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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.91%
Worth A Look35.5%
Average: 15.38%
Pretty Bad: 6.51%
Total Crap: 7.69%

12 reviews, 97 user ratings

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Aviator, The (2004)
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by Erik Childress

"Scorsese Going For That Oscar Is Just The Way Of The Future"
4 stars

There’s a certain kinship I can feel with Howard Hughes. A young guy, full of ideas, a desire to make the most epic of epic motion pictures, who hates crowds and on occasion just likes to be alone. Martin Scorsese has now crafted an immensely entertaining biopic about the legendary and innovative dreamer and it’s almost as if he’s done it through the eyes of another filmmaker with an affinity for Hughes. Not to mention WWII epics, old planes and an optimism reserved for the visionary in every one of us. Make no mistake, but The Aviator feels less like a Scorsese film and more like one made by Steven Spielberg.

One of the more amazing things about Hughes is how few big-screen treatments have actually been constructed on his behalf. The most well-known are probably the 1977 telepic with Tommy Lee Jones and Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard about the eccentric battle over his will. The trusty IMDB only lists ten films to ever deal with Hughes and that includes momentary glances in films like Tucker and The Rocketeer. It’s no wonder that many of our greatest filmmakers share the same fascination with him and have been trying to bring his story back to the forefront.

Over time, names such as Spielberg, Michael Mann, Brian DePalma, Christopher Nolan and The Hughes Brothers have all been attached to developing Hughes projects with names as diverse as Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Edward Norton, Warren Beatty and Jim Carrey all eager to step into the role. Leonardo DiCaprio has been attached to this particular script for about five years and while some have questioned the casting, Leo is more than up to the challenge.

Spanning a 20-year period in Hughes’ life, it begins with him as an inherited millionaire on the set of his war epic, Hell’s Angels. He knows very little about the art of filmmaking (it takes him 25 miles of film and $2 million to realize that you need backgrounds to dictate a field of motion) so he seems more like another bored, spoiled rich kid. The Thomas Crown or Paris Hilton of his day. But he has no intention to just sit on that money. He’s got ideas, visions, innovations and he’s determined to get them out of his cranium and into the world; not so much for fame or what they can provide the human race (initially), he just may need to clear his head.

With great wealth comes great crowds and Hughes found himself in the company of Hollywood royalty like Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani), Errol Flynn (Jude Law, with about four minutes of screen time) and Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). It’s this latter relationship that’s focused on for the first half of the film. Hepburn was no Hollywood cookie who would jump instantly into bed with the first man to make goo-goo eyes at her (except maybe Spencer Tracy), but she doesn’t sense a falseness to Hughes’ charm and flying can be an instant aphrodisiac. Hughes could certainly admire someone who could express their thoughts faster than he could.

Hughes and the size of his inheritance could hardly register him as the “little guy.” In fact, it’s a bit off-putting when he tells off the Hepburn family for having money and not working for it. (You weren’t exactly born poor, Howard.) But like Preston Tucker and his dream, Hughes was the underdog against Pan Am’s Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), the U.S. Government and even a certain organization that “doesn’t like tits.” The greatest laugh of the movie is in the reveal of this institution.

The constant pressure on Hughes to one-up the competition begins to take its toll on the Obsessive-Compulsive disorder that’s been breaching ever since childhood. For germs of any kind to contaminate this man might just be enough to derail his plans for the future; but it’s their avoidance that nearly does the trick. Perchance it’s the egomaniacal way of those striving for greatness that leads them to believe that no one is worthy of touching them for fear that their mediocrity would somehow rub off. Or maybe the psychological scars of our youth really do come back to haunt us if our mother still fully bathed us in the living room while practicing our spelling skills with words like Q-U-A-R-A-N-T-I-N-E.

DiCaprio didn’t get much of a character to work around in his last effort with Scorsese. Gangs of New York was clearly Daniel Day-Lewis’ show. Here, DiCaprio has a character and nails it. In the post-Titanic era, DiCaprio could have either skirted by or become a punchline to the public, but by choosing films like Gangs and challenging roles like Hughes or Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can, Leo continues to outshine other actors of his ilk and deserves a nomination here. Speaking of which, Oscar producers should start clearing the red carpet for Cate Blanchett. The minute she evolves into Hepburn-speak on the golf course, you could sense near applause in the screening room and when it was over, the sound of 40 pens writing the word “Oscar” into their notes. Also terrific are Alan Alda as the pocket-stuffin’ Congressman on Pan-Am’s side and Alec Baldwin as the CEO pulling his chain. Baldwin’s closing line has to be the best since Nicole Kidman’s in Eyes Wide Shut.

