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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a great movie, but very watchable
This is a story based on true events, about American volunteers who came to fight in France before their country entered the war and who became fighter pilots in the, now legendary, Escadrille Lafayette. I am a little surprised by the very poor reviews this movie is getting, because I rather liked it, although I am the first to recognise that it could be much, much...
Published on 16 Oct 2007 by Maciej

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Distinctly Earthbound
Flyboys is rather a disappointment even if you're not expecting much. The Lafayette Escadrille - a French squadron of American pilots who fought in the First World War before the USA entered the conflict - is a great subject for a film, but somehow keeps on falling short. William Wellman's semi-autobiographical Lafayette Escadrille was so brutally re-edited by the studio...
Published on 28 Nov 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Distinctly Earthbound, 28 Nov 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
Flyboys is rather a disappointment even if you're not expecting much. The Lafayette Escadrille - a French squadron of American pilots who fought in the First World War before the USA entered the conflict - is a great subject for a film, but somehow keeps on falling short. William Wellman's semi-autobiographical Lafayette Escadrille was so brutally re-edited by the studio that he never made another film, yet Tony Bill's film feels like it could have done with a firmer hand somewhere down the line. Rather than a gritty, brutally realistic war movie it harks back to silent cinema and WW2 flagwavers, concentrating on often-cartoonish heroics by one-dimensional characters unmemorably played by a bland cast. With a charismatic star in the lead this might not have been an insurmountable problem, but with only Jean Reno as their commander providing any star quality the film is often as flat as the ill-advised digital photography that makes much of the film look like a Turner TV movie at times. Even on the small screen its lack of detail, depth and limited colour range are distractingly problematic. It doesn't make particularly good use of its 138-minute running time and there's surprisingly little sense of time or place either. The characters' attitudes are often more late than early-20th century while its attitude to accuracy is schizophrenic: it gets a lot of pertinent small details right while larger ones slip by unchecked if they look cool enough (if the film is to be believed, the German air force consisted almost entirely of red triplanes).

As vanity projects go (the film was allegedly largely financed by co-star David Ellison's billionaire father), it's certainly not as disastrous as Gunbus/Sky Bandits, but like that forgotten box-office fiasco it suffers from trying to make an old-fashioned gung ho adventure set in the one war in which such comic book heroics have never seemed at home. Using the industrial killing fields of the first modern war as a backdrop for an action movie seems almost like setting The Great Escape in Auschwitz. But even ignoring that, it fails to work on its own terms as a simple adventure story. There's far too much unconvincing melodrama, be it James Franco carrying out an unlikely rescue of a pilot crashed in No Man's Land or an even more unlikely rescue of his sweetheart and her siblings from behind German lines. However, even these cannot prepare you for the absurdity of the way he finally takes on the dastardly homicidal Hun in the underwhelming finale: all that's missing is Franco saying "Sayonara, sucker!" It's not that such things couldn't or didn't happen as that the film fails to sell them in a more cynical age.

But the biggest problem is the aerial scenes, primarily dependent on Cgi. You may not always be able to see the joins, but it's often curiously unconvincing as weightless planes defy the laws of aerodynamics for a cool shot, with the mayhem often cut short because computer-rendering time is so expensive. The camera may be able to get right in the thick of the action, but you never once feel like you're flying with the characters and it's never as impressive as the kind of footage the likes of Skeets Kelly and Johnny Jordan were able to get in the The Blue Max and Aces High, let alone earlier classics like Wings and The Dawn Patrol. And there's the problem that when you know it's just pixels rather than real people in real planes, all sense of danger and peril is gone. CGI may be easier and safer, but who says it SHOULD be easier? The choreography of the dogfights isn't that impressive either - for the first half of the film adequate seems to be the aim, with only a sequence where the pilots take on German planes strafing refugee columns really catching fire and living up to its potential. Even an attack on a Zeppelin seems more okay than inspired. Certainly there's nothing in the film to compare to the dazzling but brief Hell's Angels scenes in The Aviator. Adding to the general lack of inspiration is Trevor Rabin's score, which wears the film's temp track proudly on its sleeve - parts of it follow The Patriot so closely that you wonder why they didn't just give John Williams a screen credit of his own.

