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World War I aviation action gets an impressive digital upgrade inFlyboys, a welcome addition to the "dogfight" sub-genre that includes such previous war-in-the-air films likeHell's Angels,Wings, andThe Blue Max. While those earlier films had the advantage of real and genuinely dangerous flight scenes (resulting, in some cases, in fatal accidents during production),Flyboystakes full (and safe) advantage of the digital revolution, with intensely photo-realistic recreations of WWI aircraft, authentic period structures, and CGI environments requiring a total of 850 digital effects shots, resulting in an abundance of amazing images, many of them virtually indistinguishable from reality. Unfortunately, the film's technical achievement is more impressive than its screenplay, which conventionally and predictably tells the fact-based story, set in France in 1916, of the daring young pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille, a pioneering French air-combat unit that welcomed American enlistees prior to the United States' entry into the war.
There's a familiar cliché to match every thrilling scene of aerial combat, but director Tony Bill manages to keep it all interesting, from the romance between a young American maverick (James Franco) and a pretty French girl (newcomer Jennifer Decker) to the exciting action in the air, which includes a stock variety of heroes (many of them composites of real-life WWI pilots) and an intimidating villain known only as "The Black Falcon," whose Fokker Dr-1 triplane (one of many in the film) recalls the exploits of German "ace of aces" Manfred von Richtofen, the dreaded "Red Baron" of legend. With impeccable production values that will impress even the most nit-picking aviation buffs,Flyboys(likeSuperman ReturnsandApocalypto, also released in 2006) was also one of the first feature films to be shot with Panavision's state-of-the-art Genesis digital cameras, resulting in beautiful images that meet or exceed the visual nuance of film.Flyboysalso benefits from painstaking attention to physical detail, making it easier to forgive its shortcomings as a generic and formulaic slice of romanticized history. So while some viewers may have wished for a more realistic and grown-up depiction of the Lafayette Escadrille, it's safe to say thatFlyboyswill be thrilling its target audience for many years to come. --Jeff Shannon
Director Tony Bill on Filming Dogfight Sequences
...On throwing away the script for pilot training
...On the real-life stunt pilot who stars in the film
More "War in the Sky" Films
SPA124 Lafayette Escadrille: American Volunteer Airmen in World War 1
Flyboys=Pearl Harbour...No redeeming value except as a clear illustration of how NOT to make a combat flying film This stinker comes close to equalling that gigantic bomb from 2001 "Pearl Harbour" starring Ben Affleck. The acting is wooden and forgettable, the action sequences are humorous at best, and the direction is...well, let's just say, director Tony Bill has apparently picked up his directing chops while starring in "Barb Wire". The directing style seems to be...throw in as much loud music as possible, add a heaping helping of a lame love story, toss on some of the worst, most embarrassing lines imaginable, and let's not forget those all important CGI effects and what you end up with is the worst/funniest depiction of WW1 flying action since the Three stooges.
If you want to watch REAL WW1 flying action with REAL WW1 biplanes, check out "The Blue Max". That movie used real WW1 vintage aircraft, that actually have weight to them and do NOT perform impossible flying stunts that the Blue Angels do not even attempt using FA-18 jets.
Pacing is terribly frantic, music is insufferable, character development and construction of any dramatic impact is non-existent.
Pass this one by, unless you're willing to spend 2 hours viewing an all too typical expensive, wasteful, useless, hollywood blockbuster bomb.
A lot better than watching jets Since Top Gun, war movies about aerial warfare have always taken second seat to war movies about land battles, in terms of award nominations and box office takes. This movie shares this fate. It came out in 2006 and was probably the least hyped and least successful war movie of 2006, lagging far behind Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Annapolis, and others in the same genre. But don't let this fool you, this was a good movie, fun to watch and engaging the entire way. The movie begins by showing how the various Americans joined the war before their own country. The movie then progresses to show their training, and troubles both in and out of the cockpit. Finally comes the dogfights, of which there are several. One dogfight occurs around a zeppelin, another occurs over a trench battlefield, and another occurs over fields and forests. The dogfights themselves were very realistic, and the only miss of detail is that all the pilots landed looking just as good as when they took of, even though they sat in open air cockpits. It seems hair gel was standard treatment for WWI pilots.
For a war movie, it has all the generic subplots; the romance between a local girl and the group's brooding conscious, the doomed hero, the silent villian, the spoiled rich kid who does good, and the over eager chap who losses his nerve, only to gain it back at the end. No surprises here, though still a good story.Must-See. Rollicking. Heroic. Exciting. This is a terrific movie; full of action, passion, heroism, and derring-do. From the opening credits to the final scene, the viewer is in suspense - at times on the edge of the seat and others applauding out loud for the bravery and heroism of young Americans with a can-do spirit.
Whatever the critics might say, this is a joy to see.
Our heroes are diverse, young, knuckle-headed kids who are willing to risk it all for a casue they dimly understand and a country they do not know. Their skills improve just quickly enough to save their skins; mostly. It is alternately sweet (there is romance) and adventurous (the flying fight scenes are breath-taking).