Knights of the Sky

by Alan Rapp on September 22, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Flyboys
  • IMDb: link

Flyboys main problem is it’s just too Hollywood.  It’s too nice, it’s too stylish, and it’s just too damn clean.  Despite being based on a real story the film feels Hollywood fake, which is a problem.  Still the actors do what they can with the script and find a way to make a good, if not particularly memorable, film.

WWI is raging across Europe and America stands idly by.  A group of young Americans, of different backgrounds, from different states, and for different reasons, travel to France to join the fight.  They volunteer for the Lafayette Escadrille, an elite fighter pilot division, to take on the German air force.

The characters in the film are your standard army film group.  There’s the best of the group Blaine Rawlings (James Franco) who is burdened with a conscience and falls for a local woman (Jennifer Decker).  There’s the black fighter (Abdul Salis) who doesn’t want to fight, the screw-up who can’t shoot straight (David Ellison), the one who succumbs to the pressure (Philip Winchester), and the spoiled rich kid (Tyler Labine).  It wouldn’t be a war film with a noble captain (Jean Reno) and a mysterious and aloof flight instructor (Martin Henderson).

The film begins with how each came to volunteer, follows their training and early missions, and their final mission of glory.

The acting is as good as it can be given these stock characters and relationships.  The real stars of the film are the dogfights.  At the beginning they are a little to much like a video game for me, but they improve over the course of the film as the squad becomes part of the fighting unit.

There are problems of course.  The story is far from original and relies too much on the aerial dogfights and likeability of its cast.  It’s also is a little too brash for my taste; it has all the subtlety of a Michael Bay film.

I would have preferred a film that had paid a little more attention to detail rather than try to look as lush and clean as this one.  Everything is just too Hollywood beautiful.  And what a rich country France must have been during the war, to have every single member of their country dressed in new clothing, perfectly washed and pressed daily (even as they evacuate cities).  And who knew that French military uniforms are so resistant to dirt and wear they always look like they were just sewn.  Amazing.

Despite the films flaws, gross generalizations, and lack of accuracy in small matters, it still is an enjoyable film, and one of the few war movies acceptable for young teenagers.  It’s nowhere near as bad as Pearl Harbor, but is inflicted with some of the same flaws.  Still, for what it does right it is easy enough to recommend.

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