The Aviator

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence. 
Starring:Leonardo DiCaprio, John C. Reilly, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsdale and a cameo by the one and only Jude Law! 
Directed By:Martin Scorsese 

Final Grade: 

Leonardo DiCaprio makes his Christmastime appearance this year in the Martin Scorsese directed film, The Aviator. Leo and Christmas time movies are about as American as apple pie anymore, it seems that moviegoers can’t get enough of their Leo over the Holidays. Catch Me if You Can, Gangs of New York and now the Aviator have suddenly made Leonardo DiCaprio a household name once again. All grown up from his Titanic days, Leonardo has found himself playing big roles in some big budget Oscar flicks over the last few years. This year expect the same from Leo as he takes on the challenging role of Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”

Going into the film I have to admit I knew about as much about Howard Hughes as I know about Quantum Physics and Rocket Science (That’s Nearly Nothing!). To me the name Howard Hughes was familiar, I knew of his work in Hollywood with pictures such as Scarface (the original, not the Al Pacino version) but beyond that, I can’t stress enough that I was going into this picture fairly blindly. With that being said, I was surprised to find Leo playing the part of a multi talented hypochondriac. As I came to learn Howard Hughes played a major role in the development of TWA airlines and had an obsession with airplanes. This obsession led him to attempting to develop one of the largest planes in history as well as many other spy planes, all while continuing his movie making passions as well. But Hughes’s over ambitious nature also led to 2 massive mental breakdowns and near bankruptcies on more than one occasion. Martin Scorsese’s picture gives us only a snippet of the life of Howard Hughes, but still gives you enough to wet your appetite to want to learn more about this eccentric character.

I personally really enjoyed Leonardo’s performance in this film. From beginning to end, I found his character interesting and very believable. DiCaprio made a very wise decision by being very choosy when it came to his filmmaking. With his monumental Titanic success he could have signed on and starred in more films than Jude Law did this year, and could have made more cheesy comedies than Ashton Kutcher could ever make while raking in boatloads of cash. Instead he chooses his films wisely and does a great job at what he does. I have to admit being annoyed with him in Titanic, but Leonardo has grown on me over the years and I am actually excited to see what undertakings he will take on next.

Another fine point of the Aviator is the performance by John C. Reilly, a man who has found himself wound up in more Oscar flicks in the last few years than any other movie star in showbiz now days. In the last Few years alone Reilly has found his way into the cast of Gangs of New York, Chicago and The Hours and soon should be able to add The Aviator to his list since it is an Oscar shoo-in. Once again Reilly gives a great supporting performance which once again made me realize that he may be one of the most under appreciated supporting actors of his time.

Director Martin Scorsese does a great job directing the film. Lots of trademark Scorsese shots make their way into the film and he does a great job of helping Leonardo bring the Howard Hughes story to life. Anyone who is a fan of Scorsese will find this film to be a visual treat as well as an all around entertaining flick. The film however runs about 2 hours and 45 minutes so it takes up a good chunk of time to watch it. The film definitely feels long, but you never really want to leave your seat.

I think my biggest problem with the film is that I felt as though I was missing something when it ended. While I found Howard Hughes to be a very interesting person I had wished they would have given me more. Blindly going into the film, If you don’t know much about Hughes they barely touch on where he gets his millions to start with, and they stop fairly abruptly at the end. I guess I could say I wanted more before and after in the story just so I could say I felt confident I knew about Howard Hughes rather than just a small piece of the pie instead.

But in the end, Scorsese delivers again with a big budget winter flick that should have the critics and the audiences cheering for Oscar Nods for both best director and best actors and probably many more. If you get a chance to see this film, don’t pass it up. It’s quite possibly one of the year’s best.