Scorsese has always challenged audiences and the medium with his techniques, experiments and genre-branching. With The Aviator, he may have created his most audience-friendly creation to date. A PG-13 rating aside that may irk his most strident devotees, Scorsese only metaphorically gets to kick people while they’re down but still possesses enough vision to keep the film on its feet and charging forward with nary a lull in the narrative. Every aerial sequence in the film is extraordinary, above all a reenactment of the Hell’s Angels dogfight which will have you itching for Scorsese to look into doing a war epic of some kind. At a time when awesome plane crashes are becoming a cliché in their portrayal, Scorsese shows up with a doozy that has as much impact in its aftermath as its fall from the sky. Sometimes you wish Hollywood would give Scorsese the modern equivalent of the $2 million and 25 miles of film that Hughes had for Angels. Imagine the possibilities. Keep repeating to yourself that it’s the way of the future and it may just become a reality.

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originally posted: 12/17/04 16:04:10
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell long but really good 4 stars
1/11/10 Eric Leo did a good job, great movie if you bother to watch 4 stars
12/24/08 Brap YES 5 stars
3/31/07 David Pollastrini All the women in this film are hot! 3 stars
3/07/07 Frank Rountree Good movie, good history lesson! I liked it. 4 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday I was drawn in and spellbound from the very beginning. 4 stars
1/04/07 Alice I do not understand the ratings.Nothing special, boring by times. 3 stars
11/25/06 Gwen Stefani? Not a bad film, but I watched it in fast-forward so not too long... 3 stars
10/01/06 Charles Tatum Excellent film, DiCaprio finally wins my grudging respect 5 stars
8/05/06 Agent Sands Another riveting Scorsese biopic. Fantastic in all departments. 5 stars
5/27/06 Steve Newman Great film - 30 mins to long - now going to read how true it all was!! 4 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Great acting throughout, brilliantly rendered period detail - a fine departure for Scorsese 4 stars
3/12/06 daveyt enjoyable... 4 stars
3/03/06 Tanya Very good 5 stars
1/08/06 Gerry Dunne good story let down by appalling flying scenes 3 stars
12/28/05 John Dog Superb! 5 stars
11/16/05 Quigley Dicaprio's acting is suberb, but it was too long, and I didn't want to see leo naked. ever. 4 stars
11/05/05 mike winger i was exspecting too see kate beckinsale tits 1 stars
10/12/05 Jennifer Free The movie drags on and on. I actually got bored and didn't finish after an hour and a half 2 stars
9/01/05 herkos akhaion Pointless, looks good, but story is poorly told 2 stars
8/30/05 LS Galvin Amazingly acted, beautifully directed, satisfying biopic! 5 stars
8/28/05 D Buckley Leo should have won best actor 4 stars
8/22/05 ES Cate's roll is wasted here, she should have saved it for a hepburn bio-movie, film stinks 2 stars
8/17/05 shadi The Aviator is a great movie! it`s greater than life & DiCaprio is amazing in it! 5 stars
8/13/05 lozita it rocks! 5 stars
8/13/05 Snicklets Outstanding! Held me captive from beginning to end. Leo DiCaprio shines; Cate wonderful. 5 stars
8/13/05 Dr. Video Excellent acting esp by DiCaprio. 5 stars
7/31/05 RK DiCaprio and Blanchett are excellent 4 stars
7/30/05 Dr. Zoidberg Sugarcoated bullshit; watch Marty sell his balls to the PG-13 crowd! 1 stars
7/27/05 Malaka The film was awesome, it's got everything a movie should be, Great 5 stars
7/26/05 Kankasaur Couldn't ask for more excitement and obsession with detail from Hughes himself 5 stars
7/05/05 Ry Great Movie of great man. It's based on a true story, not a made up script you morons. 5 stars
7/04/05 mariann Dull and boring....We turned it off after 30 minutes. 1 stars
6/23/05 Naka Stunning, intelligent, surprisingly good preformance by DiCaprio. I was enthralled. 5 stars
6/15/05 JFK bad music, boring script, average actings, long movie. Not a best film 3 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands Long live Scorsese. 5 stars
6/07/05 Anthony G Good 4 stars
6/06/05 R.W. Welch Mostly successful, tho the main characters in this opus are impossible to re-create. 4 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon i'm sorry but Leo can't act! he's a FACE. very unbelievable acting by most of cast, too. 1 stars
6/04/05 rohit adhikari it is one of the most beautiful movies i have ever seen . it is a must watch 5 stars
