Put simply: I watched Biggles when I was a young boy in the cinema in the eighties. Therefore, I loved it. Of course, now, through adult's eyes, I can spot all its – numerous – failings, but I still love it nonetheless.
First of all, for those of you still under the misapprehension that Biggles was simply a series of books about a fictional First World War pilot, you may find that he's changed slightly on the big screen. Yes, he's still a loop-the-looping daredevil of the skies, but he also travels through time. Or rather a rather down-on-this-luck marketing executive in nineteen-eighties New York keeps slipping through a hole in time to help out Biggles whenever he gets into a jam. And here we learn about 'time twins' – two people from different eras who inexplicably appear next to each other whenever the other is in danger.
If you can forgive the minor straying from the source material, it's actually quite good fun – if you're in the mood for eighties cheese. And it is very eighties. The music is electro, completely over the top and doesn't fit the mood in the slightest (okay, it may be okay for the scenes set in the eighties, but watching a World War One battle to prog-new romantic whatever music is a little off-putting). It was like the film-makers were trying to recapture the style (or should that be 'style?') of Flash Gordon with its Queen soundtrack.
Plus you have the rather unfortunate choice in leading man. No, not Biggles, even though he should technically BE the leading man. Instead, and cynically some might say in order to sell it to our American cousins, the story is more about Jim – our overworked marketing exec from the Big Apple. The problem is he's just pretty wooden really. He's being dragged this way and that through time and his expression never really changes. Biggles would have been a better – but possibly less bankable – star in his own right.
But, even if you detest some of the casting choices, you still have the awesome dogfights between bi-planes. Biggles was made well before the advent of CGI and the use of real planes is pretty breathtaking (even to the sound of eighties electro!). And of course you have Peter Cushine – he's still got it, even though he looks a little tired now and it's no surprise to learn that this was his last on-screen role.
If you saw (and loved!) Biggles in the eighties, everything you loved about it will still be there. If you're coming to it fresh then you may wonder what you've let yourself in for. Fans of a severe overdose of eighties cheese only. If you liked Flash Gordon or Masters of the Universe, you may want to also put this one on your radar.
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