"The Weekend Rent" offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Fridays.
Hollywood has long exploited our collective fear of air disasters to great effect on-screen, and that grand tradition continues this week with the opening of Robert Zemeckis' Flight in theaters. The movie follows awesomely named airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington), who expertly pilots an incredible emergency landing in which 96 out of 102 people onboard survive. There's one problem… he is a functioning alcoholic and was drunk at the time, and the ensuing investigation could send him to jail for the rest of his life.
If having a drunk pilot doesn't make you want to forget about booking your next trip to Bali, neither will any of the following films that we guarantee will never be on any airline's in-flight entertainment hotlist. The best place to start is 1970's Airport, which features Burt Lancaster as a frazzled Chicago airport manager trying to keep his airport open during a snowstorm while a jet on which a terrorist's bomb exploded attempts to make an emergency landing while another plane is stranded on the runway. If that doesn't make you think twice about your next flight, you can always check out the sequels: Airport 1975, Airport '77 and The Concorde… Airport '79.
It was inevitable that someone would subvert the stone-cold seriousness of the Airport series and explore the lighter side of air disasters—if there is such a thing—and Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers did exactly that with 1980's hilarious Airplane! Robert Hays stars as taxi driver with an acute fear of flying after his experience as a war pilot who is tasked with trying to land a commercial jet on which anyone who ate the fish is deathly ill. Hilarity ensues—and continues in the follow-up, Airplane II: The Sequel—but both will still make you question your travel plans.
Still perusing Priceline for that steal of a deal? Have you forgotten Cast Away, in which Tom Hanks survives a plane crash and then develops a deep relationship with a volleyball on a deserted island? How about Liam Neeson in The Grey—a man who lives through a plane crash in the remote Alaskan wilderness only to face a pack of hungry wolves with his fellow survivors? And unless you have Samuel L. Jackson onboard to get those motherf--king snakes off the motherf--king plane, we can't imagine that Snakes on a Plane instills much confidence in air travel.
If you want something a tad more realistic, there is always Alive, which depicts the real-life story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crash-lands in the Andes—forcing the survivors to resort to cannibalism to survive. Not real enough for you? You can't top the harrowing United 93, Paul Greengrass' real-time account of the doomed 9/11 flight that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania as the passengers fought back against the terrorists onboard.
This brings us to the ultimate flight-deterrent flick, 2000's Final Destination. The supernatural horror film follows a group of high school students that board Flight 180 to Paris for a school trip. One of them, Devon Sawa, starts noticing alarming signs like hearing John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" being played—a singer who, of course, died in a plane crash. Sawa falls asleep before takeoff and vividly sees the plane exploding in the air and his classmates being sucked out of the fuselage. He wakes up, understandably freaks out, and gets off the plane along with a few other students panicked by his reaction. The plane takes off and explodes after takeoff just as Sawa predicted, but since they've all cheated death, Death with a capital D slowly starts to pick them off one by one in what looks like bizarre accidents. If this movie and the recent Final Destination 5 that circles back to the events in the first film don't make you skittish about flying, then fasten your seatbelts, sit back and enjoy the show either at home or in theaters with Flight.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD, Blu-ray and/or various VOD services. Flight opens in theaters everywhere on November 2.