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Overall Rating
3.83

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 Beth Gilligan

"Scorcese's visual flair props up this disappointingly opaque biopic."
3 stars

Despite the best efforts of its director, The Aviator (2004) never manages to overcome the limitations of its actors and its genre.

When Oscar nomination time rolls around, The Aviator will undoubtedly find itself at the top of the heap, with insiders whispering about whether this will be the year that director Martin Scorcese finally gets to make his way up to podium to collect his long-deserved statuette. In the weeks leading up to this hallowed event, the pundits will be called in to deliver their usual droning commentary about how Hitchcock never received an Academy Award for Best Director, nor did Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and a host of Hollywood heavyweights whose names have endured in cinema history far longer than many of those who have received the golden trinkets.

Although this awards chatter is undoubtedly part of the media blitz orchestrated by the studios to create buzz (and in turn, greater profits) for their product, it is telling that most of the discussion surrounding The Aviator seems to revolve around Marty’s Oscar chances, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett’s performances, and what Howard Hughes was “really” like rather than the substance of the film itself. The chief reason for this may well be that The Aviator, while gorgeous to look at, is wholly lacking in substance. Throughout the film, we are offered glimpses into Howard Hughes’s private world, but they seem fragmentary at best, working exceedingly well on their own but oftentimes failing to find place for themselves in the movie at large.

One of the most obvious problems is the source material – Hughes was, almost by definition, an enigmatic character, so any filmmaker who wishes to delve into his life is going to have his work cut out for him. While this is not the first time Hughes has been given the biopic treatment (Tommy Lee Jones played him the 1977 TV movie The Amazing Howard Hughes, and a vast array of characters, ranging from the William Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever to George Peppard’s ambitious industrialist in The Carpetbaggers, are rumored to have been based on him), his most enduring incarnation remains Jason Robards’s loony, long-haired Lear of the desert in Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard (1980). Robards is onscreen for no more than twenty minutes, but manages to make more of an impression than DiCaprio does in The Aviator’s entire 170-minute running time.

DiCaprio has always excelled at playing crazy, which suits him well in the film’s later scenes, but he has trouble grasping his character during the bulk of the picture. Cate Blanchett’s performance as Katharine Hepburn is similarly uneven, though her role is equally if not more difficult than DiCaprio’s. As Blanchett acknowledged in a recent interview in The New York Times, Hepburn was in many ways a caricature of herself, which makes the task of playing her as a flesh-and-blood human being a daunting challenge. She is quietly effective in certain scenes, but in others her characterization seems forced, like she can’t quite swallow all the odd New England colloquialisms she’s made to spit out in order to channel Hepburn’s trademark brashness.

Scorcese, on the other hand, is clearly at the top of his game when it comes to technical skill. With the help of longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker and cinematographer Robert Richardson, he crafts a loving tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age. His steady diet of classic films pays off in spades here, with each decade represented in The Aviator filmed in a manner than cannot help but recall the movies of the same era.

Scorcese’s movies can never be accused of lacking heart, for the man behind them has a bottomless pit of curiosity and love for the cinema, but his greatest strengths as a director emerge when he has a greater emotional investment in the material at hand (which he does not seem to here), and when he is working with actors who have a clearer understanding of his vision.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11346&reviewer=379
originally posted: 01/13/05 08:36:06
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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
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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