Airborne (UK - DVD R2)
Mark Hamill strikes back as an air traffic controller who's plane is acting strange.
A storm is on the way. Atlantic Flight 686 takes off. It's passengers: A mixed bag, including soldiers, gangsters and a man transporting an ancient vase. On the ground, a flight controller watches as the last flight before his retirement disappears off of the radar. What is happening on that plane? Who knows but it's messy.
Airborne is a low budget horror that feels like a Scooby Doo episode with a 15 certificate as opposed to the Twilight Zone homage vibe it's going for. It's filled with British TV cast from Hollyoaks (Gemma Atkinson), Eastenders (Raji James & Billy Murray) and This is England (Andrew Shim). There's Alan Ford doing his full on Snatch aggressive boss thing. Then there's Julian Glover, who sits patiently at the back until the plot needs revealing in a really on again off again accent. Oh, and Mark Hamill is the air traffic controller, set for retirement.
The set up here feels contrived from the get go, given the spooky atmosphere and the "What's in the crate" moment as it's loaded onto the plane but the premise of a late night flight dotted with strangers is sound enough to hold a viewers interest for the most part. Of course once the madness kicks in the whole thing stops being quite as fun. Cast members do silly things, spewing silly dialogue and the growth of aggresive overreactions become a mixture of less and less believable curve balls.
The acting is never great but it just gets more and more ropey as the blood start to flow and characters lose their minds. The officers takings control of the flight control room are particularly bad and those moments before a character is killed off are always laughable. Some of the cast are having fun with it, Gemma Atkinson showed way more in joke acting smarts than I would ever have given her credit for and Mark Hamill knows exactly what his part is here and he plays it well. Unfortunately none of it gels together all that successfully and the whole film ends up being laughably bad. Not totally awful bad as there's a certain glint of something likable here but given the cast, you'd expect a final product to be more than a low budget film that just about rises above the crowd of straight to DVD silliness.
Digitally shot, the image has a clean look to it and the low budget is hidden well within the small cast on a late night plane plot. The budget is also disguised with some fairly good shots of the plane in flight which are usually the elements that let something small like this down. They are by no means perfect but they don't all look like animatics as is sometimes the case with small movies like this. There's also a handful of shots that are well lit and way more filmic than this sort of thing usually serves up. Skin tones are rosy and warm and the entire look of the film has a creamy colouring to it. Edges are sharp with good enough detail for standard definition but deep blacks suffer offering up murky dark blues for the most part.
The opening scene has News reports dot around all the speakers speakers, front and rear. The suspenseful score begins in the fronts but as things get more intense they slowly build and reach out to the rears. There's the odd spike within the more shocking parts of very generic score but it's pretty basic for the most part.
Dialogue is consistently clear and ranges between whispers and stronger deliveries. The sounds of the plane in distress also sit fairly well within the mix but can't think of a single time that it ever felt real. Somehow the sound effects feel independent to the visuals and it doesn't matter how much of an angle you put the camera at, if the sound effects feel disconnected the scene still feels fake.
Only the trailer here sadly. I wanted more. I wanted to know how they got the cast. That alone was worth a featurette.
I can't think of a film I've seen recently that had such a mixed bag of actors in it. It's like director Dominic Burns hand picked faces from tons of different genres and plonked them in his movie without ever really taking advantage of what he had. Airborne is sort of silly fun really. Inoffensive enough but utterly forgettable. The disc is bare bones and pretty basic video and audio wise, so this one is probably only worth a rental with a group of very drunk friends.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 30th July 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Stereo 2.0 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Dominic Burns
Cast: Mark Hamill, Craig Conway, Billy Murray, Sebastian Street, Simon Phillips, Julian Glover, Gemma Atkinson, Alan Ford,
Genre: Horror and Mystery
Length: 77 minutes
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