Mixed or average reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 22
  2. Negative: 4 out of 22
  1. 70
    A highly enjoyable programmer about those brave young men and their rickety flying machines.
  2. As imaginatively as some of them are staged, the action scenes are never authentically gripping. This seems to be the hidden handicap of our new digital filmmaking era in which all big action sequences are generated in the computer and look vaguely like cartoons.
  3. 63
    While the aerial dogfights are handsome and apparently historically accurate, right down to the tracer bullets that leave graceful, crisscrossing trails in the clouds, they have a video-game feel.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The movie's straightforward and ingratiating, and as pretty-boy history lessons go, it's a lot less obnoxious than "Pearl Harbor."
  5. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    Part of what makes these kind of war movies such cinematic comfort food (aside from the moral certainty they strive to convey) is their familiarity. But I wonder if said familiarity is what compels contemporary filmmakers to overstuff the material -- Flyboys is a good two hours and 20 minutes.
  6. A decidedly old-fashioned war film that reaches for epic sweep but is often bogged down in cliched drama and two-dimensional characters.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Lovingly and knowledgeably made by director Tony Bill, who got his pilot's license as a teenager, pic nonetheless has a lightweight, airbrushed feel; despite the brutal dogfights and inevitable deaths, there's little gravity or resonance.
  8. 58
    There's something almost perversely old-fashioned about Flyboys.
  9. Just about everything in the video-gamey World War I picture Flyboys rings false, although the planes certainly are terrific.
  10. 50
    Flyboys is so schematic and contrived, you can anticipate exactly what scene is going to come next, and who will be the next to die in combat, once you latch onto the structure of the script, which has all the inventiveness and ingenuity of a flow chart.
  11. Shot like a Disney period piece (prettily, with spiffy props, shiny vintage vehicles, and costumes just back from the cleaners), Flyboys introduces its squadron the old-fashioned way: with character-establishing setups.
  12. Besides some fine dogfight sequences, it often feels threadbare, just an exercise in recycling.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Gallo
    Here is the War to End All Wars seen from on high--as it was way back when, in "Wings" or the Howard Hughes "Hell's Angels"--a world apart from the grim, futile slaughterhouses of Verdun and the Marne. Among these combatants, you won't find much "All Quiet on the Western Front"–style despair, and the paths of glory are unsullied by doubt or disillusionment.
  14. 50
    Despite its empty head and arduous length, Flyboys is ever so nice, in the manner of a Norman Rockwell illustration. The director, Tony Bill, may not be a philosopher but he is a gentleman, moving things along with a tidy, well-mannered hand. In another context, such politesse might feel tonic. Given the state of things, it’s nearly toxic.
  15. While the music slops and churns and the ground-level bathos rises, the aerial stuff is occasionally stirring.
  16. 50
    The aerial dogfights are thrilling, but the script seems to have been written by Snoopy.
  17. Reviewed by: Gregory Kirshling
    This is a lost opportunity on an epic scale. The actors are so styled and the dogfights so drippy with CG that, as a period piece, the movie almost looks like it's set in the future.
  18. 40
    While director Bill nails the sheer spectacle of squads of SPADs dovetailing in flames into the wide blue yonder, the earthbound action (much as it was in another sputtering epic, Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor") is strictly laissez faire.
  19. 38
    The computer-generated flying effects are the only reason to see the movie, but at some point somebody left the computer on too long, so it went ahead and spat out the script.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Flyboys doesn't succeed as a wartime adventure story or as a period romance. Even the special effects, set in a historical context, are too ho-hum to save this over-long and tedious film.
  21. 33
    Forget any hope of raffish adventure if you think of seeing Flyboys.
  22. Reviewed by: Kate Taylor
    The creators of Flyboys know no image too clichéd, no narrative convention too exhausted and no psychological motivation too pat that it can't do service.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 25
  2. Negative: 8 out of 25
  1. Nov 23, 2011
    Heavily underrated movie. Good story with an interesting topic: WW1 flight aces are a rare film topic to find. I especially liked the dogfights which were pretty intense. Worth watching! Full Review »
  2. TonyB.
    Aug 31, 2008
    This is among the more underrated films I've seen in a long time. It was a pleasant surprise that deserved far more critical and commercial success than it got. Well written, directed, acted, photographed, edited and scored, "Flyboys" was both exciting and quite moving as well. Full Review »
  3. GrantC.
    Jul 29, 2008
    If you were a flight simulator ace, this is an excellent film. It truly picks out what it's like to go to war as a fighter pilot back in the early 1900's. Great Overall! Full Review »