Film: Altitude */***
Release Date: 14th March 2011
Certificate: 15Running Time: 86 mins
Director: Kaare Andrews
Starring: Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Guill, Ryan Donowho, Landon Liboiron, Jake Weary, Mike Dopud
Reviewers: Adam Wing/Daryl Wing
Five teenage friends, including rookie pilot Sara (Jessica Lowndes of 90210), rent a small plane for a weekend getaway. Shortly after take-off events go horribly wrong. Instruments on the plane begin to malfunction causing it to climb higher and higher, leading them into a threatening storm cloud just as the fuel starts running out. All in all, not the perfect start to a relaxing getaway. Best not mention the flying octopus, then...
He said: Modern horror movies aren’t exactly known for well-written sympathetic characters, but with Altitude, writer Paul A. Birkett has created three of the most irritating teenagers in the history of screenwriting. Perhaps I’m being unkind to the guys on this one, but even by today’s standards, it’s rare for central characters to act so dumb. Common sense, rationalisation and resourcefulness are left behind on the runway as our three leads bicker, argue and fight their way through sixty minutes of tedium and despair.
She said: He's being unkind. Sal (played by Jake Weary) easily redeems himself in the latter stages of the movie, as does Bruce (Landon Liboiron), mainly down to the pleasing twist just before the final act. Besides, our main protagonist, Sara (90210's Jessica Lowndes) is one of the hottest female leads in many a while, and regardless of her so-called buddies, she makes this film worthy of your attention. Unless you're a girl, because all the boys are rubbish. They're all quite good looking though, so that's something.
He said: The leading lady looks hot.
She said: Indeed.
He said: Common sense, rationalisation and resourcefulness are left behind on the runway as our three leads bicker, argue and fight their way through sixty minutes of tedium and despair.
She said: Who hasn't laughed at the drunken squabblings of teenagers? Who hasn't participated (even if it was a while back) in drunken squabblings? Director Kaare Andrews is clearly more intune with the younger voice than some, besides, the opening act offers some decent humour, intentional as well as not.
He said: Bruce is the most underwritten character in the entire movie, and as things turn out, pretty much the most important one too.
She said: This much is true, but when all is said and done, you'll almost forgive the guy for being such a lame-ass. Trust me...
He said: The five characters spend the majority of the first hour arguing about their predicament, rather than doing anything constructive about it.
She said: They're in a plane and only one person knows how to fly it (sort of). Not even B A Baracus could guide them out of this mess.
He said: And boy, do they have plenty to argue about – in fact it’s any wonder they became friends in the first place. Bruce collects comic books and clings hold of a tragic past, that’s pretty much all we get to know about him until the final act. He’s resentful of Sara’s desire to start over, and it soon becomes clear that she has no intention of continuing their relationship once she’s gone, which kind of makes you wonder why she invited him along?
She said: This much is true, although conflict is good, and Altitude does have a decent love triangle going on.
He said: Even before the movie takes an almighty leap of faith, the spectacularly dumb script suffers from an ample amount of turbulence. One early scene finds Cory abseiling the outside of the plane in order to resume control. He’s hanging from a rope in the middle of a storm, 12000 feet in the air, and still refuses to take the plane's one and only parachute because “I’ve been free climbing since I was twelve and it will only slow me down.” Of course it will Cory, but then again, isn’t there also the chance that it might save your life? Stupidity has never run so deep. Having said that, this is by far the most enjoyable scene in the movie.
She said: This is the most enjoyable scene in the movie, other than the entire final act. My favourite line comes from Sara though, just after the plane goes tits up, daring to utter, "Maybe I missed something during the pre-flight, I don't know!"
He said: A preposterous tale about five teenagers trapped on a rising plane becomes a monstrous fantasy ripped from the pages of a comic book. The final act is ridiculous beyond words, but after the teen angst and petty disputes that come before it, you really will feel a welcome sense of release.
She said: Shit the bed, this conflict-driven teen drama has suddenly transmogrified into one hell of a ride with one of the best twists since Unbreakable.
He said: It’s a shame that the climatic twist feels so forced, pointlessly tacked on to inspire debate, without any sense of closure, common sense or reasoning. Then again, we are talking about a movie in which a plane is attacked by a giant flying squid - so perhaps it’s best if we let that slide for now.
She said: Let it slide? This is brilliant. I was quietly satisfied beforehand, even if I had already seen the trailer and its money shot, which had yet to arrive, but I certainly wasn't expecting such a cracking turn of events - and it gets even better still, daring to go further than you could imagine. Wow, this rivals Spielberg (see Always).
He said: I’m a big fan of big dumb horror movies, more than willing to ignore the implausibility of the plot and go along for the ride. Had Kaare Andrews and Paul A. Birkett put more emphasis on their Twilight Zone style turn, Altitude could’ve made for light, breezy escapism. Instead they choose to saddle the film with whiny teenagers, lacklustre pacing and one twist too far. Like a greasy burger from a motorway café, Altitude seems like a good idea at the time, but the burning sensation in the pit of your stomach suggests that you’ll think twice before eating there again.
She said: His first sentance is all that matters. It's big, dumb, and in the end, cleverer than it ever ought to be.