The Aviator (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Aviator (2004)



Critic Consensus: With a rich sense of period detail, The Aviator succeeds thanks to typically assured direction from Martin Scorsese and a strong performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who charts Howard Hughes' descent from eccentric billionaire to reclusive madman.

Movie Info

Martin Scorsese directed this fast-moving, epic-scale biopic documenting the life and loves one of the most colorful Americans of the 20th century, Howard Hughes. The Aviator follows Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) as the twentysomething millionaire, having already made a fortune improving the design of oil-drilling bits, comes to Hollywood with an interest in getting into the picture business. It doesn't take long for Hughes, with his passion for airplanes, to jump from producer to director of his first major film project, a World War I air epic called Hell's Angels, which took three years to complete thanks to the shift from silent to sound filming and Hughes' relentless perfectionism. However, the film was a massive hit, and the eccentric inventor became a mogul in Hollywood, making Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) a star and enjoying a romance with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). But Hollywood's old-boy network never fully accepted Hughes, and in time his passion for flying began to reclaim his attentions as he began designing new planes, setting air speed records, flying around the world, and risking his life testing aircraft. Hughes also found time to romance Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) and founded his own airline, Trans-World Airlines, though as his ideas became bolder, his approach became more eccentric, and he gained many powerful enemies, including the head of Pan-American Airlines, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), and Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), who attempted to prove that Hughes' radical design ideas were actually part of an effort to bilk taxpayers for millions of dollars through government contracts. The Aviator's star-studded cast also includes John C. Reilly, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, and Frances Conroy. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and crash sequence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Logan
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 24, 2005
Box Office: $102.6M
Miramax - Official Site


Leonardo DiCaprio
as Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett
as Katharine Hepburn
Kate Beckinsale
as Ava Gardner
John C. Reilly
as Noah Dietrich
Alec Baldwin
as Juan Trippe
Ian Holm
as Professor Fitz
Alan Alda
as Sen. Ralph Owen Brew...
Danny Huston
as Jack Frye
Gwen Stefani
as Jean Harlow
Jude Law
as Errol Flynn
Adam Scott
as Johnny Meyer
Matt Ross
as Glenn Odekirk
Kelli Garner
as Faith Domergue
Frances Conroy
as Mrs. Hepburn
Brent Spiner
as Robert Gross
Edward Herrmann
as Joseph Breen
Willem Dafoe
as Roland Sweet
Amy Sloan
as Allene Hughes
Kenneth Walsh
as Dr. Hepburn
Nellie Sciutto
as Secretary
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Aviator

Critic Reviews for The Aviator

All Critics (215) | Top Critics (48)

This handsome movie is an oddly well-behaved one to come from the preternaturally energetic Scorsese.

Full Review… | February 3, 2010
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This almost-great epic has one foot in legend: it's a vision of an American titan that could have sprung from the insides of Hughes's own obsessive, perfectionist head.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

Despite a pacy, technically brilliant but otherwise slightly ordinary first half-hour or so, Scorsese's Howard Hughes movie is his best since The Age of Innocence.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's a measure of The Aviator's complexity and ambiguity that it can be read equally as a celebration of rugged, capitalist individualism and as a leftist critique of cutthroat free-market competition.

Full Review… | September 26, 2005
AV Club
Top Critic

Its primary appeal is its speed: It rushes along, from scandal to air crash to movie romance to Senate hearing, each anecdote well realized but never tarried over.

Full Review… | May 20, 2005
Washington Post
Top Critic

This undoubtedly is the movie Scorsese set out to make, and he made it exceedingly well. Still, we can fault him for choosing to celebrate its subject instead of examining him.

Full Review… | April 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Aviator

Scorsese and DiCaprio make a formidable duo in this intricate biopic. The Aviator puts together Scorsese's masterful and colorful direction along with DiCaprio's career-defining performance to make for a classical film. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

It's quite a good performance by DiCaprio but overall the film is not that compelling and, unfortunately, is too long.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

An interesting biopic well-acted by DiCaprio. Nothing very bold about the film but it is well shot.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

The Aviator Quotes

Howard Hughes: You want to go to war with me?
Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster: It's not me, Howard. It's the United States Government. We just beat Germany and Japan. Who the hell are you?
– Submitted by MarieBella C (3 years ago)
Noah Dietrich: I've gotta tell you, the board over in Houston has been getting a little concerned about the cost of this operation out here.
Howard Hughes: Ah! would you stop showing them the books, Noah?
Noah Dietrich: That be illegal Howard
Howard Hughes: Well, maybe it's a little naughty.
– Submitted by MarieBella C (3 years ago)
Katharine Hepburn: I've been famous - for better or worse - for a long time now... I wonder if you know what that really means.
Howard Hughes: Yeah, I got my fair share of press on Hell's Angels. I'm used to it.
Katharine Hepburn: Are you? Howard, we're not like everyone else. Too many acute angles. Too many eccentricities. We have to be very careful not to let people in or they'll make us into freaks.
Howard Hughes: Kate, they can't get in here. We're safe.
Katharine Hepburn: Oh they can always get in. When my brother killed himself there were photographers at the funeral. There's no decency to it!
Howard Hughes: You know I get these ideas Kate these crazy ideas about things that might not be there.
Katharine Hepburn: Yeah
Howard Hughes: Sometimes I truly feel like I'm losing my mind and if I did it would be like flying blind.
Katharine Hepburn: You taught me to fly Howard, I'll take the wheel.
– Submitted by MarieBella C (3 years ago)
Howard Hughes: The way of the future, the way of the future, the way of the future...
– Submitted by Nova Q (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Aviator on our Movie forum!