The Kind Of Masterpiece Viewers Expect From Steven Spielberg And Tom Hanks
Published: February 8, 2024
By: Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
An Apple Original Series from Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman – the producers of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. During World War II, airmen risk their lives with the 100th Bomb Group, a brotherhood forged by courage, loss, and triumph. Masters of the Air is based on the 2007 book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller and follows the actions of the 100th Bomb Group, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber unit in the Eighth Air Force in eastern England during World War II. The series serves as a companion to Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010). It is the first series to be produced by Apple Studios, in cooperation with Playtone, and Amblin Television.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Masters of the Air is exactly the kind of masterpiece viewers expect from the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Perfect for fans of war dramas, Masters of the Air has the rich plotline and sky-high production quality to not only entertain, but even educate its viewers.” See his full review below.
Masters of the Air
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Masters of the Air is exactly the kind of masterpiece viewers expect from the dynamic duo of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Perfect for fans of war dramas, Masters of the Air has a rich plotline and sky-high production quality to not only entertain, but even educate its viewers; it’s a shame that the pacing lets the magnificent series down slightly.
Adapted from Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, Masters of the Air presents in nine episodes the story of eleven men who, in a plane called the “Flying Fortress,” battle flocks of German fighters. These men were a part of the 100th Bombardment Group of the US Army Air Forces in World War II, nicknamed the “Bloody Hundredth,” due to the heavy losses they suffered throughout their campaigns. They embark on a scintillating journey as they work to destroy Hitler’s Third Reich. It’s truly a momentous story.
Both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the films that Masters of Air is linked with (it provides the Air Force narrative to supplement their stories of terrestrial and naval warfare) are well-known for their incredible visuals and CGI. Masters of Air is no different; the midair combat is almost dizzyingly realistic, the sets are stunningly crafted, and every character’s look is intricately pieced together. The series warrants a theater experience, which viewers unfortunately won’t get. These amazing VFX are thanks to the high production budget of the film — between $200 million and $250 million. The series also has some incredible talent behind it, though; Austin Butler, who plays Major Gale Cleven, and Barry Keoghan, who plays Lt. Curtis Biddick, headline Masters of the Air, and their brotherhood and bond are palpable. Their storyline becomes especially strong after an unfortunate turn of events when they’re taken as prisoners of war. The only knock on Masters of the Air is its pacing; every episode feels lengthy, but the first two episodes are especially rough. It was tough to sit and wait for the plot to get moving, though there are combat scenes after the first half-hour of episode 1. I suppose it took me some time to get used to Cary Joji Fukunaga’s style of direction, though he ensures that every part of each scene he films has not a hair out of place, which is commendable.
Masters of the Air is a lesson in patriotism, courage, and resilience. The men of the show stick together even when death is at their doorstep — not just for their own pride or sanity, but more importantly, for their country.
I give Masters of the Air 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The first two episodes of this miniseries will be released on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024. New episodes will be released the following Fridays through March 15.