(1993)3.5Karl WilliamsA harrowing film, that, despite a spectacular plane crash sequence and an unflinching, but sympathetic portrayal of its characters' harsh circumstances, never quite becomes more than an exercise in stage craft and docudrama. Like the other films directed by longtime producer Frank Marshall, Arachnophobia (1990) and Congo (1995), the characters feel more like caricatures, cardboard cutouts, not one of them ever really springing to life in the way of even the clichéd, totally contrived protagonists of another disaster epic, Titanic (1997). It's hard to believe that Marshall's cast is playing a group of real, actual human beings, so colorlessly do they blend one into another. Missing also is the sense of hallucinogenic desperation as the weeks pass by; "hungry" seems to be the emotion that is insisted upon to the detriment of exploring all others, but the cast of your typical reality survival game seems more famished than the toned-down starvation victims depicted here. It's all so respectfully, coolly re-created that, ironically, given its title, the film never really comes to life with the searing pain, passion, and heartbreak that must have accompanied the events depicted. It's a quality production to be sure, but Alive won't leave viewers feeling too much; that is disappointing considering its powerful subject matter.