Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Movie review: Flyboys

A friend of mine mentioned in a recent review how the people she watched a movie with could affect her opinion of it. Since I watch 75 - 80% of movies by myself, I wonder if that also influences my take on a given movie. Of course, going solo also means that I watch movies that some folks might not be willing to watch and it also means that the movie has to be more entertaining on its own.

Flyboys is one of those movies that I really like, but most people won't enjoy it as much as I did. I can be very forgiving to movie that keeps my attention and keeps me amused. That's not to say that Flyboys is a bad movie that needs lots of forgiveness, but it won't be everyone's cup of tea.

Minor spoilers after the jump.

A lot of the characters follow the war movie cliche template, and not a lot of time is spent developing them, because just like a lot of WW I pilots, they die quickly. But you have Guy Who Falls For Local Girl, Bad Ass With a Haunted Past, Rich Guy Trying To Be a Man, The Redeemed Coward, and Minority Who Perseveres Despite Racist Assholes. Not to mention Honorable Bad Guy and Scumbag Asshole Bad Guy.

It's not that the actors play their characters like cardboard cutouts, but if you've watched enough movies you know the drill. The writers weren't terribly original, I could see most of the plot developments as soon as they were foreshadowed. Though they did avoid a classic cliche at the end, presumably to stay true to the original "true story".

Now for the good... if you like period movies like I do, you'll like this movie. It gives us a look at a time period little used by moviemakers, probably because it wasn't as glamourous and easier to relate to like the WWII era.

If you like good action sequences, you'll love the dogfights. Not only is the action good, overall the effects are great, with a mix of CGI and live planes. The combat sequences will give you a new respect for the pilots of that era. They were literally the knights of their time, but they had no armor, their lances were machine guns, and their deaths were often gruesome. The planes offered no protection and they have no parachutes. When the pilots are issued their sidearms, it is pointed out that it may be preferably to use their own gun than ride a burning plane to the ground.

Overall I rate Flyboys 3.5 WWI Ace Biplane Flying Monkeys. I'll probably get it on DVD, but I doubt it'll be something my friends will clamor to see.


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