Case Study #4
movies that bombed
were they thinking?
I was going to review Godzilla for this installment of Film Cemetery, but How Did This Get Made? beat me to it. These are really funny guys and gals that make a weekly podcast on movies they hated.
These podcasters are from the hit show, The League. If you haven't checked their recordings out, I highly recommend that you do.
And on to the film....
Flyboys, interestingly enough, has a connection to Godzilla, though....namely Dean Devlin.
Back in the 90s I followed Devlin's career, mainly because he was an up-and-coming writer connected to Roland Emmerich, a promising director with a penchant for disaster movies.
Devlin wrote Universal Soldier and Stargate, which was the very first film to have its own website. Devlin and Emmerich went on to make Independence Day and Godzilla, then The Patriot.
That was the year 2000, and I didn't know when I bought the Flyboys DVD in 2006, that Devlin's career had already peaked....then fizzled.
But because of the aforementioned films, when I saw Devlin's name on the DVD box, I purchased it without question.
I should have done my homework, because I'll never get that $20 back.
Flyboys, looking past the terrible title, is too awful for words. The superb CGI work is to be commended, but the whole movie feels like a flight simulator.
Devlin boasted that nobody would be able to tell the real aircraft from the CGI ones, and this is not true.
A telling sign of a film that may bomb is when it fails to find production financing. Devlin and his pal David Ellison spent 60 million of their own money to make Flyboys.
They didn't get it back.
The plot is simple, though. James Franco goes to France so he can fly some really old planes that nobody cares about anymore.
That's it. The only reason to see this movie is for the fake flying sequences, which is kinda a let down when you realize that nothing is real. And to make matters worse, this movie is horribly inaccurate.
Devlin, in a fit of stupidity, only hired one historical consultant - Jack Livesey. Livesey was convicted of fraud a year later, having lied about his entire military service.
I realize that I'm being harsh, but the characters in Flyboys really are paper-thin, the dialogue is laughable, and the acting is brooding and poor.
There is absolutely nothing to care about in this movie. And that's a problem.
Franco does meet a girl, played by Jennifer Decker. She hasn't worked since, just like Devlin.
Are warning bells going off yet?
When I saw this movie, something clicked in my head. Emmerich and Devlin can't write characters that an audience can connect to.
You can see this problem time and time again in Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012.
The main characters, who we are supposed to love and care what happens to them, are flat, boring and unrealistic.
Make no mistake, Devlin has gotten lucky a couple of times. In The Patriot, he killed off Mel Gibson's family, which generated sympathy. In Independence Day, he took patriotism to extreme levels.
But what was Devlin thinking with Flyboys? And why didn't Spielberg look at this bomb before setting off to make Red Tails?
Yes, some people do care about the subject matter, and some will watch for the special effects...but most will stay away if the boring, unlikable characters are lost in a disjointed melodrama.
Flyboys didn't even make back a third of its budget, and Devlin has thankfully fallen off the face of the earth. Franco's career wasn't hurt by this movie, which is good. He's smart and funny, and I like him a lot.
But Jean Reno disappointed me. He's too good to be wasted in this, and he pulled the same crap in Godzilla.
I'm not done with Devlin, though, because Cellular was equally bad....and I lost $20 bucks on that DVD, as well. So you will seeing a post on that bomb, too.
Watch Flyboys for the action, if anything. The CGI is excellent, and the battle sequences with the zeppelins are awesome.
Other than that, if you see Devlin's name in the credits, run away as fast as you can.
What disaster movies
did you like?