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Aviation Movie Reviews
"The Aviator"
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Writing credits:  John Logan
Review By Farmboyzim

I am by no means a "professional" film critic, whatever that may be, but I do have an opinion, which is a prerequisite for the job!  I thought I'd add a new feature to the site, reviewing any and all movies that deal with aviation.  This new feature kicks off with a review of the movie, "The Aviator". 

This movie is about Howard Hughes and his passion for aviation and focuses on the time period from the 20's to the 40's.  I received the movie for my birthday last week, and found it to be a very entertaining and insightful look into the life of Hughes, a very private and mysterious man, who had his share of problems, and then some!  Being rich does not mean that you're going to be happy, as this film shows. 

The film starts out with Howard as a child, perhaps 9 or 10, getting a bath from his mother, while practicing his spelling.  His mother showed an obsession with the "common people" and the germs and diseases they carried.  The opening scene is a bit bizarre, and is a small look into the "why"
Howard turned out the way he did.  Eccentric! 
I give this film a "4 Plane Rating" out of 5 on the "Farmboyzim Film" Scale
Still, he was a driven man, with a passion for aviation that never ended.  This, I'm sure, you can respect!  The movie progresses from the opening "bath scene" to Howard as a young, rich man, working to make the movie "Hell's Angels".  Movie making was yet another of his passions, so he combined aviation and movie making together.  If you have the bucks, go for it!  That was one of the problems he had encountered along the way though.  Everyone seems to think that he had a magic pot of gold that he could dip into whenever he needed a quick million or two.  The opposite is in fact true.  Even though he surely wasn't struggling to make his house payment, coming up with the large sums of cash was still a problem for him, but being the driven man that he was, and believing in himself and what he was trying to accomplish, he pulls it off, and the film, "Hell's Angels" is finally released after three years in the making.  These early scenes of Howard wrapped up in his movie, give a clue as to what type of man he is to become.  He didn't care much for what other people thought, and followed his own path.

Everything in the movie is centered on the passion of flight, from his early days of making his first movie, to the development of the XF-11 and the Hercules, also known, to Hughes' disdain, as the "Spruce Goose".  The movie also reveals his struggle to get his fledgling airline, TWA, equipped with the new Lockheed Constellation, off the ground.  Dealing with corrupt government officials (so what's new there?) and competing airlines for the wide open international market was quite interesting and revealing.  The movie covers his role in the development of the XF-11, a high speed spy plane that he was trying to develop for the military.  Howard comes very close to losing his life after a crash in the XF-11.  Very good graphics of the crash scene, I might add!  Here is where his life takes a big turn.  Still passionate about flying, his inner problems start to manifest more and more, and he becomes ever more reclusive.  Throughout it all though, his staff remain close and protective of him.  I got the impression this was not only for the decent salaries that they were probably making, but also out of loyalty for the man himself.  They saw past his "weirdness" and knew him for what he really wanted to be. 

My first impression, before I had even seen the movie, was that of how were they going to pull off Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes?  Even though he seemed young for the role, it actually worked out well, since Howard was a very young man when making the movie Hell's Angels.  His age was something that he was also very conscious of in those early days, probably driving him on even more.  The movie was well balanced between aviation, which is the common thread throughout the movie, his personal life, and ultimately, his eccentricities that eventually consumed him.  Even though this was just "a movie", and there are certain areas where the director has used his "artistic license", the film is still informative and quite entertaining.  Yes, there are a few inconsistencies in the movie, such as Air Force insignia from the wrong time period, and references to famous names also during the wrong time period, but hey folks, this isn't a historical documentary, IT'S A MOVIE!  I came away feeling very sorry for this man, even though he was a multi-billionaire, and I also came away with a new found respect for the aviator/innovator, Howard Hughes. I want to add here that my father, when he was a radioman for a small airport in the Midwest, met Howard Hughes, and was both impressed with him and liked him.  My Dad said that he was very focused on what he was doing, with a no-nonsense attitude about him.  To be honest, I have not really heard of anything "bad" about Howard Hughes, just that he was a man haunted by his own personal demons.  Show me a person who doesn't have a demon or two lurking around, and I'll show you the wings on my back!  Opps!  I must have been plucked already!

I would recommend this movie for those of you who enjoy aviation films.  This is not an action movie, but a movie about a man and his passion for flight.  I haven't been a really big fan of DiCaprio's, because, well, to be honest, I thought him to be a "young buck" and perhaps a bit arrogant.  This is probably just based on envy on my part, since I don't know him personally!   Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm, Danny Huston,  Gwen Stefani, Jude Law, Adam Scott, Matt Ross, and all other cast members have done a great job in this movie.  My opinion of DiCaprio in the role of Hughes is, to my surprise, actually quite good, down to the mimicking of Hughes' smallest little quirks.  Although they tried to make DiCaprio look older as the film wore on, his boyish looks and youthful appearance still came through the make-up, but still a decent portrayal was performed.  Jeez, imagine having the problem DiCaprio has, trying to look older and not succeeding!

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence.
Runtime: 170 min
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