Movie Review: Flyboys

>What is it, exactly, that makes a movie into a blockbuster? Is it the name-brand actors that populate the cast, Like Oceans 11 and 12? Is it an engaging story that captivates the audience long before the movie is made, like Titanic? Is it the millions of dollars the studio pours into pre-release marketing in hopes of a record-breaking opening, like Happy Feet? Well, it’s a shame, but for some reason Flyboys seems to have missed most, if not all of these opportunities.

Flyboys is a World War I era film centered around Blaine Rawlings, played by James Franco (Spider-Man, Tristan and Isolde), who looses his ranch in Texas to creditors and is left with nobody and nowhere to go, so he decides to go to France to become a biplane pilot before the United States had officially entered the war.

When Blaine arrives, he quickly bonds with fellow Americans who have joined up with France’s Air Force for various reasons but who all must quickly learn how to trust each other as they learn how to use the new invention called an “airplane” in a wartime setting.

Quite a few things impressed me about this movie, primarily how well it was served by the modern special effects technology of our time. The portrayal of the dogfights conveyed well how naked these pilots were up in the sky with no canopy over their head, nothing much thicker than paper around them, and no parachutes to escape with if they should go down. All of this reinforced to me how dangerous these aerial dogfights actually were.

Another great thing about this movie was how true to the period the relationships seemed. In the last few years, Hollywood has seen fit to take historical events and put fictional characters in them to tell the story, such as Titanic, U-571, and Pearl Harbor. The problem with this is that in the process they usually introduce modern sensibilities into these storylines that don’t always mesh with the historical setting. I was refreshed that the romantic plot in Flyboys was every bit as innocent and noble as I would have expected people to act in 1910.

What made this movie even more meaningful to me was that, at the end, they updated us on what happened to the characters after the story portrayed in the movie was over—even showing a picture of the actual people portrayed! I had no idea that this movie was based on a true story and people and was left scratching my head as to why a bigger deal of that wasn’t made when the movie was promoted.

Ultimately, I’m sorry that Flyboys didn’t do better at the box office, because I think everyone really missed out on, not only a great ride, but a great story about a world that was waking up to a new century with new technologies and ideas. I would definitely recommend this film.

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