Since May 2nd was the famous Red Baron's birthday, I decided that I would post my reviews for two WWI movies. I am going to be posting reviews for my favorite (and maybe not so favorite) movies on my blog hopefully, so this is only one of the first.
First of all, one of my favorite movies of all time is Flyboys. This is actually what made me into a WWI buff in the first place. It's about the Lafayette Escadrille which was a contingent of the French air service for Americans to join before America officially joined the war effort. It was much like the Foreign Legion but for pilots. In fact, historically, several of the real Escadrille pilots had transferred from the Legion. The hero of this movie is Blaine Rawlings (played by James Franco), a young man from Texas whose family ranch has gone bankrupt. He got into a fight with the landlord, and decided to skip town instead of getting arrested, and ends up joining the Lafayette Escadrille. There's an amazing cast of characters in this movie. A son of a rich man who's a little stuck up, a young man who comes from a long line of military heroes who has the "prove myself worthy" problem, an ex-thief and a young black boxer who was based off Eugene Bullard--the first black man to fly in combat. (I always find it refreshing how un-racist the French are--unless it's dealing with the English ;) And, of course, the typical angsty character, Reed Cassidy, the last one alive of his former squadron and made pretty cynical because of it (you know those types ;) All these characters form a great comradeship amongst each other. One of my favorite things in this movie was the camaraderie. It was just really well done. And the love interest (a French girl who is left taking care of her brother's children after he and his wife were killed in a bombing) is not detracting from the story line. (A huge plus.)
This movie was pretty good in the historical accuracy from what I have read. The planes were amazing and the dogfighting scenes were really awesome! Some of them could have put Star Wars to shame ;) The only thing I can tag them on was the fact that all the German planes (except the main baddie's which was black) were red Fokker Driedeckers (triplanes) that modeled Richthofen's famous plane. But the director mentions this in interviews and admits to doing it so viewers could tell whose plane was whose. This is why you should read author's notes before complaining about historical inaccuracy! We all have our reasons =)
In short, if you like war movies, flying movies, are a WWI buff or whatever, you should still watch this movie because it's a sadly underrated film. I give it five stars definitely!
Now for the second movie, this one is called "The Red Baron" and yes, it's about Manfred von Richthofen. For the most part, this movie was good, though not very accurate. The setting and the flying and planes and everything were pretty much okay, but they didn't really get everything about Manfred's life quite right. (It was about as accurate as Braveheart, meaning it had a lot of poetic license.). The actor who played Manfred (Matthias Schweighofer) was great though. He was actually German which was a plus, and he uncannily looked just like him! It was freaky at times, especially when he was wearing a sweater in the movie that looked just like one I have seen pictures of Manfred wearing. (Costuming did great on this movie.) My main problem was his love affair with the nurse. Leave it to the screen writers to HAVE to add romance to every thing. If it hadn't been for that, it would have been a great movie. There was never any historical record of Manfred being in love with the nurse, Kate Osterdorf. That was one reason I really loved Jeff Shaara's book To the Last Man because he didn't put any romantic interest between them. But movies are movies... So, for me, there was a lot of time that could have been spent in this movie between Manfred and his comrades instead of him with the girl he never really fell in love with. I also had a problem that they made Lothar (Manfred's younger brother) somewhat of a brat. What I've read of him, he was pretty nice. But again, that's what happens with movies.
The movie was good, though I didn't like it as much as Flyboys. I think it deserves three and a half stars.