movie film review | chris tookey


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  Alive Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
5.40 /10
Ethan Hawke, Vincent Spano, Josh Hamilton
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Directed by: Frank Marshall
Written by: John Patrick Shanley

Released: 1993
Origin: US
Length: 126


In 1972, a Uruguayan aircraft carrying a rugby team , its friends and relatives crashes high in the Andes. 16 of the 45 passengers survive, by eating the dead.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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A gripping picture which puts you in the survivors' place and make you wonder what you would have done. Frank Marshall succeeds in avoiding disaster-movie cliches and treats the subject with humanity. The largely unknown actors, led by Ethan Hawke and Vincent Spano, shiver, bicker and perform heroics with great realism - though screenwriter John Patrick Shanley fails to make us care enough about the characters individually.
Alive echoes its title in accentuating the positive: this is a movie about teamwork, the triumph of the human spirit. Cannibalism becomes, in the end, a pragmatic decision. Though many survivors had moral reservations, no one appears to have starved to death as a matter of principle.
Director Frank Marshall is at his best with action sequences: there are two vertiginous and very literal cliff-hangers, and he uses the latest technology to stage one of the most terrifying plane crashes in history. Alive will never be an in-flight movie. He does, however, make a couple of mistakes: his topping and tailing of the film with actor John Malkovich looking back on the experience is an irrelevance which over-extends a film that is already long. And, in order to make room for Malkovich, Marshall rushes what should have been the climax, the final journey of two survivors into Chile. His use of smooth, weightless camera movement wrongly implies an easy journey. Inexplicably, he omits a scene which the audience has long anticipated: the moment when the survivors first see another human face. Reviews were favourable towards the action sequences, but generally lukewarm.

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