MH370: The Plane That Disappeared: Netflix delivers 1/3 of a good doco on this century’s greatest mystery

MH370: the plane that disappeared

It has been nine years since Malaysian Airways Flight 370 departed from Kuala Lumpur on a standard overnight stay to Beijing. On board were two pilots, 10 crew members and 227 passengers. Forty minutes into the flight, at around 1:20 a.m., they disappeared, probably forever.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared is a three-part documentary series that tries to look at the case and – as the teasers tease us breathlessly – presents new information and shocking revelations about the case.

If alone. The Plane That Disappeared is not a bad series. But those hoping for solid investigative journalism in the style of Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, or Challenger: The Final Flight, will be disappointed.

Netflix's MH370: The Plane That Disappeared offers a pretty good episode about what most likely happened - and then two more about the age-old phenomenon of conspiracy theories and the people forced to believe them.


Netflix’s MH370: The Plane That Disappeared offers a pretty good episode about what most likely happened – and then two more about the age-old phenomenon of conspiracy theories and the people forced to believe them.

The first episode of MH370 is by far the best and perhaps the only one that was really needed. It outlines the timeline of the tragedy, before sketching the overwhelmingly most probable and verifiable account of what actually happened that night. The pilot shut down all the communications equipment he could – let one satellite transponder work, depressurized the cabin to put everyone else on board to sleep, then turned south across the Indian Ocean, in a horrific murder-suicide. The plane is almost certainly somewhere in the vast expanses between Southwest Australia and Antarctica, where it may never be found.

But MH370: The Plane That Disappeared has two more episodes to fill – and dedicates them to two other theories. One is that the plane was hijacked by Russian mercenaries to distract from the invasion of Crimea. This seems to depend entirely on the shooting down of another Malaysian airlines plane in Europe months later by Russian forces. As if the two events must be somehow connected, rather than a grotesque coincidence.

The third theory is that the plane was hijacked, perhaps by US forces, who wanted to prevent it from reaching Beijing with a mysterious cargo.

Neither theory is completely refutable – that’s how conspiracies thrive – but it’s also clear that the filmmakers don’t believe a word of it either.

MH370: The Plane That Disappeared is a pretty good episode about what most likely happened – and then two more about the age-old phenomenon of conspiracy theories and the people forced to believe them.

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* Year after the blow, Chris Rock strikes back in a new special

Chris Rock: Selective outrage

Oh, we’ve been waiting for this, haven’t we? Well not really. But my little corner of the internet is filled all week with teasers and snippets of Chris Rock finally telling his side of the story of The Slap that brought last year’s Oscars to a standstill and who became all anyone remembers from the broadcast.

I’m still annoyed that we never heard Questlove’s acceptance speech for Summer of Soul, which is what would have happened if pandemonium hadn’t broken out.

Everyone has their opinion on the blow. Personally, if I had a choice between being the comedian who made a tasteless joke about a woman’s alopecia – which caused Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss – or being the husband who overreacted to that joke, I’d hand on my heart would rather be the latter.

But really – who would want to be?

Anyway, Rock makes us wait an hour before he finally delivers the punch, and when he does, he doesn’t hold back. He certainly doesn’t take any responsibility for what happened, or show any sign of realizing that his “joke” was a crude, cowardly, and unfunny attack on someone who had no means of answering. But he also doesn’t overlook what a poisonous presence he thinks the Pinkett-Smiths can be.

The hour leading up to that diatribe is a roller coaster of material, some OK, some sad. Rock, as always, is happiest when expressing some resentment about relationships in general – and women in particular.

How much of his schtick you still find funny is entirely up to you. I’ll always have time for the special Tamborine – which seemed more remorseful and introspective than we knew Rock was capable of, but Selective Outrage seems largely recycled, dated and by-the-numbers for Rock.


Paradise Highway is now available to stream on Netflix.

Paradise highway

This is a 2022 release that, despite starring Morgan Freeman, Juliette Binoche and Frank Grillo, still failed to get a big screen release in Aotearoa. And 2022 was a year when our movie theaters were clamoring for something — anything — popular to bring to the screen, that’s how much Covid had wreaked havoc on Hollywood’s release schedules.

None of this has stopped Paradise Highway from upping the Netflix algorithm for the most popular movies of the week.

Binoche plays a truck driver – yes, she’s heroically miscast in this – and sister to Grillo. Confusingly, Binoche retains her French accent, while Grillo speaks in the universal New Jersey-esque snarl with which he almost always leads. Neither mentions or explains why they speak so differently, but I think that’s just one of Paradise Highway’s many charms.

Not really. That’s about the only charm of Paradise Highway. The rest of the film is a bit of a mess that somehow never succeeds, whether it wants to be a drama – set in the seedy world of sex trafficking and the role American long-haul trucks could play in it – or a thriller, with Grillo in jail and Binoche on the road, trying to save each other’s lives against a grim backdrop.

What’s frustrating about Paradise Highway is the sense that the same setting and story, pared down to the essentials and confidently written and directed, had the potential to yield a learned and compelling film that tackled a very real and horrific crime. But Paradise Highway is not that movie.

Binoche, Grillo and – especially – Freeman all act like they can’t wait for the ordeal to be over. After two hours of Paradise Highway you will sympathize.

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