Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. 100
    This is one of the year's best films.
  2. Sumptuously exciting, glowing with expertise, seething with life, gorgeously designed and thrillingly articulated.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    100
    Despite the film's sporadic lulls, both director and star are on full beam. The first and third hours of this 20th-century epic are as dazzling as big-scale movies get.
  4. 100
    If you didn't know that Martin Scorsese made The Aviator, the enthralling new adventure-biography of Howard Hughes, you might think it was the calling card of a neophyte visual genius.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    100
    An enormously entertaining slice of biographical drama, The Aviator flies like one of Howard Hughes' record-setting speed airplanes.
  6. 100
    Brilliantly entertaining.
  7. 91
    The Aviator, though, if not prime Scorsese, is the closest thing in a long time to the old Scorsese. What a splendid year-end gift!
  8. It's not his (Scorsese) best film, but it's his most accessible and most thoroughly entertaining.
  9. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    90
    This is Scorsese’s "Schindler's List", for better and for worse (mostly the better).
  10. The result is an admirably bumpy ride of a biopic, a rare one that leaves you feeling not safe but bracingly unsettled.
  11. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    DiCaprio is astonishing.
  12. 88
    When it flies, it soars.
  13. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    88
    So breathtaking is the action.
  14. Scorsese has crafted a rip-roaringly gorgeous-looking, beautifully acted biographical epic. But while firing on all cylinders, there's something oddly distancing about the picture.
  15. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    80
    DiCaprio shines, dispelling fears that he hasn’t the weight to carry such a complex, forceful role.
  16. 80
    Hugely entertaining and extravagantly empathetic.
  17. 80
    A frenzied, sometimes overreaching biopic that paints in bold colors on a huge canvas, the film stars a never-better Leonardo DiCaprio--as perfectly cast here as he was miscast in "Gangs."
  18. Tainted or not, Hughes' life was a remarkable one, and, flawed or not, Scorsese's film version deserves the same accolade.
  19. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    80
    But Cate Blanchett ... ahhhh. She doesn't impersonate Katharine Hepburn, she channels her.
  20. 78
    It’s bravura, classic Hollywood filmmaking, and you like to think that Hughes himself would have viewed it, if not appreciatively, then at least with a sense of kinship.
  21. Has to be called one of the year's best movies. Credit goes partly to the built-in fascination of its subject and partly to its excellent cast.
  22. 75
    Scorsese has crafted a luxurious entertainment that goes down like a flute of sparkling, silky champagne.
  23. 75
    The movie equivalent of a lavish coffee-table book, a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood from one of its foremost students.
  24. Scorsese's most accomplished, most disciplined movie since GoodFellas. His most gorgeous, too, with the peaches'n'strawberries'n'cream palette of early Technicolor films.
  25. The Aviator has a hole in its center, and Scorsese fills it the only way he can, with spectacle. He makes The Aviator colorful and entertaining from beginning to end. There are worse things.
  26. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    75
    As luscious as the filmmaking craft here is, it lacks the rude vitality, the unpredictability, the pure American craziness of the films that should have won him (Scorsese) the Oscar: "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," and "GoodFellas."
  27. 75
    A flawed but entertaining (and perhaps informative) tale.
  28. Running at about three hours, The Aviator is long, and the momentum occasionally flags. The depiction of Hughes's first mental breakdown feels a little obsessive-compulsive itself.
  29. Martin Scorsese understands one character better than any other American director: the man who rises in the world to wealth or prominence without attaining what he wants most. That's why Howard Hughes is an ideal subject for this director.
  30. Scorsese, I think, is so invested in making The Aviator upbeat and rousing that the movie never quite reveals, the way that "Kinsey" or "Ray" or "A Beautiful Mind" or even a good E! True Hollywood Story do, how its hero's vision and his grand torments could be flip sides of the same temperament.
  31. 70
    A triumph of production design...As a character study, though, The Aviator is downright squeamish.
  32. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    70
    Despite its star's heroic efforts, The Aviator is a gorgeous jet, flying on automatic pilot.
  33. Watching the actors and gorgeous trappings is an adventure in cognitive dissonance. I didn't believe a single minute in almost three hours, but enjoyed being there all the same.
  34. Lots can be said for The Aviator as entertainment, though not much for it as edification.
  35. A lush, panoramic, dizzyingly portrait of the many-tentacled entrepreneur Howard Hughes. Unfortunately, though it may finally gain an Oscar for director Martin Scorsese, it is not his best work. The movie is disappointingly flat.
  36. 60
    Brisk, glossy and gloriously art-directed, Scorsese's lavish biopic is a pop trifle, engaging but not compelling.
  37. Visually sumptuous if disappointingly hollow account of Hughes's early life.
  38. We may enjoy watching the spectacles, but we don't much care for, or even have a feeling for, the guy in the cockpit.
  39. This same film, shot for shot, line for line, could have been much more solid and engrossing, much farther up the Parnassian slope, with a better actor as Hughes.
  40. The Aviator could've been a "Raging Bull" brother film, given that masterpiece's crystalline purity of purpose and humiliated courage. But it brakes far short.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 300 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 29 out of 147
  1. Jul 11, 2014
    8
    This undoubtedly a very good film. Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal in the lead role and really embodies Howard Hughes. Throughout, it barely felt like acting, rather it felt like I was watching Howard Hughes in a documentary, which is truly amazing. John C. Reilly, Cate Blanchett, and Alan Alda also really stood out in what was a very large and talented cast for this one. Martin Scorsese's direction is also fantastic as usual. Thanks to his direction, we get a very clear picture of what was a very troubled genius due to the great storytelling. Also thanks to his direction, the almost three hour run time feels more like an hour. The cinematography is also something to behold here, as the entire film is really beautifully put together. Sometimes with Scorsese, though I love his films, I can feel that little bit, "Well I liked that, but I thought it would be better," but here, there was no such feeling as this really lived up to the hype for me and more and really stands tall as a great biopic of one of the brightest men in recent times. Full Review »
  2. May 18, 2014
    8
    This is one of Scorsese and DiCaprio's most underrated, DiCaprio is just so astonishing as Howard Hughes in a well studied portrayal, Cate Blanchett like always gives an amazing performance as Katharine Hepburn. Do not care about its 170 min length it's very good Full Review »
  3. Feb 21, 2014
    8
    Great story, great actors, great director. Not much anything else to say except that the movie is pretty long, if you have no problems with that, go watch it! Full Review »