Was "Final Descent" the worst airplane movie ever?

To indulge Johnny’s wishes here, I’d like to offer my candidate for Worst Airplane Movie Ever Made (and hoo-boy, is there competition). Yes, folks, it’s evidence that Robert Urich had mortgage payments to make even during his cancer treatments, which bloated his face to near unrecognizability. Yes, it’s Final Descent (1997). The only movie I’ve forced myself to watch that made me scream continuously “That is fucking NOT how that works! Aw, geez, they’re not actually gonna do that - aw shit, yes they are”.

Urich is, of course, an airline captain, and of course the copilot is his former girlfriend. Already you know what happens in the final scene and they haven’t even taken off. But once they do, they just happen to collide with a private plane that just happens to force the elevators full up and just happens to force the plane to climb to some godawful altitude. Apparently the collision also jams the throttles at full power so they can’t just trim for slow flight? It must have done that as well as jam all the fuel valves open so they can’t shut down even one engine, and it must also have shut off the bleed air, because there’s a lot of portentous crap about the finite oxygen supply up there.

That leads to a great scene where the flight engineer, played by John “Q” DeLancie, has to go down into an equipment compartment larger than the airplane, and find just the right valve to open more oxygen flow, not knowing that the evil dispatcher wants the oldest and sickest passengers to die to preserve their supply (which is why he recommends moving them aft “for fresher air”). Not one of the crew knows enough about aircraft systems to figure it out or look it up themselves, but they figure it out in time.

Hokey enough yet? Nope. Next, the plan is to move the CG forward by, get this, rendezvousing with a tanker loaded with water, and pumping it into the forward cargo compartment via a hose fed through a smashed cockpit window. Ya know whose job that is? Well, since you know how the movie ends, you know it’s DeLancie again. By the time the plane is back in near-trim, yep, he’s drowning. Inside a 747. At 40,000 feet. But he makes it out.

It works! The plane can descend now! But there’s only minutes of oxygen left, and they can barely make it to 12,500 feet in time! Yes, you can’t breathe at all 1 foot above that, and there’s no trouble at all 1 foot below it. Never mind that that’s a regulatory limit for oxygen use, not a phsyiological one, and in an emergency you can do whatever you have to. But our intrepid crew doesn’t get that either.

Mercifully, it ends right after that, and I already said it’s obvious how. I rate “Final Descent” an unparalleled 5 Turkeys, even beating out “Airport '79: The Concorde”, in which George Kennedy suddenly appears as a Trans Global Airlines captain, instead of the mechanic he was in all the previous Airport movies, just in time to belly-land it on a ski slope.

Flight Plan with Jodie Foster needs to be in the conversation. What a steeming pile of shit that movies was. Granted the tech-stuff wasn’t as grossly unrealistic as the OP, but since this movie was supposed to be more a suspense drama that’s not as relevant. The human plot itself was so outlandish that it makes the technical inaccuracies mentioned above positively tolerable. You can at least suspend disbelief there, but when the plot twist and dramatic ending make you roll your eyes so hard you detatch a retina there’s no real way to give the movie any lattitude.

A fine nomination there, and I’m glad I haven’t wasted any time or money seeing it. While we’re discussing good acting skills wasted on horrible scripts, how about the “Turbulence” series (yes, there were sequels) with Joe Mantegna as the bizjet pilot who can’t seem to finish a flight himself? They’re not that bad technically, except for the scene in the original in which the teenage girl must land the plane herself, and finally manages it by bashing the autopilot into working properly with the use of her autographed souvenir baseball bat. Yes, percussive maintenance is sometimes successful.

I suppose it depends which you find worse - gratuitous stupidity or unintentional stupidity. I find the latter to be all the more distressing.

You people might want to wait until this flick (previously the subject of a “Cafe Society” thread and now in post-production) comes out, before you cast your votes… :smiley:

I’d offer High Road to China as a candidate for worst movie ever.

Two biplanes flying side by side, with their pilots conversing with each other by yelling.

As the former pilot of a biplane, all I can say is :rolleyes:

Sorry, that should have read “High Road to China as a candidate for the worst airplane movie ever”.

If an airplane movie makes you sick, does that mean you’ve joined the bile-high club?


As a current biplane pilot… someone owes me a new monitor and keyboard, as my morning tea is now covering both.

Yeah, it’s difficult enough communicating with the person in the front cockpit let alone someone sitting 30 feet away.

One cannot rule out the steaming pile that was “Executive Decision,” starring Kurt Russell, which has the added factor of being hideously racist.

Actually I saw Executive Decision when I was at about the same point in my flight training as the main character, so I kinda identified with him.


Curse this poor memory.

TV movie. Early '80s? maybe. First commercial rocket-plane. Forced to climb into orbit because of the unauthorised (satellite?) launch ordered by an (evil or incompetent) industrialist who happened to be on that very flight. Many file footage sjots of shuttle launches to bring up macguffins and evacuate passengers. (Evacuation tunnel blows up? with evil/incompetent industrialist in it?) Everyone saved by heroic macguffins by somebody.

Sonny Bono?

Anyone remember? Bueller?

How soon we forget:

Airport '75 – Charlton Heston being lowered into the cockpit of the crippled airliner; a cast to rival the worst season of Love Boat --at least until…

Airport '79–The Concorde --Sample dialog: Stewardess–“You pilots are such men!” Pilot–“They don’t call it a cockpit for nothing!”

I think you’re thinking of Starflight. It wasn’t a rocket-plane, it was the world’s first hypersonic plane (and I don’t remember them explaining how that was different from the supersonic planes that had been around for about a decade). It starred Lee Majors, but not Sonny Bono, which means even all the Airplane movies had a better cast and more believable plots.

And it was the movie I first thought of when I read the OP. They say great minds think alike, Dr. F. What does this say about us?

I have waaaaaay too much time on my hands at work. I have seen both this movie and this movie while providing care for my client. Both definitely qualify.

You poor, poor dear. Based on the IMDB description alone, I’ll withdraw my nomination of “Final Descent” in favor of “Horror at 37,000 Feet”, at least pending this summer’s release of “Snakes on a Plane, or, Samuel L. Jackson Wants to Buy a Beach House”.

Perhaps it would help to have separate categories? “Crappy Movies That Happen To Be Set On An Airplane But Would Be Crappy Anywhere”, and “Movies Whose Crappiness Depends Upon Ignoring Actual Procedure, Technology, And The Laws Of Aerodynamics”.

I admit I´m longing to see at least the trailer of that ophid infested wreck, mostly out of morbid curiosity.

Context independent crap, yep, I´ve seen a lot of those. :smiley:

Actually, I read in an article that Samuel L. Jackson did the movie because of the name. When the producers wanted to change the title he threatened to quit unless they kept it the same.