It's watchable enough if you're in an undemanding mood, and Jennifer Decker makes an appealing leading lady, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the material would have worked better as a weekly TV series - though, if it were anything like this film, one that would probably be cancelled after a handful of episodes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An interesting bit of history that is often forgotten summed in up a really, really cliche movie, 5 Mar 2014
This review is from: Flyboys [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I picked this movie for two reasons. Firstly, I have always loved biplanes and biplane warfare and, as usual, this title looked sad and lonely on Amazon Instant Watch and in need of a review. So here we are.

The only really positive thing I can find to say about this movie is that it happens to be about a fascinating period of history. If you think about it flying around in a rickety wooden plane is a pretty daring thing to do even if people aren't shooting at you. That and the inevitable thoughts of Snoopy and his Snoopwith Camel make WWI aviation a very attractive topic.

No, the problem comes in right about the time the movie starts. If there's a standard war movie cliche line or shot that is laying about to be redone this movie redoes it. Often. And badly. You've got the wistful French girl looking to the sky as planes fly overhead. You've got the cockpit to cockpit waves goodbye as one pilot's plane goes down in flames. Everything that you've seen in every war movie before, you see here again. I guess you can look at this as a good retrospective of other cheesy war films if you really wanted to stretch it.

Also, a note on special effects. Considering when this movie was made, the CGI in this sucker are pretty abominable. Leave aside for a moment the completely bogus dogfights with dozens of fliers in undisturbed tight formation while anti-aircraft fire belches into the sky around them. Leave aside the numerical failure as 20 planes go out, 5 planes come back and somehow only 3 pilots were lost. As if that was not enough, the whole thing is littered with those special effects that make you think, "Hmm. They put that in just so it would look 3D in the theatre version of the film." It's a lot of visual drama just for the sake of visual drama.

In summary, totally unwatchable and beyond my ability to tolerate for more than an hour. I had such high hopes but sadly every single one of them was utterly disappointed by this film. Bah.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a great movie, but very watchable, 16 Oct 2007
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
This is a story based on true events, about American volunteers who came to fight in France before their country entered the war and who became fighter pilots in the, now legendary, Escadrille Lafayette. I am a little surprised by the very poor reviews this movie is getting, because I rather liked it, although I am the first to recognise that it could be much, much better.

The strong point of this movie are the computer generated planes and air fights. WW I dogfights were a great movie material, because of their short range personal character - in fact, strangely enough, they remind me a little of the STAR WARS fights between X-Wings and TIE fighters. Here the planes look like real ones and the effect is great for any fan of aviation: Nieuport and Fokker fighters, Handley-Page and Gotha bombers and the gigantic L32 Zeppelin, they all give a great show. The movie is quite realistic and stresses well the incredibly idiotic decision of allied high command to NOT provide pilots with parachutes (Germans, Austrians, Bulgarians and even Turks had them, from the beginning of the war) on the incredible assumption, that pilots will jump from their planes at the first occasion! That explains why the casualty rates amongst French, British, Belgian, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian and American air men were so high.

There are some very weak spots. Relations between pilots and especially all the conflicts are too pinky easy and sweet, which takes away most of the realism. The main hero accomplishes alone all the most incredible things, the rest of the unit being mostly his sidekicks. There is of course a lot of typically American references of sons trying to fit their fathers shoes... The ending is a little too previsible. The love story is going nowhere and we do not even know why. There is only one really bad guy in the movie and of course he is German, etc. etc.

Jean Reno indeed is not very much used but this is a nice effort from Hollywood to hire a French to play a French officer, rather than just use an American and make him speak with a French accent... On this point, let's stress that this movie is a welcome pause in French bashing, which seems to be a kind of national sport in Hollywood this last years...

