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Overall Rating
4.23

Awesome51.61%
Worth A Look: 32.26%
Average: 6.45%
Pretty Bad: 6.45%
Total Crap: 3.23%

1 review, 25 user ratings


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Memphis Belle
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by Charles Tatum

"Da Bomber"
5 stars

Michael Caton-Jones recreates the last mission of a B-17 bomber, populating the film with a likable cast and exciting action sequences.

The film opens as John Lithgow plans to make the plane's crew heroes when the return from their twenty-fifth and final mission. If you make it to twenty-five, then you are allowed to go home. The young captain, Matthew Modine, leads an even younger cast. We are so used to seeing grown men in their mid-thirties in these roles, it is refreshing to see age appropriate men in their early twenties here. My grandfather, a navigator on a cargo plane, was just over twenty during the war.

The cast has quite a few familiar faces including Eric Stoltz, Courtney Gains, D.B. Sweeney, Sean Astin, Billy Zane, Tate Donovan, David Strathairn, and Harry Connick, Jr. The film takes place over the course twenty-four hours, the most eventful in the characters' lives. Lithgow builds them up into believing everything will be wonderful when they return, but the men should be concentrating on their jobs and returning in the first place.

The squadron of bombers take off, and the crew run into German fighters, as well as a concealed target that they must make a couple of runs at in a storm of antiaircraft fire. I cannot give away too much of what happens without spoiling the ending, but the crew watches as other American planes are shot down, and suffer through a hungover navigator, a hotshot copilot, and assorted tiffs and fights over lost lucky charms.

My one concern here is that since this is the last mission, the film makers made a whole lot of things happen that otherwise may not have happened. The crew all solve their personal problems on this flight, enemies become friends again, and yet we still have time to finish with an over the top nailbiter of a landing.

Caton-Jones captures the English countryside beautifully, and the cramped airplane interiors reminded me of Wolfgang Petersen's "Das Boot." A special kudos would have to go the special effects team, who do an outstanding job. Another great job is done by the actors in the flying sequences, as they must act with oxygen masks over their faces through much of the film. It is hard to convey your feelings using just your eyes and the tone of your voice, but everyone here does an excellent job.

"Memphis Belle" is not a filmed history lesson, but an exciting and well done action film, and one of the best aviation war films ever done. I highly recommend it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=904&reviewer=325
originally posted: 03/27/03 11:40:15
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User Comments

5/25/12 M Raghavan A good "coming of age" film. It reminds us to honor our unsung heroes. 4 stars
12/15/10 Steve Hock Amazing movie. Amazing grace. 5 stars
11/13/10 Michael conneely Really comes alive once Memphis Belle takes off. Modine stands out. Spirited production. 5 stars
8/13/06 Sepi53 GREAT WW2 film 5 stars
5/16/05 John Wright I found this film both believable and moving. 4 stars
4/04/05 Ric Some good aviation thrills, but the bad acting and writing sink it. 2 stars
2/22/05 EAC Great movie with an interesting perspective about the role of technology in warfare. 5 stars
12/20/04 Dan Great Movie 5 stars
11/01/04 Charles S. Lewis The "Belle" did exist... Outstanding film! Worthy of anyones collection. 5 stars
9/19/04 Janet Rubottom Did this movie have two different endings? 4 stars
5/18/04 Melodee its aight. not historically accurate in some parts but still good-billy zane is FINE. 4 stars
1/19/04 sarah im a fanatic i watch it once a week at least - the actors fit the roles perfect - excellent 5 stars
9/28/03 Kyle Generally I don't usually care for "war movies" but I make an exception for this one. A++ 5 stars
5/26/03 Tom Movie built on cliches 1 stars
5/22/03 Simon Paul An excellent capture of the heroism of those who flew in B-17's during World War II 5 stars
1/26/03 T-man totally ficticious story, but does a good job of touching on the hell of the air war WWII 4 stars
9/02/02 y2mckay Decent WW2 saga with impressive air battles. Based on a true story? 4 stars
5/10/02 R.W. Welch OK semi-documentary type war pic, doesn't build a lot of tension. 3 stars
6/05/01 Just like a Wop . . . This was my best movie. I'm Billy Zane. 5 stars
2/04/01 Invader This movie isnt perfect but has an attempt in trying to convey the feelings of the time 4 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy Not as good as the WWII propaganda doc. it was(loosely)based on. 2 stars
3/22/99 A. M. Could have used some fine tuning. 4 stars
2/07/99 Don Wilson It some good air battles it in, not a real drastic movie. 4 stars
11/13/98 Jules I was impressed that none of the crew died. Excellent FX and a great subject matter. 4 stars
9/15/98 tessSpork not very deep-short-just for entertainment movie with obvious happy ending 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Oct-1990 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-May-1998

UK
  N/A

Australia
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