Anyone who wants to start feeling good about war again—and hey, pilgrim, isn’t it about time?—might do well to take in Flyboys. In this elaborate, computer-generated fantasy, the plucky volunteer pilots of the World War I Lafayette Escadrille are once more cast as “knights of the sky,” dashing young Americans who soar aloft in flimsy wood-and-canvas biplanes, shoot down a glowering Hun or two over the verdant fields of France, then return to the chateau to quaff cognac and sing bawdy ballads in tribute to their fallen comrades. As for that other, less glamorous side of WWI—embodied in the grim, futile slaughterhouses of Verdun and the Marne—well, there’s no point in revisiting that old mess, no use even thinking about the hundreds of thousands of dismembered corpses rotting down there in the mud. Instead we have handsome pilots (James Franco, Martin Henderson, and Abdul Salis among them) cast into an aerial spectacle in the service of myth, wherein the paths of glory are unsullied by doubt or disillusionment. You won’t find much All Quiet on the Western Front–style despair vexing these flyboys. WWI may have been the bloodiest, most useless atrocity in the history of mankind, but not tonight, not in this movie. BILL GALLO
Opens at Meridian and other theaters, Fri., Sept. 22. Rated PG-13. 139 minutes.