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Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

Keep flying, 'Flyboys'

By Ryan Pence

September 28, 2006 | How many good flyboy movies do we have to watch?

Not many, especially if we're referring to the nitty-gritty, prop-driven airplanes of the 1910s.

Flyboys captures all the fun of flying, all the intensity of aerial combat and all the inherent danger that comes with it. Did I mention the movie is based on a true story?

Story. The year is 1916. The place is France. The mission of the Lafayette Escadrille in is to train the first fighter pilots. The reason: World War I, the Germans have invaded France. Who are you going to call? The Americans of course. The snag: America doesn't want to enter the war. What happens? Young American men enlist to fly airplanes in the war for France. End result, some airplanes get shot down, people die, a blimp gets destroyed, it's war. Oh, and did I mention the love story mixed and intertwined into this move, for the female audience member, or the revenge story told to try to give depth to one of the pilots.

Characters. Easily the strongest point to the film. The movie introduces each character in turn, showing why he volunteered to be one of the first fighter pilots. The reasons are diverse. The show comes complete with its cast of stereotypes, including: The hot shot and good-looking guy, Blaine Rawlings; Reed Cassidy, the mysterious flying Ace who is out for revenge on the German pilots who killed his friends; Eugene Skinner, a black man who is tired of his boxing days and wants to make something of his life; Briggs Lowry, who is there to gain his father's approval; Lucienne, the female love interest; and rounding out the cast, Captain Thenault, the person in charge of Lafayette Escadrille, and who is in charge of the flight school and combat training. Apart from all these stereotypes the characters work well together, making an all-together enjoyable ensemble cast.

Bottom Line. As a whole Flyboys is a decent movie. The special effects weren't overwhelming, the cinematography was engaging, and the editing was smooth. The problems with the movie was the script, primarily with a couple of characters who weren't completely fleshed out, another revision I'm sure would have fixed that problem. Assuming of course they addressed that issue. The rest of the story was all right, complete with a mediocre love interest, and a revenge story.

Rating. PG-13 for violence

Ryan's Picks. If you don't feel like dishing out the money to see this flick check out these other movies by producer Dean Devlin.

StarGate. Kurt Russell stars in this sci-fi epic that explains that the great pyramids where constructed by a race of humans who were brought to earth by an interstellar doorway, or "Stargate." The movie is quite smart and moves at a lighting pace. But if you're looking for amazing acting, look elsewhere. This movie is just a good story jam-packed with action and special effects to dazzle the eye.

Independence Day. Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman star in this over-the-top, action-packed, special-effects show about an alien invasion. Bill Pullman plays the president of the United States. Will Smith plays fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller. Jeff Goldblum portrays David Levinson, who discovers the diminishing code sequence being broadcast among the alien aircraft. When put together this movie adds up to a whole lot of fun.

The Patriot. Mel Gibson's performance in this movie makes it worth seeing. He plays farmer Benjamin Martin, who after his son is murdered takes command of a colonial militia. This Revolutionary War epic is beautiful to watch and is quite moving at times.


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