I was very disappointed with this film, and it held so much promise because of the subject matter. The Lafayette Escadrille was a colorful batch of pilots of dubious background and experience that nevertheless were pretty effective as a combat unit. The real-life people involved certainly were interesting enough to warrant a film like this.
I think it was a case of a poor script and lack of budget, and selling a war film is never easy.They opted for fictional-based-on-fact set of characters that reduces them to cliches. I suppose they didn't want to be taken to task by creating a character profile of Raoul Lufbery that didn't jive with historical fanatics.
The cast wasn't the problem: They were pretty good, even if they were cardboard cutouts of actual historical members of the famous Lafayette Escadrille. James Franco does a decent job as the central Yankee flyer who joins up to flee his past. His love interest is improbable, but at least it had some awkward realism to it.
But even the combat situations were stock Hollywood: Rather than attempting to show a historic fight of the Escadrille, they created generic Germans. I guess that once again it was to make the film interesting to non-war buffs, they skimped on accuracy and detail in favor of flash. The CGI combats were too fast, way too fast. These kind of planes were pretty darn slow. The tactics and maneuver was what could make the combat exciting, but they fought like World War 2 aircraft instead. The mix of planes was very limited, so instead of encountering five models of aircraft it was literally the same Nieuports and Fokkers every dogfight. With CGI, you should be able to throw in an occasional odd plane.
This is an untapped era of film: The Knights of the Sky, and the much older 'Blue Max' still stands as one of the better depictions of air combat in World War One.