From Hollywood's legendary Cocoanut Grove to the pioneering conquest of the wild blue yonder, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator celebrates old-school filmmaking at its finest. We say "old school" only because Scorsese's love of golden-age Hollywood is evident in his approach to his subject--Howard Hughes in his prime (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in his)--and especially in his technical mastery of the medium reflecting his love for classical filmmaking of the studio era. Even when he's using state-of-the-art digital trickery for the film's exciting flight scenes (including one of the most spectacular crashes ever filmed), Scorsese's meticulous attention to art direction and costume design suggests an impassioned pursuit of craftsmanship from a bygone era; every frame seems to glow with gilded detail. And while DiCaprio bears little physical resemblance to Hughes during the film's 20-year span (late 1920s to late '40s), he efficiently captures the eccentric millionaire's golden-boy essence, and his tragic descent into obsessive-compulsive seclusion. Bolstered by Cate Blanchett's uncannily accurate portrayal of Katharine Hepburn as Hughes' most beloved lover, The Aviator is easily Scorsese's most accessible film, inviting mainstream popularity without compromising Scorsese's artistic reputation. As compelling crowd-pleasers go, it's a class act from start to finish. --Jeff Shannon
DVD Features In his commentary track, director Martin Scorsese offers his own impressions of Howard Hughes and rattles off his memories of experiencing Hughes's films. He mentions how he made Cate Blanchett watch every Katharine Hepburn film from the '30s on the big screen, and observes that Kate Beckinsale had "a real sense of the stature of a Hollywood goddess." But in general he doesn't talk much about the craft of making the film. That area is covered better by editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who also appears on the commentary track, and producer Michael Mann makes a few appearances (all were recorded separately). The picture is brilliant, but the 5.1 sound is not as aggressive in the rear speakers and subwoofer as one might expect, other than some nice surround effects in the Hell's Angels flying sequence.
The second disc collects almost three hours of features. There's one unnecessary deleted scene, and an 11-minute making-of featurette that's basically the cast and director heaping praise on each other. More interesting are the short featurettes on visual effects (including the XF-11 scene, of course), production design, costumes, hair and makeup, and score, and Loudon Wainwright discusses his and his children's musical performances. Historical perspective is provided by spotlights on Hughes's role in aviation and his obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a 43-minute Hughes documentary from the History Channel (part of the Modern Marvels series, it focuses on his mechanical innovations and spends less than a minute on his movies). More unusual are DiCaprio and Scorsese's appearance on an OCD panel, and a half-hour interview segment DiCaprio did with Alan Alda. --David Horiuchi
The Personalities of The Aviator
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An epic biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920's to the mid-1940's.
DVD Features: Audio Commentary: Commentary by Scorsese Deleted Scenes:Deleted scene: Howard Tells Ava About His Car Accident Documentaries:Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes-- a 45 minute Documentary By The History Channel Documentary:2 Music Featurettes: Scoring The Aviator: The Work Of Howard Shore The Wainwright Family - Loudon, Rufus And Martha Featurette:A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator The Role Of Howard Hughes In Aviation History An evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD Panel Discussion With Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, And Howard Hughes' Widow Terry Moore Other:2 Behind-the-scenes featurettes: The Age Of Glamour: The Hair And Makeup Of The The Visual Effects Of The Aviator Photo gallery
Martin Scorsese's stylish take on Howard Hughes' early life, is a stunningly visual treat in art direction made even more compelling by Scorsese's sure handed directorial flourishes. Scorsese is, by now, a master of the medium, always finding the interesting shot, the fitting camera angle, the flowing tracking shot, the camera movement that breathes energy into his story. It is beautifully filmed and acted, most especially by Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.
It is a long movie, and it will be interesting to see whether a modern audience, many doubtless unfamiliar with the Hughes legend, will find it as intriguing as we who remember the Hughes of Las Vegas etc. Take the clue from the title, this is a film about the young Hughes who was a genius and a creative dynamo, and an almost overlooked pioneer of aviation. This was a young man full of ambition, dreams, energy and contradictions. The film not only presages the pitiable creature Hughes will become, a slave to his obsessive compulsive illness, but it does so with sympathy and sensitivity.
A first rate biopic done with flair and style. Another worthwhile look at an American life.
