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Overall Rating
3.83

Awesome35.12%
Worth A Look35.12%
Average: 15.48%
Pretty Bad: 6.55%
Total Crap: 7.74%

12 reviews, 96 user ratings


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Aviator, The (2004)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Scorsese's tribute to obsession and old Hollywood."
4 stars

Some directors are drawn to obsessive heroes who sink everything into their dreams or goals; the heroes are usually onscreen surrogates for the directors. Steven Spielberg had 'Schindler's List,' Francis Coppola had 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream,' Michael Cimino hungered for years to make a movie version of 'The Fountainhead.' Martin Scorsese's 'The Aviator' fits snugly into this category.

Scorsese, perhaps cinema's greatest living obsessive-compulsive director now that Stanley Kubrick is dead, is a natural match for Howard Hughes, the billionaire crackpot and/or visionary (depending on your view). Hughes lived every filmmaker's dream, pouring unprecedented thousands of his own cash into the flying epic Hell's Angels, escorting ladies like Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn to premieres, and focusing relentlessly on his fantasy -- to build the best airplanes ever -- even when everyone else thinks he's nuts.

Leonardo DiCaprio seems to have become for Scorsese what Tom Hanks has become for Spielberg -- a go-to guy for dependable charisma (DiCaprio is signed on for Scorsese's next film as well). As Howard Hughes, DiCaprio is allowed to hit far more notes than he did as the sullen lead in Scorsese's Gangs of New York. His Howard is a go-getter, a man who responds to a roadblock by throwing money at it. Yet all his riches can't insulate him from his inner demons -- his terror of germs, instilled in him (or so John Logan's script has it) by his mother. Gradually over the course of the movie's two hours and forty-nine minutes (which streak by until the somewhat talky finale), DiCaprio shows us the dark side of obsessiveness, the habitual hand-washing, the jars of urine lined up neatly.

This is a jittery epic, always on the move; its energy matches Howard's, and when he meets Katharine Hepburn we can see why they click so well and why they don't last together -- Cate Blanchett nails Hepburn's haughty nervous energy, which we see is a cover for her insecurity around her pompously intellectual Connecticut family. (You can also understand why she eventually gave her heart to the gruff, amiable pillow Spencer Tracy, who was able to calm her down.) The movie's Howard loves to achieve, but dislikes the limelight; he'd much rather be up in the cockpit of one of his planes, breaking a speed record or cranking his own camera during the shooting of a dogfight scene in Hell's Angels. Scorsese's admiration for Hughes is palpable -- here's a guy who got up in a plane and shot his own footage for the picture he was producing.

The Aviator bogs down a bit when it gets into the conflict between Hughes' TWA and the rival Pan Am, run by a pipe-puffing Alec Baldwin with devious senator Alan Alda in his pocket. Howard is crucified in the press for spending wartime money on planes that wouldn't fly, leading to a rather dry hearing in which Howard practically produces a pie chart and pointer to defend himself. The movie's populist theme is that the corrupt rich guys are trying to stomp the little guy -- some little guy! Hughes was a millionaire at age eighteen, inheriting his father's oil drill company that afforded him $2 million a year. We don't really care whether Howard's name is smeared in the papers; we care more about whether he can beat down his germophobia long enough to make himself presentable. In short, his inner conflict is a lot more compelling than two guys being mean to him.

This is Scorsese's most engaged and engaging filmmaking in a while; it feels like an epic without strain. As soon as the first nightclub scene hits the screen, you know Scorsese is in an enchanted milieu -- big-band music, movie stars milling about (Jude Law contributes a fun few minutes as Errol Flynn, who of course gets into a fight).

'The Aviator' is a tribute to Hollywood and an outsider who wanted to be part of it, but whose vision was grander than Hollywood. It ends on a note of triumph, ignoring Hughes' final hermetic decades (Jonathan Demme's 'Melvin and Howard,' in which Hughes turns up in the desert and leaves millions of dollars to a gas-station owner, would be a good follow-up to 'The Aviator'). But Scorsese has made the movie he wanted, about the hero whose story he wanted to tell.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11346&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/01/07 14:45:31
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User Comments

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
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT AN AIR BRUSHED PORTRAIT OF A REPULSIVE BILLIONAIRE 1 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
6/26/05 em BOOOOOORRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIING 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 wanted...bio 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-May-2005

UK
  19-Dec-2004 (12)

Australia
  10-Feb-2005 (M)




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