The Blue Angels movie poster

The Blue Angels

In theaters May 17, 2024


92 minutes

Directed by:

“I feel the need…the need for speed!” Originally uttered by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards in 1986’s mega-hit Top Gun, this iconic line could easily apply to the courageous and talented pilots featured in the new documentary The Blue Angels. Risking life and limb nine months of the year for audiences across the country, their mission is to showcase the “teamwork, precision, and power of U.S. naval aviation.”

Capturing not just the breathtaking aerial stunts that have made the Blue Angels famous, the documentary also delves deep into the personal stories and rigorous training behind the scenes, offering a comprehensive look at what it takes to become one of these elite aviators.

From the very first frame, The Blue Angels captivates viewers with stunning cinematography. The aerial shots are nothing short of spectacular, providing a bird’s-eye view of the precision and skill required in each maneuver. The use of advanced filming techniques, including high-definition cameras mounted on the jets, immerses the audience in the cockpit, offering a visceral experience that is both thrilling and awe-inspiring. The slow-motion sequences, set against the backdrop of the vast sky, emphasize the grace and power of these aircraft, making for a visually arresting spectacle.

Director Paul Crowder focuses not just on The Blue Angels’ jaw-dropping formations, but also on the pilots and support crew behind the scenes. Faced with real life-or-death situations multiple times a day, the six pilots must become a family unit, trusting each other with their lives. By delving into what drew the pilots to this esteemed group and exploring their personal lives, Crowder humanizes these extraordinary individuals, revealing their vulnerabilities, fears, and motivations.

Interviews with current and former Blue Angels provide a rich, multi-dimensional perspective on the challenges and rewards of their profession. Personal anecdotes and behind-the-scenes footage reveal the immense pressure and discipline required to perform at such a high level, fostering deep respect for these servicemen and women. After watching the pilots train in a centrifuge, many moviegoers will forever swear off any dreams of becoming a fighter pilot.

For aviation enthusiasts, the documentary offers a treasure trove of technical insights. It covers the intricate details of the aircraft, the rigorous training programs, and the split-second decision-making processes involved in executing complex maneuvers. This technical depth adds an educational layer to the film, making it informative as well as entertaining. Non-aviation enthusiasts will marvel at how four planes flying at 400 miles per hour can fly in formation just 12 inches apart!

The soundtrack deserves special mention for perfectly complementing the visual grandeur of the film. Multiple-time Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer serves as Executive Producer of music, delivering a score that elevates the emotional impact of each scene, whether it’s the exhilarating rush of a flight demonstration or the contemplative moments of a pilot reflecting on their journey.

The Blue Angels documentary blends stunning visuals, compelling storytelling, and technical prowess, making it suitable for all moviegoers. However, it could have benefited from tighter editing—at 92 minutes, the subject matter might have been just as effectively conveyed in 60-70 minutes. The film pays a fitting tribute to the skill, dedication, and teamwork of the Blue Angels, offering a profound appreciation for what it takes to be part of this elite group. Whether you are an aviation aficionado or a casual viewer, this documentary will leave you with a renewed admiration for the artistry and precision of flight.

Amazon is screening it in theaters for only a week before premiering it on Amazon Prime on May 23rd. Make sure to catch it on the giant IMAX screen, as the documentary will likely lose some of the thrills, chills, and powerful sound that can only be experienced in theaters.

The Blue Angels is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

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