-feeling documentary, "My Father Muhammad Ali: The Untold Story." First, you might imply from the title that this is a film about "The Greatest" heavyweight champion the world has ever known, perhaps told from a new perspective. However the movie isn't about The Champ at all, but instead is somewhat of a messy, shallow look at his biological son, Muhammad Ali Jr.
Ali Jr. does not come across as a compelling-enough subject for a film, despite his blood relation with Muhammad Ali, who passed away in 2016 at age 74. We can relate to Jr.'s struggles...how do you possibly live up to the fact that your dad is literally known as "The Greatest"? But besides a few passing anecdotes (like how his father once left him - accidentally - at a gas station on a road trip to Michigan), we learn nothing of interest about either man.
Is Ali Jr. a grifter of some sort? He and his "partner" have a weird friendship, and talk about doing some charitable work...but the film at different times flashes up graphics telling us that they never followed through. What's the point of telling us this? Are we supposed to be rooting for Jr.? Feeling sympathy? The film also tells us his own wife declined to take part in the film, as did anyone else of note from the Ali estate. The most fascinating part of the story - the fact that Jr. was left out of his father's will and no one seems to want to have anything to do with him - is mentioned but never investigated or looked at in any real way.
I admittedly didn't know what to think at the conclusion of this story, other than I felt like it had very little to do with what the title and the trailer suggest. If you want to get to know Muhammad Ali, this is not the doc for you, and if you want to know what it was like to be his son, well, this film doesn't really do much to help us understand that either.
Run Time: 1 hour 25 minutes.
Written and Directed by Tom DeNucci & Chad A. Verdi.
"My Father Muhammad Ali" is available On Demand as of Friday, January 13th, 2023.
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