Documentary Review: ‘The Blue Angels’

by | May 24, 2024 | Movie Reviews, Movies | 0 comments

Review by James Lindorf

Depending on your opinion of the American Military, the Amazon MGM Studios original film “The Blue Angels” can either be a heartwarming tribute to the flight demonstration squadron or pure propaganda. The Blue Angels, a renowned flight demonstration squadron of the United States Navy, has captivated audiences for over 75 years with their fancy flights showcased at numerous air shows they visit each year. Now, “The Blue Angels,” which was produced by “Top Gun: Maverick” star Glen Powell, will take your breath away for the price of an IMAX ticket when it soars into theaters on May 17th before landing on the Prime streaming service on May 23rd.

Whether it warms your heart is a personal thing, but the way director Paul Crowder captured the precision and boldness of their aeronautical feats is likely to leave you breathless. Imagine four planes flying in a diamond formation at 500+ MPH with no more than 18 inches of clearance; it’s a sight that will undoubtedly amaze you. More than just a showcase, “The Blue Angels” also takes audiences behind the scenes for a revealing, in-depth look at what it takes to become one of the six Blue Angels. The cinematography is nothing short of fantastic. The speed, precision, and power of the jets are fully captured against changing landscapes that are gorgeous even with home viewing, but if available, IMAX will be the way to truly immerse yourself in the film.

While the camera work shines bright, the other elements find themselves lacking. The film’s pacing feels off from about the 30-minute mark onward. What I initially thought was one of the fastest, well-paced films I had ever seen was a movie that was only a third of the way done. After that, it becomes a repetitive series of moments following the team to a new city, watching the team going over tape, often with jargon not fit for conveying information to a civilian audience, and the pilot’s home lives. Even with a team of only six, they couldn’t highlight everyone, and the lives off the tarmac that are shared are so similar it is hard to remember whose story was whose. The bright spot in the section of the film is the next team of Angels undergoing G training, which highlights the dangers and physical abuse involved in being a pilot. Also, in this stretch of the film, Crowder provides some of the unit’s history even though it should have been part of its opening. A natural progression would have seen the history followed by the onboarding of a new team, the training, and the show season. However, as presented, it starts on day one of their access and moves forward even if it doesn’t make sense as a story for their film.

“The Blue Angels” is a good documentary that could have been edited into a pretty great one. The beauty of the film and the intensity of their skills deserve a showcase on the biggest screen you can find. Still, when they aren’t up in the air, the story feels confused and underdeveloped, earning a final score of 3 out of 5.

Genre: Documentary
Original Language: English
Rating: G
Director: Paul Crowder
Producer: Glen Powell, Sean M. Stuart, Mark Monroe, Glen Zipper, J.J. Abrams, Hannah Minghella
Distributor: Amazon MGM Studios
Production Co: Zipper Bros Films, Bad Robot, Dolphin Entertainment, Barnstormer Productions, IMAX
Release Date (Theaters): Limited run beginning May 17th, 2024
Release Date (Streaming): May 23rd, 2024
Runtime: 1h 34m