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Reviews of THE AVIATOR seem to fall into three camps. Those who hate it because it rewrites history...I'll admit right here that I don't know enough about the "true" history of Hughes to comment on the accuracy of every detail. Others hate it because they find it boring or don't find Leonard DiCaprio credible as Howard Hughes. The third group likes the movie.
That's the group I'm happily in. It is by no means the greatest epic ever made, but for me it hearkens back to the glory days of the early Cinemascope, Technicolor Hollywood epic, but with better special effects. The sets and costumes are completely luscious. No expense has been spared. You feel glamorous just watching the darn thing. The acting, while very good all around, teeters close to going "over-the-top," which is just what this sort of film needs. It is not a subtle film. It is trying to tell the epic story of an epic American who achieved epic things and endured epic personal battles. A bit of bluster and scenery chewing is in order.
For example, everyone loved Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn(heck she won the Oscar). I admired her performance too...but when you watch it, you see that it is pretty unsubtle. Was Hepburn, even in quiet moments, really so full of PERSONALITY? But the film needs this to work.
Alan Alda was great...he plays slimy so well now. In my mind, he's going to totally shake off Hawkeye Pierce and emerge as a key player of political villany. In real life, he seems like a terrific, open, intelligent and easily amused person. Scary how just a tiny tweaking of those dials makes him creepy. Good stuff!! Kate Beckinsale, out of her league, does okay as Ava Gardner, but the role is generic. You never feel Ava Gardner...just some nameless starlet.Read more ›
On one level, this is an interesting and convincing period piece about the times in which Hughes lived and his remarkable accomplishments. I didn't fully catch onto the filmmakers' ultimate intent though until I watched it a second time: that is, the gravity of obsessive-compulsive disorder in Hughes' life. I greatly enjoyed the film the first time I saw it but it wasn't until that second viewing that I realized the power and grittiness of the story they were trying to tell and, for me, the "classic" status it should/will receive. The source music really helps set the period and the score by Howard Shore is truly exceptional. My respect for DiCaprio grew tremendously as well - both for his actual performance and after learning more about his passion for wanting to put this story onscreen and all the work he went to and interest he took in the project. I don't like using the word "epic" and often avoid so-called stories that are, but 'The Aviator' is a grand one that has a tone all of its own due to the focus on Hughes' determination and achievements in face of mounting external struggles and even more overwhelming internal ones.
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This is an excellent movie that shows the brilliance and illness of a legend. The acting cannot be faulted. Everyone does their job well.
I can't say great things about the blu-ray because it really didn't enhance anything. That said, for $10.00 I won't complain. If you have the DVD, don't bother with the blu-ray. If you don't, it will be 10 bucks well spent.
Here for once you have Hollywood hard at work rather than hardly working, and a present day glimpse at what "screen magic" used to be. Perhaps the placement of a story during Hollywood's golden era helped. But what a convergence of planets -- writers avoiding knee-jerk political correctness despite the mammoth temptation of Howard Hughes at center, Leonardo DeCapio performing as a top-notch, intelligent actor and not a sneering boy, Martin Scorsese just being an honest tradesman. That plus mid-century 20 razzle-dazzle, an edgy sort of heroism, and the wild card of a tough lesson in obsessive-compulsive disorder adds up to a movie that will certainly last, long after Titanic has sunk again and the gratuitous sadism of Casino has been properly relegated to the smell-o-vision pile. Bravo!
See it on as big a screen as possible. You will meet, best as he can be recreated for you, a complex and driven creator named Howard Hughes who attempted to do more with his life than simply rest on the $$$ he was born with. Warts and all but funny too. As for the rest of the cast, no extras here -- the recreation of Ava Garner was particularly smashing and unexpected.
Despite having lived through the era and read all the Life magazines & other news junk about Hughes' last days in my teens, the movie taught me I knew nothing at all worth knowing about him. I had sat down just expecting a typical Hollywood stroll through big sets, snazzy clothes, all that jazz. I can count on one hand films that were actually an advanced learning experience, and I have seen dumpsters full of them in 55 years. But this is not only not one of those clunkers, but also close to the top.
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Same thing happens with my copy, and I plan to exchange it. When I try to play the commentary instead of the commentary being activated, the subtitles are activated instead. Some forums discuss the content of the commentary in detail, so this is not a problem with every copy.