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The Aviator (2004)

  Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: John Logan
Starring: Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ian Holm, John C. Reilly
Links: The Aviator on the IMDb, Official site
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

The Aviator (2004) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Ray (2004).

"Bravo, Blanchett, bravo" - a review by pearly

Tired of biopics yet? This year sure has had its fair share of them. This particular one is about the life of Howard Hughes, and it's one of the better, and longer, ones this year.

Hughes is played by baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio, in what is definitely his biggest, and most hyped role since Titanic (1997). Unfortunately, he still doesn't manage to reach the heights of some of his even earlier work (remember What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)?), he comes as close as he's come in a fair while.

The rest of the cast make DiCaprio's job even harder, for even though he has the vast majority of the screen time, there are many fine actors giving outstanding performances in this film. At the top of the heap, by an extraordinarily long margin, is Cate Blanchett, who is exquisite as Katharine Hepburn. Though I recognised her straight away, I found that only minutes later, I'd totally forgotten that it was Blanchett that I was watching. She was truly transformed into Hepburn, and I couldn't keep my jaw off the floor. I became a little sad when I realised that her part in the film was essentially done about halfway through the film, as I had greatly enjoyed every scene she was in.

By contrast, I found Kate Beckinsale to be okay at best as Ava Gardner, though, in fairness, this may simply have been because of the let-down after Blanchett being so wonderful. More impressive were John C. Reilly, Ian Holm, and particularly, Alan Alda, in the first role I've seen him play for some time. So, back to my point, with all this talent on screen, and many more in teensy parts besides (Jude Law, Frances Conroy, Willem Dafoe), DiCaprio had to get up pretty early in the morning to impress me. For the most part, he succeeded, but I think he let himself down a little in the physical stakes, having such a baby-face that he sometimes looked like a child standing there next to actors like Blanchett. Of course, this couldn't really be helped, but it struck me nonetheless.

At just under three hours, my biggest criticism of The Aviator would be that it was about half an hour longer than it really needed to be to get its point across. Some of the lengthy periods of the film could have done with some hefty chopping, and it's probably just director Martin Scorsese's epic vision that made the film quite so long. However, on that note, I went in expecting that it would be altogether too long, and was pleasantly surprised by the film's pace and the way that it kept my interest levels up throughout, so it really wasn't all that bad.

I don't know much (anything?) about Hughes' life, so I can't really comment on the creative license used in the film, but from what I'm told, there are some pretty substantial choppings and changings in the chronology, among other things, of the film. While this bothered me not, your results may differ. In all, The Aviator is an intriguing look at the life of a very curious man, and there are bound to be aspects of enjoyment within for any film buff or historian. As a film, I would give it about a 6, but once you account for the amazing performances, it goes up a couple of notches.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 28 Feb 2005

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Reader comments

  1. I agree totally with your comment and rating, even though I had researched Hughes' life as a curiosity a few years back.

    A comment from George's Bush on Sat 23 Apr 2005 00:48 #

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