BLU-RAY REVIEW: Altitude
Anchor Bay's latest horror feature takes to the skies and home video...
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Personally, I'm not afraid of flying. When I was in the US Marines, I flew almost weekly in helicopters, which are WAY more dangerous than planes. Even though I had a few close calls (including a time when the helo lost all hydraulic pressure!), on a wing and a prayer my platoon always made it back safe and sound and in one piece.
Such is not the luck for the passengers in Altitude, the latest direct-to-video horror thriller from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film's premise: five teenagers, one of whom is a licensed pilot, take a plane ride to see one of their favorite bands and, along the way, run into numerous, seemingly insignificant events which result in the plane ascending uncontrollably and the teenage pilot unable to either fly the plane or contact ground control.
First, I have to make a comment about the home video's box art; the film seems to be billed as a monster movie by including tentacles on the Blu-ray cover. While tentacles do indeed appear in the film, Altitude is not a monster movie.
In fact, Altitude isn't really a horror film either. In fact, it's hard to put a genre to the film as it's basically an 80+ minute episode of The Twilight Zone...which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It plays with viewers through numerous twists and turns, makes the cookie-cutter characters do crazy things, and then throws viewers for a loop with a twist ending that I thought was unexpected and brilliant.
Altitude has received quite a bit of criticism and for good reason; the writing is seemingly unoriginal, the cast overacts, and the characters aren't that enjoyable. In fact, the characters are the worst part of the film; and it's hard to have a good film with bad characters. I don't know if they're poorly written or poorly acted (or both), but Altitude's five main characters are a bit hard to watch.
However, that's not to say Altitude as a whole is not worth watching or enjoyable. In fact, I found just the opposite. I found the special effects to be amazing and, while I said the writing isn't very original, the story itself is pretty darn exciting. Now it takes a strong cast and solid writing to tell a good story in film form and Altitude misses the mark there, but it sure has its moments.
In fact, I found Altitude to be a much more enjoyable experiance the second time around. Yup, that's right, I sat through it twice just so I could wrap my head around the story's main concept and twist ending (which I found really intriguing). I have to admit, once through was a bit tough at times, but the second time through a few parts made more sense and, while the film still had its moments of terrible acting and dialogue, the premise seemed much more believable and better.
The Altitude Blu-ray includes a number of bonus features, including a audio commentary with director Kaare Andrews, who comments on everything from pitching the film and production inside a plane to the budget constraints and the CGI. A 40-minute, four-part featurette entitled "Altitude: Behind the Scenes gives fans a chance to look at how the film was made, the casting, the actors getting into part, the plane set, and more. A short 10 minute featurette entitled "Green Storm" gives viewers a chance to see how the effects of the storm were made. CGI fans will apprecaite this. Lastly, a concept gallery of production art is also included.
While Altitude misses the mark in several areas, I personally found it worth watching. In fact, I'd love to hear what others have to say about it as I think the concept is brilliant. So what if the script was sub-par and some of the actors overacted? (I said the same thing about actor Cary Elwes in Saw and that damn movie spawned like 7 sequels!)
Overall, Altitude takes off and, while there's a lot of turbulence, a hydraulic failure or two, and a lot of bumpy skies, there are a few amazing things to see and we still landed safe and sound.
Altitude is available on Blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley