Sunday, November 14, 2010

Altitude and Not Enough Lift-Off: A Movie Review

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*Here be spoilers.

Director: Kaare Andrews.

Writer: Paul A. Birkett.

This is graphic artist Kaare Andrew's first feature film and Altitude hardly gets off the ground. Anchor Bay is the main distributor behind this title and the DVD and Blu-Ray released Ocober 26th. The film puts five friends in a small, broken plane and the characters seem more irritable than most sixty year olds. The plane in the film is ever ascending, but the film seems to descend into character in-fighting, as if the film's story has lost a wing, until a semi-intriguing finale.

The plot involves a central destination for all the characters: a rock concert. The bully (Jake Weary), the charismatic pilot(Jessica Lowndes), the seat occupier (Julianna Guill), the quiet introvert (Landon Liboiron) and the freeclimber (Ryan Donowho) each have importance, but only a couple rise above horror film fodder. A mechanical problem and a giant flying tentacled octopus make flying at 25,000 feet a sure fire trip to the underworld. Enter a world of imagination and the end.

The reviews on this film have been quite average and for this being director Andrew's first film some leeway can definitely be given. Andrews seems to have gotten some of his influences directly from comics e.g. "Weird Tales" and characterizations from comic books do not always transition well to film. This is seen in the overly villainous Sal and the too sensitive Bruce. Yet, the film does have qualities to admire.

The darkness in lighting and the confinement of a small plane create an atmosphere of claustrophobia and tension. Marina Antunes of Quiet Earth notices the importance of the setting also: "it is immediately clear that Andrews and cinematographer Norm Li are going to take full advantage of the opportunity of the small spaces for close ups and the building of a claustrophobic environment." However, the constant infighting amongst the characters begins to drain.

You would think in the face of oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) and death that characters would be motivated to work together. Sadly, this is not the case as some work against others to ensure their demise. And the final frames add in a story involving the powers of the mind, but by now some viewers might be completely disinterested.

Altitude shows Andrews' potential for future releases, but like many of the Wright Brothers early projects, Altitude does not really get off the ground. This film will be enjoyed by some, while others will be less satisfied. Check this one out if you are looking for lighter fair, with little in the way of in-depth characterizations. As Altitude will quickly leave the airs of the watcher's mind.

Plot/story/subject: 6 (more of the imagination element could have been added in earlier).
Characters/believability: 6 (some good and some not so good acting).

Overall: 6 out of 10 (not a miss, but not a hit either).

A review of the film at Quiet Earth:

Altitude Reviewed at QE

The film's homepage:

Altitude's Official Website

The director Kaare Andrews has been interviewed here on 28DLA for this project:

Andrew's on 28DLA

The video-on-demand film is recommended over the DVD or Blu-Ray:

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