A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action drama is set during World War I, so the combat on the ground is awkward and somewhat brutal (though only briefly seen), while the newfangled "flying machine" combat is romanticized. Battles tend to include slow motion sequences and grand music, characters are shot in their cockpits and slump over, bleeding, and a couple of planes crash. One character is shot down by airplanes after he has crash-landed. Another suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, drinking too much and behaving erratically, worrying his fellow flyers. A central character is shot (not fatally) while escaping the Germans. A brief scene following a pilot's crash shows him in a French bordello, where the prostitutes appear in their underwear and he undresses to his own underwear in order to have his injury dressed (he's embarrassed by this). Characters drink liquor, smoke cigarettes and cigars, and use occasional mild profanity.
What's the story?
Set in 1916, before the United States entered World War I, Tony Bill's movie focuses on young American men who go to France to join the Lafayette Escadrille. Texas rancher Blaine Rawlings (James Franco), frustrated at the loss of his parents' land to the bank, heads to Europe so he can put his flair for cowboying and earnest energy to use piloting one of the brand new "flying machines." Blaine's fellow trainees include Briggs (Tyler Labine), who enlists in order to prove his worth to his wealthy snob of a father; William (Philip Winchester), a cavalry officer's son who wants to continue his family's military tradition; and Eugene (Abdul Salis), a black expatriate boxer who wants to defend France, where the people actually treat him like an equal. All are instructed by the very patient Capt. Georges Thenault (Jean Reno).
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the history of World War I, which introduced planes as weapons and vehicles of warfare. How do the American flyers help the French cause before the United States enters the war? Why did the United States finally decide to get involved in the war? How has warfare changed since WWI? What is the movie's ultimate message about war?
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