IMAX: Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag (2004) Review
(More customer reviews)I know this world well--flew from Nellis for 3 years against all of these aircraft, targets, and all through this airspace. Overall, I think this documentary does what they set out to do, and I think it tells a good, but overly spectacular story of Red Flag.
There is no doubt that this film is filled with CGI aircraft effects, rigged explosions, questionable flying tactics, and conversation/terminology that you just don't hear in a real training battle. I thought I would offer up the "why." Much like Top Gun, movie producers quickly learned that the "real thing" doesn't make for very engaging movie material. The real thing includes spread out formations, intense radar work, and shooting long range missiles from 30,000 feet, often without ever seeing the bandit with your own eyeballs. None of this shows too well on the big screen, so they have to "juice it up" by bringing all of the aircraft together into the same video frame, move the fight down to treetop level to convey the speed, and throw in a bunch of aileron rolls because they look cool (even though they don't make the guy behind you spit out in front of you). The CGI fills in the gaps where the AF wouldn't fly the requested maneuvers due to safety reasons.
As for the rigged explosions, there are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that the directors/producers wanted a "from the target" view of the bombs and bullets hitting, which I must say came out really cool. To film that actual aircraft's ordnance hitting the target would have meant losing their camera and the film in the course of the explosion. The other thing is that the rigged explosings can be crafted to be especially "fiery" whereas real world bombs look like gray, soot-filled explosions and don't cut the mustard for the Hollywood types.
The last thing that really varies from the real battle is the communications between pilots. To put it simply, it they were to use real terminology, only other military pilots that knew the lingo would be able to follow the action. The target audience would be totally lost. So they toss in some of the lingo, and then typically have the pilot "explain it" in english, all in the same radio call.
Does any of the above wreck the movie? Only if you're really familiar with the way it really happens. My biggest complaint is that the CGI additions to the dogfight look fake. On the other hand, they look a lot better than they did in Air Force One, which I'm sure had a lot bigger special effects budget. For whatever reason, the CG folks just haven't figured out tactical aviation yet, so I'd rather them just show me the real thing, even if it isn't quite as spectacular.
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A state-of-the-art, edge of your seat experience! Get in the cockpit with the world's best pilots to witness the most challenging flying of their careers... Follow a young American pilot as he makes his way through Red Flag - the world's most intense, simulated air war, training event - where U.S. and international pilots, ground crews, mechanics and rescue personnel are taken to the limits of their endurance. Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag delivers speeds of up to 800 miles per hour with thundering, roaring, screaming sound and stunning aerobatics that will blow you away! Filmed over the Nevada desert with unprecedented access to military procedures, the film features an enormous armada of aircraft including four American squadrons of F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Aggressors, Stealth F-117s, B-1B Lancers, B-2 Stealth bomber, C-17 Globemaster III, a U-2R and more... This DVD version of the film has been specially mixed and mastered to produce an outstanding DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 home theatre experience.
Offers the complete feature in Microsoft Windows Media Video High Definition, playable on your PC widescreen version only). WMV HD delivers up to 1080p resolution(6 times the resolution of standard definition DVD video) and 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound