DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Flyboys
Flyboys
MGM // PG-13 // January 30, 2007
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Phil Bacharach | posted January 22, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Movie:

When you hear a war movie described as "old-fashioned," it can refer to rousing, reliable, rip-snortin' entertainment. But it can also mean just plain old, as in stale and mawkish. Flyboys is old-fashioned enough to encompass both senses of the phrase.

The movie's unmitigated blandness is a bit mystifying when you consider its rich source material. Flyboys details the exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille, a celebrated real-life squadron of mostly American fighter pilots who fought for the French before the United States entered the First World War. The romanticized trappings of that period seem as it they'd be irresistible for a full-fledged popcorn flick. With roaring biplanes, aerial dogfights and square-jawed Yanks squaring off against insidious German foes, what could possibly go wrong?

The script, for starters. Judging by the assortment of stock characters gathered here, the Escadrille's rigorous screening process must have weeded out all multidimensional candidates. Even by the standards of lazy writing, the screenplay (credited by Blake T. Evans, Phil Sears and veteran scribbler David S. Ward) is generous with such one-note Johnnies as Nebraska-farm-boy-who-wants-to-be-a-hero (Philip Winchester), guy-who-can't-do-anything-right (David Ellison) and religious guy (Michael Jibson). The filmmakers subtly convey his defining character trait because he reads the Bible and sings "Onward Christian Soldier" in the heat of battle.

For greater depth, Flyboys offers Blaine Rawlings (James Franco) as its nominal hero. The rugged young man hightails it out of his Texas hometown after roughing up a banker, but all traces of a potentially shaded -- and interesting -- personality are extinguished by the time he arrives in France to join the squadron. In fact, the only remaining mystery about Rawlings is why his Texas accent comes and goes at will.

This is the sort of movie that telegraphs everything within the first few minutes. When a rich ne'er-do-well (Tyler Labine) balks at having to share quarters with a scrappy black soldier (Abdul Salis), you know it's only a matter of time before the cad learns the error of his ways and the two become fast friends.

But lame characterization and clichéd plotting in a war flick can be forgiven if they are countered by exciting action. Thankfully, Flyboys steeps itself in World War I's iconic imagery of biplanes sputtering machinegun fire across skies of ash and smoke. The CG special effects are mostly impressive, and director Tony Bill does a serviceable job with the aerial sequences, even if Flyboys falls short of the derring-do evident in classic WWI movies such as 1930's Hell's Angels or 1937's The Dawn Patrol.

While there are some startling scenes -- German planes suddenly emerging from clouds like a swarm of wasps, the earth-rattling explosion of a zeppelin -- such images are little more than momentary diversions. It certainly doesn't help that the pilot garb of goggles and scarves during the combat sequences makes it nearly impossible to know who is doing what. Tony Bill, to his credit, concedes on the commentary track that he should have had at least some of the actors ditch the goggles.

Once on terra firma, there is no such confusion. The screenwriters pour on the clichés with subplots ranging from racism to shellshock, overbearing fathers to the war-hardened cynicism of a veteran pilot (Martin Henderson). Perhaps the biggest groan-inducer is a tacked-on love story in which Rawlings falls for a pretty French girl (Jennifer Decker) who is apparently smitten by the man's inability to speak her language. Luckily, there is common ground between American cheese and French cheese. Cheesiness conquers all.

The DVD

The Video:

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Flyboys is a solid and attractive print transfer. Aside from very slight graininess in a few lower-lit scenes, the picture is clean.

The Audio:

Excellent quality -- sharp, dramatic and immersive sound. Viewers can select between 5.1 Dolby Surround or 5.1 DTS. Dolby Digital 2.0 is available in Spanish and French. In addition, subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Extras:

First, an important note: The Flyboys DVD includes considerably more extras than were on the disc that MGM sent to reviewers. As a result, the only supplemental material I was able to check out was a commentary track with director Tony Bill and producer Dean Devlin. They do a respectable job, particularly in remarks about how they achieved certain special effects.

The DVD includes trailers for The Illusionist, The Last King of Scotland, Copying Beethoven and Home of the Brave.

Final Thoughts:

Don't expect too much from this World War I flick and you won't be too disappointed. Despite a wearying length, Flyboys is certainly watchable and mildly entertaining, but the movie's plundering of cliché and contrivance is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.

Popular Reviews
1. Superman: The Movie
2. Andrei Rublev: Criterion Collection
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Creepshow
5. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
6. Fire Birds
7. I Married Joan: Classic TV Collection Vol 4
8. The Adventures of Hajji Baba
9. Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Ultimate Edition


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use