Friday, 22 March 2013

No.82 : The Arrow

The Arrow at the IMDb

Sorry fans of verdant archers this one is about the development of a Canadian plane, but hang about there maybe some bow work later (there won’t).

This film was originally a 4 part mini-series and one of the most watched TV shows in Canadian TV history - presumably ‘Moose Hunting Hour’ was cancelled that week. The version I saw was a pared down 90 minutes and although it was passable, I was in no way inclined to seek out the 4 hour cut.

The film concerns the ‘Avro Arrow’ a fighter plane developed in Canada in the 1950’s. The plane is the veritable bee’s knees but every engineering triumph is offset by bungling bosses, conniving politicians and Dan Aykroyd’s love of the bottle.

The cut I saw bypassed much of the initial development and largely focused on the testing and attempted selling of the jet, whose manufacturer at the time was the third biggest employer in Canada; behind the hockey stick and lumberjack industries.

The characters are largely based on real people, who are profiled at the end, as well as some composite characters made up to represent some of the contributions from minority groups such as ‘all the women’. The first drama concerns the go-getting pilot who is usurped from the inaugural flights by a ‘celebrity’ flyboy whose endorsement will sell the plane. The initial numbers are good but Elwood Blues is keen to hold back until his own engine is online, less the glory goes to the American engine maker he’s currently using.

This turns out to the first of many missteps from the Blues Brother as other vested interests such as the dad out of ‘The Sound of Music’ and the always great Michael Ironside start to spread gossip about our favourite plane. With terrible timing Dan’s wife does a bunk and the bevvied bluesman soon starts to make a tit of himself with the Canadian Prime Minister, no less.

Pretty soon, despite breaking all the records, the axe falls on the Arrow and we have to worry if some made up stuff will save the Arrow from the scrap yard as the film veers from docu-drama to fantasy at MACH 3.

‘The Arrow’ was an OK effort but it’s agenda was plain to see and the bad guys were thinly painted as moustache twirling idiots while the airmen were all solid square jaw types. The attempts to show the American aviation industry as villains for pushing their own agenda was ridiculous as was the actions of Aykroyd and the Canadian PM who couldn’t have been more broadly drawn if they’d resurrected Laurel & Hardy for the roles.

The film also displayed a lack of budget and indeed imagination as archive news footage was intercut with shot film on a totally different stock, that obviously didn’t match up. The vital flight shots were also poor with some obvious model work and again old footage showing the ill-fated fighter in the air This is understandable given the fate of the planes, but it certainly takes you out of the fantasy when you are trying to see the strings.

The acting was ropey throughout with Aykroyd’s dipsomaniac draughtsman the worst, although he had some awful dialogue to contend with. The tacked on ‘will they, won’t they’ romance was totally without chemistry and the weasely politicians might as well had had Hitler moustaches given their depth and downright evil self-interest.

Overall I quite like the dreamy aspirations of ‘The Arrow’ but as a real world tale it didn’t take off for me and its simplistic view of economics and politics made this one for an early ditching at sea.

THE Tag Line : Plane Game Pain Gives Viewer Lame Brain

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