The new Apple TV+ series “Masters of the Air” sees Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks reviving their acclaimed brand of World War II prestige television for the streaming era. The series, which was executive produced by both men and concludes a loose trilogy that began with “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” follows 10 young Air Force pilots operating a bomber outnumbered by German planes during the darkest days of the war.
The series — like the shows that preceded it — is defined by its blend of patriotism and brutality, honoring America’s veterans without sugarcoating what they endured. It’s a formula that Hanks and Spielberg have been perfecting since releasing “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998. And when it was time to begin filming, Hanks shared some wisdom with his cast about making effective war dramas.
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In a new interview with the New York Post, “Masters of the Air” star Anthony Boyle recalled the advice that Hanks gave him after he joined the project.
“I remember before filming began sitting down with Tom and him telling me, ‘Don’t lean into sentimentality or solemnity — these were boys who were just trying to do what was right. They didn’t walk around thinking they were war heroes, which they were. They were just trying to save the world — and they did,” Boyle said.
While “Masters of the Air” generated plenty of initial buzz due to its acclaimed predecessors and high-profile cast, its critical reception has not lived up to the standard set by “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.”
“‘Band of Brothers’ emerged from Hanks and Spielberg’s collaboration on ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ Even after making a three-hour war movie with an expansive cast and considerable scope, they (presumably) realized there were still plenty of stories left untold,” IndieWire’s Ben Travers wrote in his “Masters of the Air” review. “TV provides so much time to honor those stories, as ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘The Pacific,’ and ‘Masters of the Air’ intend to do with their deeply respectful odes to American heroism. But the third part of the trilogy is over-invested in recreating what we’ve seen before and under-invested in what made those previous series so impactful. It’s not the carnage or the spectacle. It’s the men. And the men in ‘Masters of the Air’ never come down to earth.”
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