If you want to see a film about the flyboys of World War I, I recommend Wings released in 1927. William Wellman, the director and John Monk Saunders, who wrote the original story were both ace pilots during "the great war." The flying sequences were real. Few films since have equaled the authenticity of the exciting sequences in the air. In 1929 Wings won the first Oscar given for best picture.

Now one of the problems some people might have with wings is that it is a SILENT film. However you can get a copy which has a sound track with music especially composed for the film. Richard Arlen, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Clara Bow are the stars. Gary Cooper makes a fleeting, but notable, appearance. If you haven't seen a silent film, this may be a good one for you. The dog fights in the air were all real and the plane crashes were done by Dick Grace, Hollywood's best stunt pilot at that time.

Wings cost $2,000,000 to make. Flyboys cost 60,000,000. Wings looks real while Flyboys looks like a video game. As a matter of fact, you can now buy a Flyboys video game. At least to me, one of the big problems with this film is the unrealistic air dogfights. It is very obvious these were all done with digital effects. There are other things in this movie which are also artificial, including some of the acting. Martin Henderson is all wrong as the veteran ace flyer in the Lafayette Escadrille. This part has all the potential of being a delicious role for someone who could really be believable as the tired, callous, yet caring veteran. Henderson never reaches that potential. James Franco is the leading man in this film and he is good but has some problems, not the least of which is his having seen too many James Dean movies. Franco does look like Dean and his acting is highly suggestive of Dean. However he does have a certain naturalness, especially when he is in the same scenes with Henderson. I believe Franco has all the tools of a good actor. He might make it.

The rest of the cast is just adequate. No one stands out except for Jean Reno. You should recognize Reno the minute you see him. He was the "hit man" in The Professional with a very young Natalie Portman. In Flyboys, he is the tired, but caring Commander of the Escadrille. He is by far the most believable actor in this film.

The subject of this film has great potential. It is too bad that the best we can say about it is that it might make a good video game.






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