Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the first U.S. fighter pilots and form a squadron known as the Lafayette Escadrille, whose exploits and heroism become the stuff of legend. This fictional version follows a laconic Texas rancher, an eager Nebraska kid, a Black boxer already in France, and a New York swell, as they arrive green for training, get their baptism by fire when German planes ambush them on their first mission, and graduate to heroics. Rawlings, the Texan, falls in love with a young woman he meets at a bordel. Written by
Contrary to a note made by another contributor, the N-prefixed number on the French fighters' tail-planes is perfectly authentic and not at all anachronistic. The N was the identification code for Nieuport, the number was its production number in the series. See more »
In the opening series of scenes from a train station in Lincoln, Nebraska clearly show the name "Union Pacific". Union Pacific never served or went through Lincoln, Nebraska during World War One. In addition the locomotive, passenger car, and goods wagon are of British origin. See more »
By the start of 1916, World War I had wreaked havoc across Europe. Over nine million people would eventually die.
Although the airplane had only recently been invented, it was quickly adapted into a war machine.
The young men who flew them became the first fighter pilots and a new kind of hero was born.
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Star Wars meets the French Foreign Air Force in WW1
When this movie hits theaters this fall it will be setting a new standard for digital FX photography action scenes. I had a hard time telling the difference between the real stunt flying and the CGI. It almost makes George Lucas's dogfights in space look crude. (OK, maybe with the exception of that fantastic first shot in Episode 3.) But imagine that level of technological knowhow applied to a WW1 dogfight. And like the original "Star Wars" there is a scene here involving the German equivalent of the Death Star threatening Paris that is nothing short of spectacular. A shame, then, that the rest of the story is less than inspiring. Whatever the actual history, I didn't quite believe the subplot of the black American pilot. He seemed a cliché and just one of several stock characters. The love story ultimately goes nowhere, either, though James Franco and Jennifer Decker both turn in moving performances. As innocent and naive as Franco and his friends seem, they never get past the cardboard stage. It would've been more interesting to me if they were a neurotic, drunken, whoring bunch of elitists, most of whom would then never get over the experience. Rather than tell that tale of a decadent, sophisticated flyboy of the Lafayette Escadrille, however, they settle here for the Disney version, appealing to the lowest common denominator and an audience of teenagers, with Franco doing a good job playing Luke Skywalker, or maybe Gary Cooper. Jean Reno seemed largely wasted. I kept hoping he'd have more to do. But lest you think I had a bad time, think again. This is a movie about "aeroplanes," and they are all terrific, be they replicas or virtual. And the overall production design is superb.
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