June 18, 2007

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Flyboys (2006).

"Based on the true story" of a bunch of Americans who joined the Lafayette Escadrille in 1916 to help the Frogs fight the Boche, this movie basically stalls on take-off. Even rolling with the stereotypical cast o' volunteers - the cowboy running from the law, the black boxer standing up for freedom, the wastrel rich kid who needs to prove himself a man to his father, the Jebus freak - the story deals with their development so thinly and perfunctorily that you have a hard time telling them apart or even really caring much which is which. There's also a love interest, of sorts, but even that seems rayther flat and uninteresting. Seeing as this movie clocks in at nearly 2 1/2 hours, there should have been ample runway room to generate enough power to put some lift into the thing.

I suppose the big draw of the movie is supposed to be the coo-el effects. Well, I'm sorry: CGI is all very well for spaceships n' stuff, but for WWI aeroplanes it looks cheesy and artificial. Why not get some guys up in the real things to hotdog them around the sky a bit like they did for Tora! Tora! Tora!, which to this day has, I believe, the best dang aerobatic scenes of any war movie ever made. As for realism, I say nothing: Although I know a good bit about WWII aircraft, I really know next to nothing about their WWI counterparts. Judging from some of the comments I've seen, however, the film is rife with inaccuracies.

In short, Flyboys was underpowered, listless and boring. The only thing that got my attention was how much the commander, Captain Thenault (played by Jean Reno), looked like Joe Flaherty. I kept expecting (and hoping) that he would break into a Count Floyd routine.

Alas, no such luck.

Robbo's recommendation: One Yip! out of five. I suppose if you just want to see the battles - less than half an hour all told - you could fast-forward through the DVD. But even then, I'd say it's probably not worth the energy. Want WWI flyboy drama? Read Derek Robinson's Goshawk Squadron.

UPDATE: Aaaaaand, as long as I mentioned him, how bout a little bit o' the real Count Floyd?

Reeeeally scary, huh kids?

Posted by Robert at June 18, 2007 11:09 AM | TrackBack

That's a shame. I was so hoping that would be a good movie.

Posted by: Hucbald at June 18, 2007 12:04 PM

When the trailers showed the biplanes bursting into big balls of fire I knew it was going to suck. Those planes didn't really do that.

Ahem, for WWI flyboy drama celluloid style, start with The Blue Max (1966). I've also heard good things about Hell's Angels (1930. Also Wings (1927)

Posted by: rbj at June 18, 2007 12:47 PM

Blue Max is the one with George Peppard, isn't it? I saw that years and years ago. Perhaps it's time to toss it in the queue.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 18, 2007 02:29 PM

That's the one. Also with Ursula Andress, yum. Bit of a romance movie as well which could score well on the domestic front.

Posted by: rbj at June 18, 2007 02:46 PM

"The Blue Max" is a good one, and I would also consider putting "Aces High" in your rotation as well. 1976 movie, with a proper British cast (plus Ray Miland too!) highlighted by Malcolm McDowell & Christopher Plummer. I don't think it's quite as good of a flick as "The Blue Max", but it's still a pretty good WW1 airplane flick. Plus, according to the IMDB listing, at least one scene from "Aces .." was stock footage from "..Max".

Of course, there's a very distant connection to "The Great Waldo Pepper" as well. No ACTUAL WW1 combat footage, but Redford did go up against the old German ace with live ammo during the climactic scene when they were filming a movie together.

Posted by: Russ from Winterset at June 18, 2007 09:13 PM

I almost forgot:


Posted by: Russ from Winterset at June 18, 2007 09:14 PM

Though not strictly a WW I movie, The Great Waldo Pepper is a good biplane flying movie "thing." And, I'm not just saying that because my last name's Pepper, either.

And yes, The Blue Max is wonderful. I remember watching that at a drive-in with my dad as a kid (My dad was a USAF pilot in WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam). I should snag that.

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