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Overall Rating
3.21

Awesome: 6.38%
Worth A Look42.55%
Average: 31.91%
Pretty Bad: 4.26%
Total Crap: 14.89%

4 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Flyboys
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by Peter Sobczynski

"So Much For Franco-American Relations"
1 stars

No doubt launched into production as soon as people began oohing and aahing over the opening third of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator”–the part that centered on the production of the WW I epic “Hell’s Angels” and featured hellacious recreations of the biplane battles that Howard Hughes staged for the cameras–“Flyboys” tells the story of the Lafayette Escradille, a division of the French military consisting of Americans who, in the days before official U.S. involvement in the way, took to the air as fighter pilots to beat back the German army. Although the subject matter may seem a little unusual for a contemporary film (although I recall at least one film made on the subject, “Lafayette Escradille,” best known today for featuring the young Clint Eastwood in a supporting role), don’t worry–director Tony Bill and the various screenwriters have gone to great lengths to make it seem as contrived and predictable as possible.

There is a rebellious-yet-hunky newcomer (James Franco, still channeling James Dean, though this time with a Southern drawl that disappears every other scene), a seen-it-all veteran (Martin Henderson, inexplicably channeling the spirit of Ed Burns) and a rag-tag group of volunteers that come equipped with bravery, determination and a single internal emotional conflict. Here, one has a mysterious past that is somehow connected with his past life in Wisconsin. One is a bigoted snob with daddy issues. One is black and nothing else. One can’t hit the broad side of a barn with his machine guns and one gets the shakes after a particularly harrowing round of combat. I probably don’t need to tell you that each of these problems is overcome as quickly and cleanly as possible–this revelation will presumably come as much of a surprise as the revelation that their commander is played by none other than Jean Reno, Hollywood’s go-to guy when a taciturn Frenchman is required.

In a film like “Flyboys,” it is inevitable that the scenes on the ground are by far the weakest element and the ones on display here are especially draggy–the worst is the bland romance between Franco and French cutie Jennifer Decker, a relationship rendered startlingly uninteresting by their lack of any real chemistry (they both pitch woo as is English is their second or third language) and by the inescapable fact that Decker, while lovely, cannot act for beans. (Someone should have pointed out to her that if she is in a scene where she is shot, she might want to suggest that to the audience by offering some–any!–kind of reaction.) The problem is that the scenes up in the air are lacking as well–the CGI air battles have the unconvincing air of a middle-of-the-road video game and the big climactic battle feels like an afterthought as it winds up coming on 20 minutes after the film’s only exciting visual set-piece (a dogfight involving an enormous German zeppelin).

Although there are a few laughs to be had here and there–some deliberate (Franco crash-lands his craft and is rescued by the employees of a local brothel) and some inadvertent (the cutie informs Franco that her family “died in an explosion”–which isn’t that funny until you see where she is standing when she says it)–and it is kind of cool to see some good old-fashioned dogfighting back on the silver screen, “Flyboys” is an overstuffed (coming in at 140 minutes) and undernourished flying circus that lacks the dramatic heft and entertainment value of Snoopy fighting the Red Baron

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15245&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/22/06 14:17:40
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User Comments

12/02/10 Jeff Wilder Underrated WWI pic. I actually like this better than Top Gun. 4 stars
9/28/09 KingNeutron 4/5 *s - great effects, decent plot 4 stars
12/02/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 4 stars
7/21/08 RAJESH NS EXCELLENT MOVIE .. IT IS LIFE OF AVIATOR .. 4 stars
3/14/08 Cris great movie, amazing special effects 5 stars
9/10/07 Mike Good movie, although the love story did take away too much time from the dogfights. 4 stars
7/17/07 Matt WW1 has become Hollywood's forgotten war. This return to the fold is well worth watching. 4 stars
4/17/07 quin very good 4 stars
3/15/07 Sombke Enjoy the look and the novelty... suspend some of the non-sensicals 4 stars
2/19/07 Mike Somebody please slap me for renting this. YAWN 1 stars
2/04/07 zaw pretty good dogfights, waste of time romance crap, wrong music at times. 2 stars
10/30/06 Rodger Great 5 stars
10/24/06 Real_Pilot Wish they used the real names of the pilots. The Black Pilots story is a movie in itself. 4 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Unabashedly old-fashioned, w/ impressive aerial sequences. Should be shorter, lose romance. 3 stars
10/15/06 Ron Newbold Cool dogfights - totally inaccurate aircraft but cool dogfights 4 stars
10/14/06 michael worth checking out 5 stars
10/11/06 Anthony Feor It a very average film, however, how many world war one movies are out there today? 3 stars
10/03/06 David Greenwood EXACTLY what you want in movie on WW 1. 4 stars
10/01/06 michael pretty good but might want to wait on the dvd to come out 4 stars
9/29/06 Bob Cather The scenes of dogfights are right ; the script and plot are not. 3 stars
9/29/06 Skeet Letzmer Silly video-game dogfight scenes can't cover for lame script and wooden characters 2 stars
9/28/06 Nicholas Vafiadis Excellent Dogfight Sceens. Worth the price of a ticket 4 stars
9/27/06 Mohobbit The best air battle scenes I have ever seen.A very good movie. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Jan-2007

UK
  01-Jun-2007 (12A)
  DVD: 08-Oct-2007

Australia
  15-Feb-2007


Directed by
  Tony Bill

Written by
  Blake Evans

Cast
  James Franco
  Martin Henderson
  Jean Reno
  Jennifer Decker
  David Ellison
  Tchéky Karyo



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