Tony Bill has made a film that looks phenomenal.
Some of the bonus features were a little redundant.
Flyboys tells the story of pilots during World War One when planes were first used as fighting machines. The story concerns the airmen of the Lafayette Escadrille who fought with the French against the Germans. After his land is foreclosed on, Blaine Rawlings (James Franco) puts the man who did it in the hospital and thus flees to France to be a fighter pilot. He is joined by a crew of men such as Eddie Beagle (David Ellison) and Eugene Skinner (Abdul Salis), and they are instructed and led by the fair but firm Captain Thenault (Jean Reno). Also, Rawlings eventually develops an alliance with Reed Cassidy (Martin Henderson), a man with a past very similar to Rawlings.
Drama plays out both in the air and on the ground as Rawlings seems to be on a collision course with an ace German pilot. There are multiple battles in the film, all of which look really spectacular, and through them we see this ill fated relationship develop. In addition to this, Rawlings begins to have a liaison with Lucienne (Jennifer Decker), and this complicates things as the Germans began to advance further into France. There is also the usual male bonding that happens in these films, soldiers drinking together, having talks that reveal more about them, and even some intrigue when it is believed that there is a spy among the men.
In the end, most of the subplots and plot points are fleshed out and Flyboys plays like the triumphant war story that it is.
They have put 5 featurettes on this Blu-ray disc. They each delve into various aspects of the Lafayette Escadrille, as well as the world during World War I. The featurettes are as follows:
- "Real Heroes: The True Story of the Lafayette Escadrille"
- "The Life of a Miniature Stunt Pilot"
- "Whiskey and Soda - The Lion Mascots"
- "Taking Flight: The Making of a Flying Sequence"
- "The Real Planes of Flyboys"
I had to watch "Real Heroes: The True Story of the Lafayette Escadrille" featurette, because I really wanted to see how much this production did or didn't get things right. For the most part it seems that this movie did quite well in achieving the look and feel of the times in question. We hear from historians and such and I think it also helps this film that Tony Bill really cares about this period in history. Another stand out to me was "Taking Flight: The Making of a Flying Sequence," because it truly amazes me that they are able to pull off the stunt sequences that they do. This went pretty in-depth in terms of taking us into this world, and making us feel all the thrills, chills and spills that the filmmakers were trying to achieve. Sadly, I didn't have time to watch everything but I certainly tried.
Trivia Track Pop-Up
Mixing real facts with some simple statements, this "pop-up" track is something you should watch intermittently. By this I mean, I wouldn't devote yourself to sitting down and watching this thing, but if you happen to put it on and then catch a little bit of it here and there you should be fine. Basically, it provides information for you about the planes, as well as other World War I tidbits. Then, when there's time, it tries to tell you silly things or things that just seem random at best.
Dean Devlin and Tony Bill do the commentary on this track. They discuss the production, casting, and go pretty in-depth talking about the locations. They explain that the entire movie was filmed in England yet they used it for all the locations depicted in the film. Then, they move into areas like the chemistry between the characters, and how French benefactors supplied places for the soldiers to stay in during the way. In fact, they used one of those places in this movie. As the commentary track moves on they talk about the work of Henry Braham, the film's cinematographer, and they even discuss the lax nature of the military in this film. Apparently, since fighter pilots were a new branch, things weren't as regimented as they are now.
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. 1080p HD Resolution. This is a good movie to take your Blu-ray player out for a spin. I say that because it mixes a decent amount of action with a lot of dialogue scenes. The colors for this movie were really rich even when I viewed it on Standard DVD. Here, this release presents us with fast moving scenes, as well as quiet moments that seem mainly lit by firelight. Also, this release handles the interiors and exteriors quite well. I like that this movie covered so much ground in a visual sense, even though I am not normally one who cares about that stuff. Something tells me Blu-ray enthusiasts will care, however.
English: DTS HD 5.1 - Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 - French: Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in Spanish and French. I had read around the old internet that some people felt that they kept having to adjust their volume during the battle scenes vs. the dialogue scenes. I found that things were like this at first, then once I leveled my TV to a little less than halfway things played fine. In addition to this the audio is very full, even in the dialogue scenes. I am not saying it sweeps you up in the romantic subplot of the film, but the audio was rich and that really complimented the picture.
This front cover features James Franco, and the rest of the main cast, clad in their World War I uniforms. Below them is a shot of planes in the sky and an explosion sounding off near them. The back cover of this release shows off some more images from this film, it provides us with a description of what Flyboys is about, it offers up a credits list as well as system specs.
This movie seemed like it could have been a lot longer. I am not saying that it should have been (in fact, I think that it was fine as is), but I just noticed scenes that seem really encumbered by time constraints. As an example, there was a scene where Lucienne was trying to escape from her home as there were Germans all around her. We see Rawlings flying around in the sky then the movie cuts and he's on the ground. Aside from this being very jarring, I can't help but wonder if maybe this film might have played better if it had been longer? Movies are strange beasts and sometimes one that runs long in length, actually seems like it plays shorter. The same thing could also apply for those films that run shorter and then seem like they are neverending.
Whatever the case, I think Flyboys is a pretty solid movie. I am surprised that it didn't do more business in the United States (it was made for $60 million and it only grossed $13 million), but at the same time, the movie may have had more of a foreign appeal overall.
Flyboys was released September 22, 2006.