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  Publicity Stills of "Flyboys"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Drama/War
Director: Tony Bill
Cast: James Franco, Jean Reno, David Ellison
RunTime: 2 hrs 19 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG (Some War Violence
Official Website: http://www.mgm.com/flyboys/

Opening Day: 14 December 2006


Synopsis :

The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country's first fighter pilots..

Movie Review:

War flicks usually appeal to a wide audience. Valuable history lessons aside, everyone else has something to enjoy in a war movie. While the boys can marvel at the adrenaline-filled sequences, the girls can ogle at the manly soldiers in uniform fighting for their country’s honor.

We have seen many agreeable war movies. We remember Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) being the all-important NC-16 movie to reach our shores. We do not know anyone who does not like Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001).

So when another film chronicling the stories of war comes along, we are more or less sure that nothing can go too wrong. Besides, unlike most other war movies, this one features WWI, and focuses on fighter pilots who fight their battles in the skies.

This movie tells the voyages of the real-life Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American young men who volunteered to join the French military during the WWI period. With different aspirations and expectations, they eventually became recognized as some of the best fighter pilots to conquer the skies.

With today’s advancements in technology, the computer wizards have done a good job re-creating how fighting in the skies could have been in the 1910s. The few battle scenes display impressive pacing and remarkable excitement, without giving viewers a moment to breathe until the sequence is over.

The jets seen in the movie are also nice to look at, because they are not your usual high-tech fighter aircrafts. What we have are vintage biplanes in their full rugged glory.

What a pity it is then, that the 140-minute movie is ultimately bogged down by several sluggish subplots of mushy love stories, racism and battling personal demons. These segments only slowed down the already lengthy movie, if you ask us.

We do not blame the director, because Tony Bill’s previous works mostly come from television series episodes like Monk and Felicity. Given that this is Bill’s official big screen directorial debut, it is a decent effort by our standards.

Also, expect some down-to-earth and earnest performances from the cast here. Familiar faces include James Franco (Spider-man, Tristan + Isolde) and Jean Reno (The Pink Panther, The Da Vinci Code). The less well-known actors fill up the rest of the well-defined roles whose characteristics are written to perfect stereotypes.

There is the spoilt brat who grows up spending time with the force. There is the victim of racism who works hard to earn his honor. There is the captain who has to fight a dark past. Every character you have seen in some other movie, you’d see it here.

Not that we are complaining about this though, because it is still nice once in a while to leave the cynics in us at the door and enjoy movies the way they were meant to be. It is evident that the filmmakers of this film do not try to be too smart for their own good, unlike the many pseudo-innovative movies out there now.

At least, the money you’d have to fork out to watch this good enjoyable movie would be justified. Just like the many other war flicks you will never get bored of watching.

Movie Rating:

(Instead of the usual trenches, tanks and foot soldiers, this movie gives us something refreshing featuring exciting battles that are fought in the skies)

Review by John Li


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