Coming quickly on the heels of Gangs of New York, The Aviator cemented the cinematic partnership of director Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence, Cape Fear) and actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, Titanic). Scorsese now rarely makes a film without Leo as his leading man. This one has the look and scope of your typical Scorsese film while covering the early career of billionaire Howard Hughes (DiCaprio). Covering the decades of the 1920s until the 1940s, it moves through his mental state, business endeavours and the women he was involved with.
Most people remember or think of him as an eccentric who hid himself away from the world. He had a life before his mental health issues began to take over. A full life which involved plenty of women, big budget films and aircrafts. As such it is not a huge surprise that the film is a big endeavour. Meaning it is long. Running at almost three hours long, it does require an investment of energy and time to watch it. Thankfully it is a film made with the skillful eye and style of Martin Scorsese and starring a large, but talented cast.
In the late 1920s the extremely wealthy Howard Hughes owned the movie studio RKO. As the film begins he is working on a huge war film. As a director he is quite exacting and demanding. He certainly has firm ideas of what he wants. No matter how long it takes or how much it costs. Much to the dismay of his money man. While filming this Howard’s passion for planes and flying comes to the forefront.
As such, the billionaire purchases his own airline. TWA becomes Howard’s baby. It goes up against rival airline Pan-American run by Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin – A Star is Born – 2018, Mission: Impossible – Fallout). The rivalry becomes a personal one between the two titans. Howard does not have a shut off button and so will invest as much money, time and effort as it will take to see out his vision.
On the personal side, Howard becomes involved with a couple of Hollywood film starlets. First, is Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett – Carol, Blue Jasmine), a women with as many quirks as Howard. They seem to be perfectly suited for one another. Each being somewhat of an outsider. After that ends when Helburn leaves him, Howard then takes up with Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale – Underworld, Farming). Personal relationships of any kind become more and more problematic as his mental health issues take a grip. OCD and being a germophobe begin to cripple Howard.
Your eyes and mind will be opened about Howard Hughes. What type of man he was. Martin Scorsese has long been known as a director who pays close attention to detail. Even the smallest of things are involved here. This really allows you to understand and absorb the essence of Howard Hughes. With all the lavish sets and costumes along with the glamour of the decades portrayed, a world is created that enables the viewer to dive into what is going on. An era is more than ably recreated.
Taking on such famous characters – Hughes, Hepburn, Gardner, Errol Flynn (Jude Law – The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani – Trolls, Zoolander) – is a tricky thing, but for the most part this huge cast – which also includes Alan Alda, John C. Reilly, Adam Scott, Brent Spiner, Ian Holm, Danny Huston, Willem Dafoe, and Frances Conroy – does a great job. DiCaprio and Blanchett stand out the most with Beckinsale being a pleasant surprise. None resort to reducing their characters to caricatures.
A film which is tailor made for the Oscars.
-Feature Commentary by Director Martin Scorsese, Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and Producer Michael Mann
-Deleted Scene: Howard Tells Ava About His Car Accident
-A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator
-The Role of Howard Hughes in Aviation History
-Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, A History Channel Documentary
-The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
-OCD Panel Discussion with Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Howard Hughes’ Widow Terry Moore
-An Evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda
-The Visual Effects of The Aviator
-Constructing The Aviator: The Work of Howard Shore
-The Wainwright Family – Loudon, Rufus and Martha
-The Aviator Soundtrack Spot