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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Film Review: The Aviator

"Chocs away... I'm flying high, like a rocket in the sky etc"

The Aviator (12A)
Dir. Martin Scorsese

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Some men dream the future. He built it.
This is The Aviator - cinema on a spectacular yet intimate scale, confident in tone and lovingly made, it will blow your socks off when it flies and is totally captivating in parts – yes it’s a Martin Scorsese film.
Leonardo DiCaprio has never been better than as eccentric industrialist Howard Hughes, the legendary filmmaker and ‘aviator’ in this visually amazing biopic. Covering Hughes’ life and loves from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s, these were mad times when his flamboyant lifestyle included dating top actresses Katharine Hepburn (an excellent Cate Blanchett), Jean Harlow (embodied by pop sensation Gwen Stefani) and Ava Gardner (the always red hot Kate Beckinsale).
Not content with rewriting new playboy standards, we also get to witness Hughes making his epic WW2 film ‘Hell’s Angels’, personally setting a new airspeed record and taking on then all conquering Pan Am, as well as designing and building the largest plane on the planet. It’s giddying stuff – especially the flight scenes which dazzle, the enthusiasm and passion are very evident as Scorsese crams masses in to the film, which is almost 3 hours long.
The acting and set pieces are incredible, Cate Blanchett must be up for a best supporting actress Oscar – she really steals the show in her role as Hepburn utterly nailing her mannerisms, poise and accent. There are good supporting roles from Alec Baldwin and Alan Alda who form the axis of evil that try to bring Hughes down but actually inspire him to step up to the fight.
The Aviator does hit some turbulence though, like Scorsese’s last film ‘Gangs of New York’, it might be a perfectly realised recreation of the time, but its mind often wanders and the film sometimes trips itself up by letting scenes drag on too long. It is not always easy to watch, especially when it deals with Hughes’ decent into madness (although it ends before the period when he became a recluse for his last 20 years), but it does engage enough human emotion to save the day.
It is for my money a must see film – ambitiously biting off more than may be wise, some have claimed it is 'all gloss and no substance', but it attacks the screen in the same way Hughes led his life – full of gusto and not prepared to compromise.

Go see it.

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (good)

Read other film reviews by Matt Adcock: click here

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