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World War I aviation action gets an impressive digital upgrade in Flyboys, a welcome addition to the "dogfight" sub-genre that includes such previous war-in-the-air films like Hell's Angels, Wings, and The 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), Flyboys takes 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 (like Superman Returns and Apocalypto, 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. Flyboys also 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 that Flyboys will be thrilling its target audience for many years to come. --Jeff Shannon
Extras from Flyboys
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
More "Military and War" Films
There is lots of action, great cinematography, a good plot, and a love story as well.
Flyboys is an interesting film representing the young American men and others who came to the aid of the French in war torn France during WWI against the Germans.
If you expect even a nominal attempt at accuracy, then this movie will likely be disappointing for you to watch.
If you know anything about WW I, you would know this movie is a farce.Published 7 days ago by James C. Perry
Nice cinematography. Story is a little slow. This would have made a good 45 minute movie. They should have diverted from the actual story it was based upon to make it more... Read morePublished 11 days ago by dave emerson
What a great movie! The flying scenes are intense and the story is great! Highly recommend this one!Published 17 days ago by D. Burke
I liked it, but I like most movies about war and military service. Great WW1 air combat scenes.Published 18 days ago by AMK
Excellent flying film. Great vintage aircraft and authentic aerial scenes. Good casting and beautiful French countryside settings.Published 1 month ago by Ronald Kaplan
Best when scenes are in the air. Cinematography is first rate.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Accurate view of how bad the planes were back then. Technology was new so no surprise that the planes were easily damaged and that they would fall apart so easily.Published 1 month ago by John VanTuyl