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Flyboys - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}Flyboys portrays the true-life story of the legendary Lafayette Escadrille, a group of Americans who volunteered to fly fighter planes to defend France in the days before America joined World War I in 1917. But more importantly, it's the first film to depict the elite fighting unit since The Dawn Patrol and Hell's Angels were released in 1930. World War I especially from the viewpoint of aerial combat - is seriously underrepresented by Hollywood, so it's nice to see the filmmakers not only lend such a keen eye to the accuracy of the era, but to also give us a movie that is actually good.

Notice I said good, not great. It falls into too many formulaic trappings half-baked back story, unoriginal characters, and superficial relationships to significantly reach outside its genre and find a mass audience. But it excels in so many other aspects that it's a must-see for lovers of the war film genre. The aerial combat sequences are some of the best ever on film, and are worth the price of admission alone.

While I'm certain the vintage war craft aficionados and expert military historians will debate the film's accuracy until the cows come home, the fact remains: director Tony Bill and producer Dean Devlin didn't include anything in the film that couldn't be documented in writings, plans or photos of the era. Flyboys is an always interesting history lesson with pulse-pounding action and engaging melodrama that feels like it was borrowed from old fashioned war films that might have starred John Wayne or John Ford.

Technical accuracy aside, the heart of the story centers on the men of the Escadrille. While most seem to have been poured from the mold of clichéd characters of countless other war films, some are actual interpretations of real fighter pilots such as Eddie Rickenbacker, Raoul Lufbery, and Frank Luke. There's the idealistic Rawlings (James Franco) who thinks he can single-handedly change the course of the war; Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis), a black boxer looking to repay his debt to the country that accepts him despite his color; Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson) a loner veteran fighting his own personal war against an opposing German pilot; a spoiled rich kid looking for approval from his demanding father; and the French commanding officer (Jean Reno) who plays father hen to the cocky brood of neophytes. All te actors are relative newcomers many are actual pilots in real life but they take on their roles with a steely eye towards authenticity and believability.

Rawlings falls in love with Lucienne (Jennifer Decker), a fragile French farm girl who lives a few miles from the air base. Their evolving relationship provides the occasional much-needed respite that perfectly counters the heart-racing pace of the fighting sequences. Decker is genuinely touching as the reluctant love interest. Although her Lucienne struggles to communicate with Rawlings, her tender vulnerability is played with veteran skill. Keep an eye on her. We're sure to see more from her.

Where Flyboys hits its high notes is in its depiction of what it must have been like to fly in those rickety planes of the time. It's interesting to note that the airplane had only been around for about 10 years when The Great War broke out, but man had already found a way to use them for death and destruction. A combination of real planes both authentic and hand-made for the film and CGI was used to create the stunning dogfights. The planes of the time were really nothing more than a machine gun bolted to a wooden frame stretched with canvas, with the pilot seat-belted to a wicker basket. We get a harrowing sense of the danger these men faced when the sky lights up with the spider webs of tracer fire.

Flyboys doesn't pretend to be "The History Channel meets Citizen Kane." It purposefully pours on the Schmaltz in places and even seems old-fashioned in others. But its entertainment value can't be denied. It's riveting at times, sad in others, and all the while it pays an elegant homage to WWI films before it and respectfully observes the honor of those who fought in The Great War.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; deleted scenes; cast and crew information; DVD-ROM game; director's commentary.

* Commentary - Feature-length audio commentary with director Tony Bill and producer Dean Devlin.
* Deleted Scenes - Extended scenes, deleted scenes, and outtakes.
* Featurettes -
o Real Heros: The True Story of the Lafayette Escadrille
o Life of a Minature Stunt Pilot
o Whiskey and Soda- The Lion Mascots
o Taking Flight- The Making of a Flying Sequence
o The Real Planes of Flyboys
* Theatrical Trailers - for The Illusionist, The Last King of Scotland, Copying Beethoven and Home of the Brave.
* DVD-Rom - Flyboys Squadron Game

Number of discs: - 2- Amarray Packaging


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