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on 13 May 2017
Thoughtful
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on 18 May 2017
Wonderful movie.
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on 11 February 2006
The opening scenes show our "Ace" GRESHAM telling his old house that "We are caning them. You will want to cane them too when your turn comes. I only hope it isn't all over before you get the opportunity"
The film revolves around, and tries to recapture, the life of a scout squadron " somewhere in France" 6 months after "Bloody April 1917" during the First World War. I first watched this film as a child in the early 80's and even at that tender age, found it rather moving given the fact that the aim is not to glamourise war but to demonise it. For RFC purists, there are a few anomilies, mainly that 76 Squadron RFC was never used as a fighter squadron. That aside, The story was well constructed, the cast impressive and nearly 20 years later, I still feel this is a film that can be watched over and again A firm favourite in mine and Pete Tarski's eyes. Thanks for reading my review.
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on 3 December 2015
This powerful portrait of life as a WW1 pilot who lives for only a week on base is just stunningly done.
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on 26 February 2014
This is a rather 'stiff' WW I drama concerning British pilots and their exploits in combat. The flying/combat scenes are pretty well done but the actions of the flyers when they are on the ground are pretty silly (lots of singing, drinking & dressing up they way only the brits can do when they are getting drunk in the officers club). This move is a weak second to the best WW I flying drama ever made in my view, "The Blue Max" with George Peppard & James Mason. Also, the TV series "Piece of Cake" does a much better job than Aces High showing the dangerous existence of WW I flyers. Both of those films are cheaper and more readily available than Aces High.
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on 25 March 2006
Aces High is one of very few films about World War One air combat. I also believe that it is the best. It is intense, yet its laid back scenes are very good as well. I've owned this on VHS for years, and have finally replaced my well worn tape with this DVD release. Whilst devoid of special features (not even a trailer), this is worth the price simply to watch this very good film. I did notice at least one little part of the film which is cut from the DVD. It is in the French restaurant scene, and a risque joke by Wade appears to have been cut out.
Otherwise, the DVD is nice. The picture is slightly blemished, put not distractingly so. On the whole, this is a very good buy, and comes highly reccomended. If you liked The Blue Max, you'll like this (in fact, some footage from the Blue Max is used in this picture).
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on 15 August 2000
Aces High is a film which, like so many great films, was adapted from a book. The film shows how futile the western front fighting was, and how men were giving of thier lives and all to often dying, for no real gain. The film features a young boy, just turned seventeen named Peter Croft, who "pulls strings" to get into the squadron which his old school house captain commands, only to find that war has made the man so hard and brittle a first, but kind in the old way he was before the war. The starting scene is excellent, with Major John Gresham (Malcom McDowell) coming back to his old school to get more recruites to feed the ever hungry western front. But the sceen interlinks with Gresham out in France, and this helps to show how contradictive propoganda is of real war. There are some interesting scene changes, like when the school master enters the school hall, and the command to stand is given, Gresham is seen to stand, and then the scene changes to him standing up in his SE5 (fighter plane) to change the ammo' drum for his Lewis Gun. Some of the prop aircraft used for filming are not the actual planes being portrayed, so the enthusiast is let down there, but the film is great barring this, and can be watched over and over again.
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on 18 February 2003
"We are caning them," says a boastful Major John Gresham of the Germans when he visits his old school, of which he had been a house captain a few years earlier. It is clear that his young and hopelessly naive audience, especially Stephen Croft, approve of his words, and the smile on his face is evidence of someone who idolizes this RFC major, a symbol of Englishness in war.
Such is the opening for this World War I film, which, like "The Blue Max" (1966) before it, examines the way in which war shapes people. Malcolm McDowell is excellent as the CO of 76 Squadron, RFC, especially where the difference in personality between the "recruiter" (at his school) and the hard-bitten veteran who has seen a good many young people like Croft die like flies - and for what? A few inches of mud in no man's land?
Gresham is appalled when Croft (Peter Firth) arrives at 76 Squadron in May 1917, for he is now about to realise that his white lies about "caning" the Germans are about to be revealed. Serving as a "link" between the two men is "Uncle", ably played by Christopher Plummer, who can see only too well the gaping void in personality. Gresham effectively dismisses Croft's attitude as gross naivety and is not at all prepared to wet-nurse him.
To add to his difficulties, Crawford (Simon Ward) is cracking up and is prepared to desert. Gresham confronts the would-be deserter with the stark reality that, if he tries anything, he wouldn't hesitate to have him shot. Yet it is clear that the major sympathizes with the lieutenant - if only everyone could just pack up and go home, there wouldn't be any more war.
The fact that "Day 1" to "Day 7" go by in just under two hours shows how time goes by so quickly that one barely has time to digest what is going on. Yet what does go on is powerful and the film-makers produce some memorable images, showing graphically the hideosity of mass mechanised warfare waged just to protect the interests of politicians and generals back home.
The sudden and fiery death of Thompson, whose body is a flaming torch when it plunges to the ground, affects Gresham deeply. The death on a mission of "Uncle" affects Croft so deeply that he shuns his fellow officers, only to be criticized by Gresham for making himself look like a laughing stock in front of the mechanics. Gresham appears still to attach a great deal to social class (as does Heidemann in "The Blue Max"), yet the fact is that anyone of any social class can be killed in war.
As with other films, this one is a highly entertaining, yet disturbing film about how life is just thrown away needlessly in the pursuit of ideals, and about how those who remain are changed forever and can never look in the world in the same way. The "safe" world of the English public school and the "real" world outside are rarely more starkly conveyed than in this film.
The grotesqueness of war is evident on Gresham's face when Croft, who appeared to grow up very quickly in the latter half of his seven-day "stay" at the squadron, is shockingly killed in a mid-air collision with an enemy fighter plane, and his grief is genuine. He then finds it hard to keep a straight face when three more young second-lieutenants with barely a few flying hours between them are paraded before him - more lambs to the slaughter of the Western Front. Kudos to McDowell for a powerful performance right from beginning to end.
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on 31 May 2004
Aces High is a gripping tale of the war over the trenches in 1917. Following Malcolm McDowell, Christopher Plummer and Peter Firth into the air prepare for some of the best biplane action filmed in Britain. Though not accurate in every way (don't look too closely at the SE5s) it is still a great war film that captures the pluck and daring of the British knights of the air.
2nd Lieutenant Croft is assigned to Maj. Gresham's 76 Squadron RFC and has to deal with the death of comrades and squadron life in the Great War. With 15 hours training (4 of them on SE5s!) he must quickly adapt to the realities of aerial warfare and the changes brought on by war in his idol and former school house captain Maj. Gresham. If you've seen Blackadder 4 then think 20 minuters and you're on the mark.
The DVD release is slightly disappointing, hence the rating, as it has no special features whatsoever. Only a chapter menu, actually. The sound is mono, the picture quality average. Basically, buy it for the film: that's what I did and I haven't regretted it.
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on 3 February 2015
As the saying goes (if it is not broken, do not fix it).
I own the essential war collection copy on dvd, and with upscaling the picture is natural and vibrant.
In the blu ray version the picture is totally washed out with over use of digital noise correction.
Nothing about it seems right so stick with your dvd copy.
the extras though are very well done and interesting
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