MASTERS OF THE AIR (2024)
TV Mini Series.
Aired On: Apple TV+.
Release Date: 01/26/24.
Action. Drama. Thriller.
"During WWII, five miles above the ground and behind enemy lines, ten men inside a bomber known as a "Flying Fortress" battle unrelenting flocks of German fighters."
The new Masters of the Air miniseries has an exciting, action-filled premiere that perfectly follows the magnificent Band of Brothers and totally-serviceable Pacific series. Developed and directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, No Time To Die), Masters of the Air spotlights, and will become most known-for, some incredibly-meticulous air-to-air combat that is both scary and breathtaking. Yet the show becomes too easily grounded when trying to fill in that aeronautical action with bland characters and spiritless dialogue.
Debuting on Apple TV+, Masters of the Air adapts the book by Donald Miller chronicling the heroism of the American Eighth Air Force in World War II. Similar to both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, Masters of the Air provides the occasional narration, this time worded by navigator Harry Crosby (Anthony Boyle) whose ironic bouts of air sickness makes for one of the few, and noticeable, cast stand outs.
The show is led by Austin Butler as Major Cleven who has traded in his Elvis leisure suits for wool-lined leather. Unfortunately he has also done away with any of that Oscar-nominated flamboyance and is set with a character who doesn’t say much. He is partnered with Callum Turner who comes equipped with a Sidney Crosby playoff-ready mustache. Turner, as Major Egan, plays the hothead role set to 11, making up some for the muted Butler.
Outside of those three, the names, the faces, and minimal personalities so far developed, are all as ephemeral as the clouds they fly through. Especially once suited up with masks, everyone looks the same. Even the nicknames are similar; Turner is “Bucky” and Butler is “Buck”. As power duos come, “Bucky & Buck” doesn’t exactly have the ringing fortitude of “Han & Luke”. Or “Starsky & Hutch”.
Maybe that is all a wash, anyway. The true stars of the show are the B-17 Flying Fortresses. These warbirds from nearly 80 years ago are majestically analog. Onboard levers are pulled; pedals pushed; switches flipped; racks bolted back - and everything is line of sight. Fukunaga and the F/X teams give these old girls the glory they deserve and are truly the reason to watch. The thrum of those giant engines conjure a special magic in the air
Other than the longest and driest opening title this side of For All Mankind, the Masters of the Air premiere has a promising take off. Hopefully the landing proves to be a smooth one.