Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Captain / 中国机长 - Movie Review

The Movie: The Captain / 中国机长

The Director: Andrew Lau Wai-Keung

The Cast: Hanyu Zhang, Jiang Du, Qin Li,

The Story: When the windshield of his commercial airplane shatters at 30,000 feet in the air, a pilot and his flight crew work to ensure the safety of the passengers and land the plane.

The Review:
The Captain follows a strong lineage of Chinese film productions that are designed for extreme entertainment value as well as providing a strong sense of pride in the men and women of China including recent blockbusters like Operation: Red Sea and Operation: Mekong. All of these films are ultra glossy, high end productions that have proud heroism embedded throughout their DNA and, the thing is, they're all really good movies even if they are a bit formulaic. They're kind of like Michael Bay movies that actually tell a good, quality story. Yes, that's a compliment.

This movie is based off of real events although I'm sure a lot of elements are highly dramatized or changed to fit the film narrative, which is fine. It all works really well in telling a story of real life actions and decision making that led to saving lives. A lot of them. I liked that the cast was really up to the task in presenting glossy, heroic performances that fit the story telling style and especially Hanyu Zhang who plays the pilot and also has significant roles in the other two film I mentioned. He definitely has that hero persona and presents his character with a calm confidence that is nearly unshakable.

The special effects in the movie are really well done and this is mostly where my Michael Bay comparison comes from. There are some shots of the jet flying through a storm that are just stunning to watch and I'd say beautiful if it wasn't for the intensity and danger involved in those moments. There are also a few effects shots inside the plane that are equally as impressive and provide a few of the more shocking moments of the movie. The cinematography throughout is very glossy and keeps each character looking like strong, confident people who are ready to handle anything put in their way.

One thing I will say is that the Civil Aviation Administration of China, a government agency which formerly owned a monopoly on air travel in China, at least partially financed the movie so I'm sure every effort was made to put the story in the best light possible. Again, nothing wrong with that, just thought I'd put it out there. Ultimately the story of Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8633 is something to be proud of and the people involved in landing the plane and taking care of the passengers deserve to be treated like and looked at as heroes.

The Verdict:
The Captain is a high flying experience that will have you buckling in for safety as it carries you through an intense storm of dramatic maneuvering and blatant displays of heroism.

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