Director Tony Bill has made a film that looks phenomenal.
Fox sent me a burned DVD that didn't contain all the extras or packaging.
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.
The Flyboys DVD contains more extra features than I have reviewed here. I was only sent a burned copy of this disc so I sadly cannot review the other features my disc didn't contain.
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 - Widescreen. This film looked really solid. At no point did I think I was watching actors on sets, and I also liked that even though the images were really nice, they never lingered in one area for too long. This movie looks so good it seems that every composition within the frame has been done to place something in the foreground, middleground and the background. All of the images are really textured and multilayered so that this movie feels very big and multidimensional.
Sadly, the screener that Fox sent over did not contain anything telling me about the technical specs of this DVD. So, instead of watching it on my small, one speaker television, I viewed Flyboys on a larger TV with a surround sound system. This movie was leveled a lot better than most DVDs. Normally, when things are quiet I have to turn the volume up, then when they get louder I have to lower my set. That wasn't the case at all with this disc and it was highly refreshing.
As I have mentioned, Fox only sent me a burned copy of this DVD in a white envelope. I have checked out what the artwork is for this release, but since it wasn't sent to MovieWeb, I really can't see myself reviewing packaging I don't have.
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.