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In 1914; "The Great War" - WWI - began in Europe. By 1917; the Allied powers of France; England; Italy and others were on the ropes against the German juggernaut. Some altruistic young Americans disagreed with the war. They volunteered to fight alongside their counterparts in France; some in the infantry; some in the Ambulance Corps. A handful of others had a different idea: they decided to learn how to fly. The first of them - a squadron of only 38 - became known as the Lafayette Escadrille. This is their story. Forced to abandon his family's ranch; Blaine Rawlings finds his future in a newsreel chronicling the adventures of young aviators in France. At a small train station in rural Nebraska; William Jensen promises to make his family proud. In New York; spoiled Briggs Lowry embarks on a trans-Atlantic passage. Meanwhile; in France; black expatriate boxer; Eugene Skinner; vows to repay his debt to his adopted racially tolerant country. Together; these American boys arrive at an aerodrome in France; eager to learn how to fly. What they didn't realize was that they were about to embark on a great; romantic adventure; becoming the world's first combat pilots.
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
Stills from Flyboys
- Commentary by director Tony Bill and producer Dean Devlin
- 15 minutes of deleted scenes
- Short Documentary on Real Life Airmen
- Short Documentary on the SFX
- Miniature Stunt Pilot Feature
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Top customer reviews
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It turned out to be a good move on our part. The movie was really good.
The acting was great; the dogfight scenes were very well done.
James Franco was convincing as the bad boy turned hero.
It was a part of history that I was unfamiliar with. Always enjoy learning new things.
Historical accuracy aside concerning the planes, the movie is more about the people in the squadron than the flying. I generally like to watch a movie first, then watch the special features. Not with this one. Because it is based upon true events, watch the special features first, especially the section that details the history of the squadron and the people in the Lafayette Escadrilles. Reviewers have mentioned that the characters are folks you don't care about. You will care more if you watch the historical section first and learn about the true characters written into the film.
Flyboys is definitely a library addition for anyone who collects military movies.
Flyboys tells the story of a ragtag group of Americans who flew for France in World War I, before the United States officially entered the war. The plot is fairly predictable for this genre, even cliche at points, but the movie still works thanks to some amazing CGI that gives photo realistic images of the aerial combat. The cinematography is well done all around.
The acting was passable. The performance of French actress Jennifer Decker was memorable, despite limited screen time.
The blu-ray transfer is outstanding--one of the best I have seen. Amazing detail; rich colors; little or no film grain, even in nighttime shots. Because of the gorgeous cinematography and CGI effects, this is a film where you want the best possible clarity, and this blu-ray delivers. The sound is also very good. The battle noises are effective, and the epic soundtrack plays great.
Parental Advisory: Flyboys features realistic wartime violence, mild language, drinking (but not drunkenness), and a couple of scenes in a brothel (but very tame by modern standards). Also, a couple kiss in one scene. The PG-13 rating is for the violence. Apart from that, it would have been a mild PG. This is a throwback to an older style of movie making.
I recommend this movie. While fairly predictable, it nevertheless has some patriotic spirit and is beautiful to watch. The three-star rating is for the movie. If I were rating the blu-ray transfer only, I would give it a full five stars. If you are considering an upgrade from DVD, do it. You will not be sorry.