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The Aviator (2004)


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 213
Fresh: 186
Rotten: 27

Critics 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.

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 39
Rotten: 9

Critics 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.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 204,089


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 … More

PG-13 (for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and crash sequence)
Directed By:
Written By:
John Logan
In Theaters:
May 24, 2005
Box Office:
Miramax - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Aviator

All Critics (214) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (186) | Rotten (27) | DVD (40)

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

Good but not great, and not for younger kids.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

It's all rather sprawling and a bit disjointed, but Scorsese's vigorous pacing and eye for detail hold it all together and provide a vivid setting for DiCaprio's masterful performance (his best work yet).

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

Scorsese's most engaged and engaging filmmaking in a while.

Full Review… | July 23, 2007

Its plot moves from event to event without a story driving it and the audience is left drifting along.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

All tabloid style gloss accessorized with brassy special effects, and bloated storytelling based loosely on period gossip.

Full Review… | February 8, 2007
WBAI Web Radio

full review in Greek

Full Review… | October 3, 2006
Movies for the Masses

It's almost predictable in the way it delivers the cinematic goods, yet there's no denying that it is a compelling and entertaining look at a larger-than-life individual.

September 1, 2006
Christianity Today

The Aviator feels like old-fashioned Hollywood with a bracing jolt of Scorsese's cinematic flair

Full Review… | August 19, 2006
Cinema Writer

Scorsese gives us a lot more than the Charles Foster Kane of the clouds. He keeps focus on Hughes, the dreamer, who continually reached out, grabbed the future and pulled it toward him.

Full Review… | January 17, 2006
Sydney Morning Herald

Beneath the glossy surface there's a niggling lack of depth, but otherwise this is a grand, impressive Tinseltown drama.

Full Review… | June 25, 2005
Empire Magazine

A tremendous success.

June 2, 2005

The Aviator is more than entertaining and engrossing enough to keep you interested ... for at least 130 minutes or so.

Full Review… | May 24, 2005

Regardless of the fact that The Aviator may not be Scorsese's best work, it is unquestionably a creative piece of moviemaking.

Full Review… | May 13, 2005
Movie Metropolis

If the folks who made Hollywood were going to make a movie today it would be made like The Aviator.

Full Review… | April 27, 2005
3BlackChicks Review

Audience Reviews for The Aviator

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

Leonardo DiCaprio is stunning in the role of Howard Hughes, a millionaire film director at heart, but his soul is within his aviation career, building planes for the war. This film may not be perfect, but the writing and direction is. The flaws are in the plot and order of events. With questionable dialogue and cheap CG effects, "The Aviator" might as well be a fictional story, but the backstory of this legendary director/aviator is far too compelling to look away from. I cannot say that I love this film, but I absolutely loved the camerawork and the performances. "The Aviator" is but a fantastic film to add to the Scorsese shelf, but fails to provide any spectacular moments to remember in the future. I highly enjoyed this film for what it was!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


'The Aviator' doesn't go deep enough into the enigmatic character to make you truly care about him, which is a problem given that its almost three hours. Still, Scorsese knows how to make authentic, larger-than-life scenes and he also gets a lot of mileage out of the talented cast.

Sam Barnett
Sam Barnett

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 (2 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 (2 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:
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 (2 years ago)
Howard Hughes:
The way of the future, the way of the future, the way of the future...
– Submitted by Nova Q (2 years ago)
Howard Hughes:
Good, and you made what, $5200 dollas a year at your last job? I'll pay you ten thousand.
Noah Dietrich:
I guess i'll be working teice as hard.
Howard Hughes:
You'll be working four times as hard. I just got you at half price.
– Submitted by kateo l (2 years ago)
Howard Hughes:
Don't tell me I can't do it. Don't tell me it can't be done.
– Submitted by kateo l (2 years ago)

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