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Cinema/TV, Film Notes, News

Film review – Phoenix Forgotten

My notes on the science fiction film, released on DVD and digital HD on September 18th.

One of the most famous modern UFO stories involves an array of bright lights seen in the sky over Phoenix, Arizona, in 1997.  Here’s a found footage film which doesn’t really speculate on what the things were – the key initial is the U for ‘unidentified’ – but instead wraps up a half hour or so of Blair Witch imitation found footage with a contemporary documentary frame in which Sophie Bishop (Florence Hartigan) delves into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her brother Josh (Joel Spencer Roberts), student journo Ashley Foster (Chelsea Lopez) and tagalong guy Mark Abrams (Justin Matthews) as they hiked into the desert to investigate shortly after filming the phenomenon.  The entire frame is superfluous, with strands about the breakup of Sophie and parents’ marriage after Josh became a famous missing person and a vague air of conspiracy as politicians and military men aren’t helpful or advise on suppressing the key footage.  Dad (Clint Jordan) is still hung up on what might have happened but Mom (Cyd Strittmatter) seems just weary of the whole deal.  The core of the story is too familiar – the three kids get lost in the desert, sort of squabble over tensions within the gang, spot some Indian markings on rocks (including the ever-popular hand-prints also found in the Blair Witch house), see more ambiguous UFOs, get nosebleeds and lose hair and are finally scooped up into the sky by a glimpsed device that looks like a big gyroscope.  This bunch of kids aren’t very distinctive and their fate is all too familiar.  Written by T.S. Nowlin (of the Maze Runner films and high-paying gigs like the Pacific Rim sequel and Godzilla vs Kong) and director Justin Barber.  Produced, out of character, by Ridley Scott.

Here’s a trailer.

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