Like the more boring and less interesting movie version of "The Right Stuff".
So, this is a Richard Donner movie (his first one), starring Charles Bronson in a lead role and it has James Stewart(!) narrating but yet no one has ever heard off this movie? It sounds all weird but there actually is a very logical explanation for it; the movie just isn't very good or memorable.
It's hard to even really call this a movie in the first place. It's stuck somewhere between being a documentary and a slow moving drama. The entire story is being told in such a way that it almost feels like a documentary you are watching, complete with a lot of technical details and background information about the airplanes and missions. No big surprise, since the movie got actually made with the help of the space program and the air force. In a way you could even call this movie a piece of propaganda.
But the movie also still tries to tell a story. Not hard enough though. Everything remains terribly underdeveloped, this goes for the story as well as for all of its characters. The movie also never becomes a very interesting one to watch because of that very same reason. There is not a clear enough main plot line that it is following and because of that also all of the developments in it fall short and everything feels without consequences. It doesn't matter at all for the viewer when a test fails, or a plane blows up. You just don't ever feel involved enough with any of it, to care about anything.
It all also makes this movie a bit of a boring one and definitely also overlong, since it starts to repeat itself pretty early on already and sometimes scenes just go on for far too long, without serving really a purpose for the movie in the first place.
It really doesn't matter at all that Charles Bronson, amongst others is in this movie. None of the characters get to do anything good or interesting and the acting and whole directing approach of this movie reminded me of a '50's science-fiction flick, that too desperately wanted to be taken serious as a movie. It feels the need to throw in all kinds of technical aspects and nonsensical questions, that are completely irrelevant in todays perspective. It's all very forced and wooden and lacks depth of any sort.
But please, allow me to also still say something positive about this movie. Because it got made with the help of the air force, the aerial moments are great looking ones. Normally movies like this would had uses some standard archive footage of planes flying but this movie is very consistent with its look and often shows some great, insightful, moments in the air, also often from the perspective of the pilot.
At first I also was very excited when hearing James Stewart narrating this thing. However strangely enough the narration suddenly stops half way through the movie and Stewart can't be heard again, until the very end of the movie.
Do yourself a favor and watch "The Right Stuff" instead. It for some part handles some of the same subjects, about the earliest days of the space program and test flying but it does this a far more interesting and exciting way, than this movie ever does.
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