Spielberg’s Masters of the Air: the definitive war series? My impressions after the first episode in the cinema

news culture Spielberg’s Masters of the Air: the definitive war series? My impressions after the first episode in the cinema

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The Second World War is in the spotlight at the end of January 2024 with the broadcast of the first episodes of a war series highly anticipated by fans of the genre. In the vein of Band of Brothers – 2001 and The Pacific – 2010, created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, Masters of the Air takes the torch and comes to Apple TV+ with all its enthusiasm. Here are my impressions after the first episode seen in the cinema.

Airbenders in a nutshell

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are only executive producers of the new series that will launch on Apple TV+ at the end of January 2024. Masters of the Air is the creation of John Shiban and John Orloff. These two industry veterans have worked on The X-Files: Borderlands/Smallville/Supernatural and Band of Brothers respectively. Based on Donald L. Miller’s book “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany”, the eponymous series aims to be the heir to Band of Brothers as well as The Pacific, which filmed the Second War. world from the infantryman’s point of view.

This original Apple TV+ production takes a closer look at the American army pilots who faced the Luftwaffe for supremacy in the sky until the fall of the Third Reich on May 8, 1945 after their defeat against the Allied forces. To realize his vision of the conflict, The showrunners have offered the services of a first-class casting. Masters of the Air can count on its ranks with Austin Butler (Elvis), Callum Turner (Glue, Fantastic Beasts), Anthony Boyle (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Barry Keoghan (The Eternals, The Batman, The Banshees of Inisherin) , Ncuti Gatwa (Doctor Who, Sex Education) or even Sawyer Spielberg (Steven Spielberg’s son) in person. Here is the synopsis of the Masters of the Air series:

Masters of the Air follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they carry out dangerous bombing raids over Nazi Germany and face freezing conditions, lack of oxygen, and the sheer terror of fighting at 25,000. feet of altitude. The portrait of the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men who helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich is at the heart of “Masters of the Air.” Some were shot and captured, others were injured or killed. Others were lucky enough to return home. Whatever their fate, they have all paid a high price. -Apple TV+

The casting of the Masters of the Air series:

  • Austin Butler – Major Gale Cleven
  • Callum Turner as Major John Egan
  • Anthony Boyle – Major Harry Crosby
  • Barry Keoghan as Lieutenant Curtis Biddick
  • Nikolai Kinski as Colonel Harold Huglin
  • Stephen Campbell Moore as Major Marvin “Red” Bowman
  • Sawyer Spielberg as Lieutenant Roy Frank Claytor
  • Ncuti Gatwa – Second Lieutenant Robert Daniels
  • Isabel May – Marge

The Masters of the Air series begins on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024 with the airing of the first two episodes (for a total of nine).


A master class at 25,000 feet

What a manifest pleasure to discover in the cinematic trailer on the big screen the new war series produced by none other than Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. I must make a confession before we get to the heart of the matter. I grew up alongside the “heroes” of the great era, that of war films and westerns of the 60s and 70s. The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Longest Day (1962), A Bridge Too Far (1977), etc. They were my go-to movies during my childhood. And I have unforgettable memories of the screenings of Pearl Harbor (2001), We Were Soldiers (2002) and many others with my grandfather as a comrade in arms sitting next to me.

Of course, Saving Private Ryan (1998) resonates with me as cinematic evidence, and the same goes for Brothers in Arms and Hell in the Pacific, which I certainly appreciated, but with a slight bitterness. My television screen was too small to do justice to the military exploits depicted and the impeccable production of the artists who worked hard on these two television series produced by HBO. We are in 2023. Water has passed under the bridge, but not my love for a genre that always manages to come back strong. Masters of the Air is, in my opinion, proof that the film and, by extension, the war series are immortal.

Spielberg's Masters of the Air: the definitive war series?  My impressions after the first episode in the cinema

I was only able to see the first episode, and without much surprise it was a revelation although all the codes and other archetypes were followed to the letter… otherwise it would have been surprising. Let’s be clear. The series must be viewed in optimal condition to be appreciated at its true value (and not in a crowded subway on a smartphone screen). Its dogfight scenes filmed in the heart of the action and therefore in a B-17 commonly called the “Flying Fortress” reminded me nostalgically of those in The Battle of Britain (1969). It is a true classic that served as a reference for certain scenes in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. And what can we say about its brash, confident characters who necessarily remain in draft form after a single mission, but who only ask to flourish for the rest of the series and whom we would follow to hell?

Masters of the Air is not without its flaws, far from it. Certain visual effects sometimes clash with the many qualities of a “First Part” made with the greatest care. The characterization of the protagonists also sometimes leaves something to be desired, due to a choral adventure that dilutes the function of the subject in favor of a group effect typical of military stories. The truth is that Masters of the Air brilliantly fulfills its role and the objectives entrusted to it. It’s time for the series to take flight to Apple TV+ and for the 100th bomber group to continue its celestial epic.


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