Flyboys Movie Review

Airplanes parked on runways aren't very exciting. Sure, the motionless crafts contain the components necessary for flight, but they only achieve their fullest potential when they leave the ground and soar through the skies.

The same can be said for Flyboys. When its protagonists are grounded, Tony Bill's recounting of the birth of World War I fighter pilots resembles every other ham-fisted tale of historic heroism that has come down the cinematic pipe. But the movie triumphs when these men climb into their cockpits and finally fly.

Bland James Franco leads the baby-faced pack of soldiers who, in 1914, felt they had something to prove to their girlfriend/father/squad leader/general. The brave adventurers enlist in France's fledgling Lafayette Escadrille, a small group of pilots trained by General Thenault (Jean Reno, Hollywood's go-to French actor), who pioneered an aerial attack in the Great War against Germany. What these boys don't learn before signing on the dotted line is that the Lafayette Escadrille embarks on what are basically suicide missions. Life expectancy of a pilot in the program is three to six weeks.

That doesn't stop former ranch hand Blaine Rawlings (Franco) from pouring his heart into the war effort. Flyboys takes a perversely upbeat approach to combat. The new recruits march past maimed soldiers, yet forget the horrors of war once they spot the royal estate that serves as their barracks. The surviving members of Lafayette Escadrille regroup each evening to carouse in the military base's makeshift watering hole - since they're all on borrowed time, we're told they can't waste precious minutes honoring the dead. Yet in a scene that rings particularly false, Franco uses his airplane (which we've been lectured is a killing machine) to romance a local French girl (Jennifer Decker) and entertain her brother's children. Try to ignore the fact that the kids' father was decimated in a battle-related explosion not too long ago. We're supposed to be having fun here, people.

These lighter moments and the softened tone conflict with the film's impressive but lethal combat scenes. The men of Lafayette Escadrille risk life and limb on scarred battlefields recreated using the finest digital effects available. As mentioned, Flyboys drastically improves once in the air. Bill and his effects team rocket model planes through dizzying aeronautic sequences, though his action relies too heavily on blue-screen treatments and the airborne clashes grow repetitive over the film's long running time (2 hours and 20 minutes... about 40 minutes too long).

The edgy flight shots and stimulating biplane battles make Flyboys a better movie. They just don't make it a good one.

It's not a balloon, it's a zeppelin! An airship!

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : , Duncan Reid, James Clayton

Starring : , , David Ellison, , Jennifer Decker


Comments

Flyboys Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, 2006

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

J.K. Rowling Reassures Daniel Radcliffe That There’ll Be No More Potter Films, Probably

J.K Rowling's Pottermore addition last week, introducing fans to...

J.K. Rowling Reassures Daniel Radcliffe That There’ll Be No More Potter Films, Probably

George Clooney Hits Back At Religiously Offensive & Inflammatory Daily Mail Article

George Clooney has responded to a Daily Mail article which alleged...

George Clooney Hits Back At Religiously Offensive & Inflammatory Daily Mail Article

Franchise King Dwayne Johnson In Talks To Star In Robert Ludlum Adaptation For Universal

Dwayne Johnson might have a new creative endeavor lined up...

Franchise King Dwayne Johnson In Talks To Star In Robert Ludlum Adaptation For Universal

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: Andy Serkis On Mastering Chimps' Evolution

CGI supremo Andy Serkis made his name in the motion capture game...

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes: Andy Serkis On Mastering Chimps' Evolution

Jay Z, No Doubt, Tiesto Excited To Headline Global Citizen Festival

Jay Z, No Doubt and Tiësto have been announced as the main acts to perform...

Jay Z, No Doubt, Tiesto Excited To Headline Global Citizen Festival

Dolly Parton's Glastonbury Dog & 5 Other Celebrity Acts Of Kindness

Dolly Parton has offered to take the dog found at the Glastonbury...

Dolly Parton's Glastonbury Dog & 5 Other Celebrity Acts Of Kindness
Advertisement

Robin Thicke Destined To Be A One Hit Wonder? His Album 'Paula' Sells Just 530 Copies!

Robin Thicke can no longer cruise along in the slipstream of his...

Robin Thicke Destined To Be A One Hit Wonder? His Album 'Paula' Sells Just 530 Copies!

UN Women Names Emma Watson As Youngest UN Ambassador

Emma Watson may be just 24, but she is already doing big things...

UN Women Names Emma Watson As Youngest UN Ambassador

BBC Drowns The "Doctor Who" Leak In A Flood Of New Capaldi Content

The past couple of days have been a feast for any diehard Doctor...

BBC Drowns The


More recommendations

Advertisement