6/01/05 Monday Morning Couldn't decide what kind of film it wanted to be, except "long". VERY disappointing. 3 stars
5/28/05 Saab Rocks Borring and long. There's only three minutes of action, and the movie is three hours long! 2 stars
5/26/05 Jake Fasinating and Entertaining 5 stars
5/02/05 dwarzel Academy awards for doing impressions? 4 stars
4/26/05 hp feel good film - got to watch for martin scorsese and leanardo 4 stars
4/16/05 malcolm pleasantly surprised by dicaprio's performance, otherwise, just not that interesting 3 stars
4/11/05 Bing good but too long 3 stars
4/08/05 Lina Correa Very intense film, great acting by DiCaprio 4 stars
3/31/05 Madeira Pure genius. It could kick Million Dollar Baby's ass any day. 5 stars
3/26/05 Denise great 4 stars
3/24/05 Michael Lloyd Scorsese's finest work since Goodfellas 5 stars
3/24/05 dana Gordon A must see on the big screen 4 stars
3/19/05 Green Grenlim has some exciting moments, but a little overlong 4 stars
3/06/05 Bueller A depressing visual feast. 4 stars
3/06/05 Josh Scorses indulges Leo's need for a "sympathetic" character. Overwrought. 3 stars
3/03/05 enid leo is boring, the film focuses exclusively on him, thus the film is boring. 1 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung pretty boring - not martin's best 3 stars
3/02/05 Pickles Leo is a crap actor, you're not watch hughes youre just watching Leo with an accent, boring 1 stars
2/25/05 Phyllis Kunz Fuckinubelieveable that Alec did not win the nomination for best supporting actor. Fuck! 5 stars
2/20/05 lj worth it for cate blanchett alone--she is marvelous as hepburn 4 stars
2/19/05 Captain Craig Terriffic from start to finish. Leaves one wanting more! 5 stars
2/18/05 susee scorsese, inthe way i never pickin 2 stars
2/18/05 Elza Hudson A heap of junk - very boring. 1 stars
2/17/05 Taylor Fladgate Full of depth and great acting. 4 stars
2/14/05 ELI gonna win best pic. 5 stars
2/14/05 Jeanine Price OK 4 stars
2/13/05 dbx Most boring movie I've ever seen. Leo: not an interesting actor, should have had JohnnyDepp 1 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle interesting biography 5 stars
2/04/05 Mirella Rodriguez Fantastic! The acting is right on. 5 stars
2/04/05 Barbara Long A decent movie, Leo is cool. 4 stars
2/04/05 Agent Sands Scorsese's latest opus is impressive, though not up to par with "Bull," "Fellas," or "Dead. 5 stars
2/03/05 Steve Michaud I'll take "lesser" Scorsese over most of the directors out there any day 4 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg Leo's best. This movie is NOT Titanic. Thank God. 4 stars
2/01/05 Elena this was incredible. i am in awe. 5 stars
1/29/05 Richard Brandt One is impressed by all Hughes accomplished despite an absolutely debilitating disorder 4 stars
1/29/05 Red Sox Still Suck Leo, Marty & Blanchett deserve Oscars for this great movie 5 stars
1/25/05 bob this movie fucking sucked 1 stars
1/24/05 Janet Pokrinchak Screenplay lacks depth and focus. Just never quite gets there & drags in some places. 3 stars
1/23/05 fred flintstone not again its too painful! 1 stars
1/22/05 Rob McKeown I no longer think of him as de-crap-io, worth a look 4 stars
1/21/05 Uncle Phucker Scorsese's hardcoreness is gone but his brilliant filmmaking is not. Acting was well done. 4 stars
1/15/05 Devin Knox worst movie of the year by far 1 stars
1/11/05 Stacey Peachfuzz Some awesome sequences but rather forgettable as a whole. 3 stars
1/11/05 Obi Wan Leo's best Movie!! Great Movie....didn't seem as long 5 stars
1/10/05 Mel Stark Fantastic. A film truely not to be missed 5 stars
1/09/05 Patti m usually prefer art house films but this movie is exceptional! 5 stars
1/08/05 Gizmo It was enjoyable but I honestly expected more. Blanchett was pretty great, though. 3 stars
1/03/05 Movie Lover so long! 3 stars
1/02/05 Nisha the best performance by Mr. Leo Dicaprio 5 stars
12/31/04 ajay it was pleasent... 4 stars
12/31/04 bobbi good, but only covered a few of his accomplishments 4 stars
12/28/04 Obi Wan WOW, WOW,WOW!! I was truly amazed...I'm at a lost for words how great this movie was! 5 stars
12/24/04 Hugh Janus Leo, Marty & Blanchett deserve Oscars for this great movie 5 stars
12/24/04 Raymond Shaw highly enjoyable cinema. DiCaprio is tremendous! Miss Blanchett runs the gamut of emotions! 5 stars
12/17/04 Ray Pretty good 5 stars
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  14-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-May-2005

  19-Dec-2004 (12)

  10-Feb-2005 (M)

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