Friday, September 22, 2006

Movie Review: Flyboys

Flyboys is based loosely on the experiences of the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI. This French aviation squadron was made up of American volunteers prior to the entry of the US into the war.

The movie is an entertaining showcase of computer generated aerobatics, but it's a bit too long and a bit too cliched to be a truely good film. If it was just one or the other it would be more forgivable, but the two combined tend to drag the film down. When the characters aren't in the cockpit the film drags, particularly during the romantic subplot. You can't blame this on the acting, which is good, there just isn't a lot for the actors to work with. Their characters are a checklist representing different war film archetypes. You will probably be able to tell who will live and who will die as soon as they appear on screen.

A couple of the characters are supposedly based on real-life people, while the rest are supposedly amalgamations of different real-life flyers. Even so, the characters come off cliched.

Still, the action scenes almost make up for it. Seeing some of these classic planes recreated in full color was a treat. If it wasn't for the amount of downtime between each dogfight, this would have been a more entertaining film.

Also, the film does a pretty good job showing just how dangerous life was for a WWI fighter pilot. The escadrille always comes back from a mission short some pilots. I have to give it credit for that and for showing period costume and uniforms in full color. This is always nice for an era usually only portrayed in black and white.

The film earns its PG-13 rating for violence. It's a war film. There's death, there's blood, and there's maiming. Not as graphic as many other war films, but it's all there. Other than a couple of brief scenes inside a brothel, there's no sex in the film, not even partial nudity. The romantic subplot gets no further than a kiss.

For the reasons I've mentioned, I can't give this film a full recommendation. I'd say wait for it to come out on DVD, but the action scenes are worth seeing on the big screen. I just wish they made up a larger percentage of the film, or else that the rest of the film had more to offer.

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