Peter Benchley’s Amazon (Movie review)

You’ve heard stories when the plane crashes in the city or the village, and leaves many dead, including those on the ground. The planes crash into civilisation. But what if the passengers are stranded in a hostile environment, such as a jungle, a desert or worse: a shark-saturated sea? Fasten your seat belts, because today, we’re unfortunately flying Trans Rio Air, to Rio de Janeiro, and might never make it! Welcome to Amazon! Since Amazon is a TV-series, I am only reviewing the first episode, which features the horrific plane crash. Here it goes.

Plot summary

The first images show a plane flying peacefully across nothing but green on the ground, as the First Officer, who has become the “guide”, describes the Amazon rainforest as “The lungs of the Earth” over the P.A. system. Somehow the camera already shows us the survivors, even before the disaster. As you probably know, some people flying alone like to chat with other people flying alone. This is what’s happening. Only between the survivors, all seated in the aft section… and the not-so-survivors (you’ll see…)

Uh-oh. The aircraft is getting closer to some heavy weather. Don’t those pilots have a weather radar to see they are headed right into a “red” area? The seat belt sign turns on. The aircraft is experiencing some heavy turbulence, and the passengers see lightning. An exasperated First Class passenger, Pia Claire (Fabiana Udenio) flying with her husband, heads to Economy… Why? Her husband tells Dr. Alex Kennedy (C. Thomas Howell), a First Class passenger, that a Gypsy told her that God protects the poor. Whenever she is anxious, she heads for Economy.

Trouble gets started. The filmmaker, probably inspired by the recent “Kapton” incidents, made the disaster quite… recent! We are now in the cargo compartment, where a couple of pets, music instruments and passenger luggage are set. Uh-oh. A spark pops in the wiring. Two sparks. Many sparks… FIRE!!!

Oh-la-la! Pia Claire walks through the aisle, nervously shaking hands, as everybody recognises her as the famous opera diva. Karen Oldham (Carol Alt), Flight Attendant, sees Mrs. Claire and asks her to go back to First Class. Boo. Pia takes a seat next to Andrew Talbott (Rob Stewart) and fastens her seat belt tightly.

The aircraft is now right into the storm area. Karen walks to First Class, asking Dr. Kennedy if he can assist Mrs. Claire. He immediately goes, and as he does that, Karen notices smoke coming out of a vent. Not a good sign! She runs to the flight deck and notices it is full of smoke, with two exasperated airmen, oxygen masks on, struggling to maintain controls. Just as requested by the flight crew, she closes the door and, over the intercom, doesn’t get much info. They have heavy electrical problems. She presumes they will make an emergency landing. But where?

In an attempt to reassure Renato, Pia’s husband, she gives him a couple of miniature liquor bottles. “Everything’s gonna be just fine.” The aircraft is into HEAVY turbulence and drops several hundred feet! The passengers and cabin crew with no seat belts on are tossed around the cabin and passengers start screaming. Karen holds tightly to the seats and yells everyone to remove eyeglasses, sharp objets, earrings, etc. The aircraft keeps losing altitude in a now dark Amazon jungle. In the flight deck, the Captain suggests landing in a flat land visible at the distance. It’s their only hope.

The lights turn off, the emergency floor lights illuminate, and the oxygen masks drop, as a result of the sudden loss of altitude. In the cockpit, the pilots still struggle to “keep the nose up”. But it’s too late. Descending very rapidly, they hit the ground at a very high speed.

The Trans Rio Air plane, still in one piece, keeps sliding across mud and trees. The passengers still conscious that the plane is crashing keep yelling. The left wing gets on fire, the plane hits a rock, pivots, breaks in pieces, and the tail finds itself in the edge of the cliff, with, you guessed it, the only survivors onboard. It’s over. Everything is still. No, wait. It isn’t over. The front section explodes and the tail section is swept away, falling into the trees.

The next day, the rescue teams find no survivors on the plane. Of course, everyone is worried about Pia Claire. But they haven’t found her body yet… in the First Class section. I will stop right here. I suggest you go to the official website for information about this and the other episodes.

Appreciation

The first episode showing the horrific plane crash is neat. Quite a heavy disaster and good special effects, considering it is only a TV-series. However, I am very disappointed with the goofs (see below) and think that they ruin an otherwise great example of plane crash. A word or two about the rest of the series: I am not a particular fan, in fact I stopped watching it for a while. It doesn’t really touch me. I am just hoping that they get rescued and that it’s over!

I give Peter Benchley’s Amazon First Episode 7 out of 10 because, you guessed it, of the aviation goofs.

Things to notice

The movie is unfortunately inaccurate in continuity and aviation facts, as a result of a bad editing.

  • The aircraft type used is a true hybrid. The cockpit looks almost like the Airbus A320. The passenger cabin is similar to the Airbus A300, but not identical. The aircraft, from the outside, looks like a Boeing 737-200.
  • The registration of the aircraft, N97 48C is very erroneous. First of all, a United States registration does not bear any spaces. Secondly, it isn’t really a mistake, but from a Brazilian airline, I’d expect a Brazilian registration, such as PP-??? or PT-???, unless the aircraft is leased from another airline. And lastly, the very same registration is used by the Brazilian military helicopters. All of them.

Now some trivia, which comes in the next episodes…

  • The flight number is only found out in the third episode, or by viewing the official website’s description. Karen, after collecting a life vest near a lake, remembers the disaster, and starts remaking the safety demonstration. “Welcome to flight 767…”
  • She concludes her announcement by saying “Thank you for flying T.R.A. Airlines”… and not Trans Rio Airlines or Trans Rio Air.
  • The registration N9748C has been used in many movies and TV series up to now, such as Dallas, Final Descent and Free Fall. It is a “reserved fictitious tail number” by the Public Affairs office of the FAA.
  • Additionally, the font used for Trans Rio Airlines (T.R.A.) is the same as Trans Regional Airlines (T.R.A.!) from the movie Free Fall.
  • Speak Portuguese? The “Fasten Seat Belts” sign is translated to “Apertem os cintos de segurança” (litterally: “tighten the safety belts”)

The plane

It is a hybrid aircraft flown by Trans Rio Airlines, flight number 767, flying from an unknown origin, destination Rio de Janeiro. registration is “N97 48C”.

TV series links

Specifications

U.S.A. 1999, Produced by WIC Entertainment and Alliance Atlantis Communications. Directed by Jon Cassar and Luc Chalifour. Starring C. Thomas Howell, Carol Alt, Chris Martin, Fabiana Udenio, Tyler Hynes, Rob Stewart. Also known as Amazon (French), Amazonas – Gefangene des Dschungels (German).

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One comment on “Peter Benchley’s Amazon (Movie review)
  1. Amazon Fan says:

    what a great show. should never have been cancelled. premiered years before Lost and was much better than the JJ abrams show

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