Customer Review

112 of 119 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A view from the inside, October 25, 2008
This review is from: IMAX: Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag (DVD)
I know this world well--flew from Nellis for 3 years against all of these aircraft, targets, and all through this airspace. Overall, I think this documentary does what they set out to do, and I think it tells a good, but overly spectacular story of Red Flag.

There is no doubt that this film is filled with CGI aircraft effects, rigged explosions, questionable flying tactics, and conversation/terminology that you just don't hear in a real training battle. I thought I would offer up the "why." Much like Top Gun, movie producers quickly learned that the "real thing" doesn't make for very engaging movie material. The real thing includes spread out formations, intense radar work, and shooting long range missiles from 30,000 feet, often without ever seeing the bandit with your own eyeballs. None of this shows too well on the big screen, so they have to "juice it up" by bringing all of the aircraft together into the same video frame, move the fight down to treetop level to convey the speed, and throw in a bunch of aileron rolls because they look cool (even though they don't make the guy behind you spit out in front of you). The CGI fills in the gaps where the AF wouldn't fly the requested maneuvers due to safety reasons.

As for the rigged explosions, there are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the directors/producers wanted a "from the target" view of the bombs and bullets hitting, which I must say came out really cool. To film that actual aircraft's ordnance hitting the target would have meant losing their camera and the film in the course of the explosion. The other thing is that the rigged explosings can be crafted to be especially "fiery" whereas real world bombs look like gray, soot-filled explosions and don't cut the mustard for the Hollywood types.

The last thing that really varies from the real battle is the communications between pilots. To put it simply, it they were to use real terminology, only other military pilots that knew the lingo would be able to follow the action. The target audience would be totally lost. So they toss in some of the lingo, and then typically have the pilot "explain it" in english, all in the same radio call.

Does any of the above wreck the movie? Only if you're really familiar with the way it really happens. My biggest complaint is that the CGI additions to the dogfight look fake. On the other hand, they look a lot better than they did in Air Force One, which I'm sure had a lot bigger special effects budget. For whatever reason, the CG folks just haven't figured out tactical aviation yet, so I'd rather them just show me the real thing, even if it isn't quite as spectacular.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 20, 2012 4:39:13 AM PDT
I suggest to anyone reading this review to go to http://www.fighterpilotfilm.com/ and look for 'the making of' under trailers/clips.
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