Aviation is an exciting industry, of that there so no question. Powerful fighter jets are capable of incredible agility, streaking through the air at breakneck speeds and hitting targets with pinpoint accuracy. What isn’t to love? It only makes sense that Hollywood would want in on the action.
There are some aviation focused films that get it right, depicting the industry as it really is. But then there are those that go the other direction. Reality is flaunted, physics are ignored, and the whole industry is turned into a fantasy fuelled farce.
Here are some of the films that don’t do real aviation justice.
Top Gun (1986)
Yes, Top Gun is a classic film adored by millions. But there is a big difference between a film being loved, and a film that accurately depicts aviation. The biggest sin in Top Gun is, without question, how it portrays fighter pilots. The rivalries and macho attitudes may make for good entertainment, but are painfully inaccurate. Maverick and Iceman would have been ejected from the real Top Gun in a matter of moments. Who would possibly trust them with million dollar jets?
The 80s was a great era for fantasy tech in movies, with there being no better example than Firefox. Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, much of the film is fine. It is, of course, the depiction of the cutting edge fighter jet that drags the entire experience down. A number of vague, often ridiculous tech capabilities are assigned to the jet, including that it will automatically fire at anything the pilot perceives to be a threat. Better hope whoever is piloting the plane doesn’t get spooked by a pigeon.
What isn’t this advanced jet in Stealth capable of? It’s better than a real pilot, can pull off impossible manoeuvres, heck you can probably navigate to Australian soccer betting sites on the on-board computers. The film Stealth is an example of what happens when individuals clueless about real aviation try make a film about aviation. Yes, the film does still have impressive special effects, but the absurdity of an AI jet going rogue is enough to make anyone with even a modest grasp on reality roll their eyes. Especially when the AI fighter jet develops a fondness for rock music.
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Last is an aviation movie that has become a hot focus of worldwide audience disapproval. The film Pearl Harbor is almost universally despised, with it getting so much wrong, on so many levels, as to be considered insulting by some. It released at a time when Hollywood still believed audiences wanted a certain type of war film, though Hollywood made a serious misjudgement in that regard.
On release, Pearl Harbor was met with split reactions, though over time has garnered far more hate than praise. A book could be written about the historic inaccuracies alone, never mind inaccuracies that relate to wartime aviation alone. In short; audiences would be better off reading an aviation history book.