The Aviator

December 25th, 2004


The Aviator

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Still of Leonardo DiCaprio and Gwen Stefani in The AviatorStill of Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett in The AviatorLeonardo DiCaprio at event of The AviatorStill of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Beckinsale in The AviatorStill of Leonardo DiCaprio in The AviatorStill of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett in The Aviator

A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7.5/10 (123,957 voted)

Critic's Score: 77/100

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale

The script begins as a young Hughes directs one of Scorsese's favorite films, Hell's Angels. Hughes was so obsessed with perfection in the aerial sequences that he waits forever for perfect conditions, right down to cloud formations. The Aviator ends in 1946, when Hughes was still a dashing young man and romancing actresses like Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn.

Leonardo DiCaprio - Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett - Katharine Hepburn
Kate Beckinsale - Ava Gardner
John C. Reilly - Noah Dietrich
Alec Baldwin - Juan Trippe
Alan Alda - Senator Ralph Owen Brewster
Ian Holm - Professor Fitz
Danny Huston - Jack Frye
Gwen Stefani - Jean Harlow
Jude Law - Errol Flynn
Adam Scott - Johnny Meyer
Matt Ross - Glenn Odekirk
Kelli Garner - Faith Domergue
Frances Conroy - Mrs. Hepburn
Brent Spiner - Robert Gross

Taglines: Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner the passion he couldn't resist.


Official Website: Miramax | Official site [Japan] |

Release Date: 25 December 2004

Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $110,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $858,021 (USA) (19 December 2004) (40 Screens)

Gross: $213,741,459 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The original screenplay was inspired by the book "Howard Hughes: The Untold Story" by Peter Harry Brown and Pat Broeske.

Revealing mistakes: When Howard Hughes is staring at his hands in the projection room he raises them to be illuminated by the light of the projector in a close-up, but in the subsequent long shot, although his hands are still in the light, there are no shadows of the hands on the screen.

[first lines]
Allene Hughes: Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e.
Young Howard Hughes: Quarantine. Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e. Quarantine.

User Review

Falling Short of Greatness...Again

Rating: 8/10

Scorsese has such an encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of cinema that every shot, however inventive and daring, is effortlessly composed. The direction, editing and cinematography are all the first-rate work by individuals who are clearly masters of their profession and the production design, costumes and makeup are the best you'll see all year. Their efforts combine to create a world of rich and lavish color, of excitement and glamour. Who wouldn't want to visit THIS Cotton Club in 1935? It's hard to imagine who could trump the technical team for Oscars this year.

With such a perfectly realized world in which to perform, the actors universally do an outstanding job. Despite the criticism of the hardcore DiCaprio-haters, the unprejudiced will observe an excellent performance that takes genuine risks and convincingly conveys the passing of more than twenty years. Importantly, DiCaprio more than holds his own when paired with Cate Blanchett and especially Alan Alda, who both give equally note worthy performances. Blanchett's interpretation of Katherine Hepburn seems spot on, and anyone familiar with the late actresses mannerisms will appreciate the hard work that clearly went into the recreation. Alda, one of the most consistently underrated actors around, delivers another masterclass in restrained character building as he oozes ambition and political dishonesty from every pore.

And yet, despite the obvious talent of all those involved and Scorsese's ability to effortlessly fill three hours, something about The Aviator fails to completely satisfy. Without wanting to sound like a film student, movies should, ultimately, be ABOUT something; love, honor, courage, redemption, the BIG ideas and themes that are the fuel of the plot. What was the drive of The Aviator? A rich guy recklessly spends lots of money to indulge his personal obsessions and gets away with it. We're never told how his experiences change him, and without change there's no journey. Considering the screenplay was written by John Logan, who usually displays a keen interest in showing the emotional evolution of his characters, the oversight is inexplicable. Ultimately then, much like Gangs of New York, The Aviator is simply the sum of it's parts, and however brilliantly those parts are realized, there doesn't seem to be a bigger theme to underpin and drive them.

The Aviator is a perfectly realized recreation of the era and one well worth experiencing. But the lack of a real emotional journey suggests 'all gloss and no substance', and ultimately prevents the movie from being truly great.


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