Powerful and Epic: ‘Masters of the Air’ Takes Flight on Apple TV+

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After a long wait, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Steven Spielberg have finally brought their third World War II series to the small screen. “Masters of the Air,” based on the book of the same name by Donald L. Miller, has arrived on Apple TV+, boasting a mammoth ensemble cast and a high-flying narrative.

The series centers around the 100th Bomb Group stationed at RAF Thorpe Abbotts in England during the war. Referred to as the “Bloody Hundredth” due to its high casualties, the 100th was a crucial force on the European front.

One of the challenges faced by the series’ writers was the sheer number of characters. With countless heroic young white men in cramped quarters, it became difficult to distinguish one from another. While the ensemble is vast, the recognizable figures are fewer compared to its predecessors, “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific.”

The dual leads of the show are Austin Butler’s Gale “Buck” Cleven and Callum Turner’s John “Bucky” Egan. While Cleven falls a bit short in terms of character development, Turner emerges as the show’s true star with his compelling performance.

The production value of “Masters of the Air” is outstanding. The combat scenes, although slightly lacking in weight due to computer-generated effects, still manage to capture the claustrophobic and harrowing experience of war. The series looks spectacular, thanks to the cinematography team and the meticulous attention to detail in production design and costumes.

However, “Masters of the Air” does have its flaws. The structure of the show becomes repetitive after a while, with a formulaic pattern of mission briefing, chaotic mission, mourning, and hope for the war’s end. Additionally, the injection of female characters feels forced, as they are primarily used as vehicles for the male protagonists’ understanding of the consequences of war.

Despite its flaws, “Masters of the Air” is a triumph of production and storytelling. It offers a nostalgic and invigorating portrayal of a time when ideology was driven by moral convictions. The patriotism in the show is rooted in a genuine sense of pride rather than jingoism.

In conclusion, “Masters of the Air” may not be as consistent or as outstanding as its predecessors, but it still manages to soar to great heights when it hits the right notes. The series is a testament to the craftsmanship behind it and embodies the spirit of American exceptionalism in a captivating and inspiring way.