But all those weak points notwithstanding, I forgive to this movie a lot, for the scenes, when the Escadrille Lafayette takes off and is flying over the beautiful French landscapes, together with a flight of cranes... And then there is this unique scene, when a whole horde of red painted Fokkers emerges from the sunlight to butcher the unsuspecting American rookies, with the Black Falcon in the lead. Yes, you guessed right, the Black Falcon is the plane of ZE BAD GUY.

There is also some good humor in "Flyboys" - a mascot lion named Whiskey, an American pilot who simply can not shoot straight no matters how much he tries, until - well no, no hints here, you will see by yourself. And then there are also decorations of the planes, with my favorite being a seriously deranged woodpecker.

This is a nice war movie, and a must if you are a fan of aviation and can simply not resist the sight of a flight of Fokkers going after some heavy Handley-Page bombers...
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LIKE A TV MOVIE BUT WAIT ............, 11 Oct 2007
This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
STRANGE FILM THIS COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER BUT THERE ARE MOMENTS OF
BRILLIANCE. I WOULD CALL THIS THE TV VERSION OF SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. I AGREE THAT IT DOES NOT GRAB YOU LIKE MOST FILMS DO BUT YOU STILL THINK ABOUT THE FILM AT THE END. WOULD I WATCH IT AGAIN ??? YES !!!!! A BIT CRINGY IN PLACES BUT I HAVE SEEN WORSE. I WOULD ADVISE WAITING UNTIL SOMEONE SELLS ONE FOR £5.00 OR UNDER THEN BUY IT. THIS WAS THE FIRST DVD
I BOUGHT ON THE DAY OF RELEASE EVER BUT I AM STILL GLAD I BOUGHT IT !
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Brave and noble men portrayed in a laughable manner, 4 Jan 2008
By 
David Ap Evans (Sidcup, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
With all the dross in modern cinema, the story of the Lafayette Escadrille is truely an amazing story to tell and this is such a waste of an opportunity. At times this film does manage to put across the valour and courage of the Americans who crossed the Atlantic to take part in the "war to end all wars" before their countrymen took part but to be honest the film grated on three fronts.

1. Historical innacuracies - for anyone with little more than a passing interest in World War One the film will be difficult to watch without ridiculing the innacuracies. Too many to list, aircraft appearing at unlikely times of the war (the Fokker Triplane entered the frey after this film closes!!) etc etc but perhaps the worst example was the daylight Zepplin Raid on Paris which sees the Zepplin escorted by scores of Triplanes, all painted red. It is like watching Star Wars.

2. Outrageous sentimentality - two examples - Rawlings (the lead charactor) landing in no mans land to save a crashed pal trapped there and the rescue of his damsel. Both hilarious. Both improbable. Both unnecessary.

3. "Hun Frightfulness". There are a number of examples of this - the worst is when a flight of red triplanes attacks a column of refugees. Were German Scouts really engaged in this at that stage of the war?? (Or indeed any stage)?

All that said - just to see some of these wonderful aircraft flying (albeit often with the help of CGI) makes some of the above forgivable. And Jean Reno is splendid as ever! My biggest regret is the failure of the makers to show what a truely wonderful plane the Fokker Triplane was when in the hands of the relatively small number of pilots who actually got to fly it! Try reading about the accounts of Werner Voss's death at the hands of 56 Squadron - now is there a film maker brave enough to make a film about Voss's life????
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete tosh but enjoyable, 16 July 2008
This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
If you are looking for historical accuracy and realistic flying sequences this is not for you.

However as escapism masquerading as a history lesson then this is a very watchable movie.

The best way to enjoy this film is to revert to a prepubescent mind set ignore the (thankfully few) gooey human interest bits and let yourself go for a rip rawing seat of the pants Biggelesesk yarn.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 11 July 2014
By 
G. Ashall - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
A good oldie
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Flyboys [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
thank you
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1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish, 19 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
I'm going to go straight to the point. I hate this because it is full of every war cliché available and it is boring.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a watch, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Flyboys [DVD] (DVD)
If you haven't seen this its worth a watch. I bought this not expecting much and I was surprised, its a great film and the CGI is superb. The extras a worth it too.
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