Aviation is one of the broadest topics when it comes to the world of cinema. However, I was determined to find a movie to review for Taking Up Room’s Aviation In Film Blogathon. While visiting the Youtube channel, Cult Cinema Classics, I came across a film titled The Disappearance of Flight 412. As this title suggests, there is a plane within the story. But the story itself is what led me to ultimately select the movie for this review! The idea of the military possibly crossing paths with a UFO is fascinating, especially in film. I also don’t receive many opportunities to review tv movies from the 1970s. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for takeoff, as we’re about to start this review of The Disappearance of Flight 412!
Things I liked about the film:
The use of time-stamps and a voice-over: Throughout the movie, a male voice-over can be heard explaining what was happening on screen. His tone is serious, which complemented the film’s tone. The inclusion of this technique reminded me of The Twilight Zone, where the narrator is presenting the film as a case study. Another technique used in this film was time-stamps. These showed how much time had passed since the mystery started. The time-stamps also shared locations, informing the audience when a scene transition took place. This technique added to the film’s intended delivery; a classified file the audience is given exclusive access to.
A different side of the military: When one thinks of the military’s presence in a film, movies involving war/combat typically come to mind. However, there are films that depict the military in less combative environments. The Disappearance of Flight 412 is one of those films, as members of the Air Force are performing daily operations or testing a plane. The 1974 tv movie also focuses on the leadership within the military. As the story revolves around the military’s approach to unexplained phenomena, various military leaders handle the situation in a way they feel is best. With all that said, The Disappearance of Flight 412 presents a different side of the military, allowing the film to have its own unique identity!
The mystery’s start time: I’ve stated before how I prefer mysteries start sooner rather than later. This is so the audience can get, and stay, invested in the mystery. In The Disappearance of Flight 412, the mystery started six minutes into the movie. Because of this, it allowed the audience to get hooked into the story. It also allowed the story to get straight to the point sooner.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A misleading title: This movie is titled The Disappearance of Flight 412. But throughout the story, the audience follows the members of the titular flight. Therefore, they know exactly where this plane ended up. There were two fighter jets, named Tango 1 and Tango 2, that did disappear. However, the title does not acknowledge those jets. With that said, I found this movie’s title misleading.
Few opportunities to know the characters: According to both IMDB and the title of the Youtube video, The Disappearance of Flight 412 is classified as a mystery. But because the story primarily revolves around this mystery, there aren’t many opportunities to get to know the characters. Sure, the audience learns a little bit of information about them, such as some of their military history. However, this information isn’t enough to truly get to know the characters. If anything, the audience simply becomes familiar with them.
The prolonged mention of UFOs: At the beginning of the movie, the aforementioned voice-over provides explanations and details about possible UFO sightings. This sets the stage for what’s to come in the story. After this introduction, though, the subject of UFOs isn’t brought up until about thirty-seven minutes into the movie. If that introduction hadn’t been included in the film, the first mention of UFOs would have been an unexpected surprise for the audience. But because of the introduction’s inclusion and because the introduction felt more like a news reel, it, in a way, presented false expectations of more serious UFO discussion.
My overall impression:
There are movies where the subject itself is more interesting than the film. Some examples are Over the Edge and The Last Full Measure. In my opinion, The Disappearance of Flight 412 fits in this category. As I mentioned in my review, the story primarily revolves around the mystery of the disappearing fighter jets. Since the movie also covers the subject of the military dealing with unexplained phenomena, I think this topic would serve as an interesting documentary. That way, more time could be given to the subject, while also exploring the debates and perspectives surrounding it. At the end of the movie, a series of text states how the film’s characters and events are fictional. Maybe if The Disappearance of Flight 412 had been based on a real-life story, the project would be more memorable than it was.
Overall score: 6.2 out of 10
Have you seen The Disappearance of Flight 412? Are there any films involving aviation you like? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!