Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In the waning days of World War II, the allies are on the verge of crushing Berlin but the battle in the Pacific still rages on. Something needs to be done to end this war, to convince the Japanese that it would be in their best interest to surrender, and quickly. But we’re getting ahead ourselves. The name of this movie is ‘Warbirds’ and not only is it a WWII movie, but it’s also a Sci-Fi Channel original that contains most of what comes with being a Sci-Fi Channel original. This can’t be a good thing… but not so fast my friends…

Say hello to hardcore WAC pilot Ms. Max West (Jamie Elle Mann) and her crew of perfectly coiffed, beautifully made up charges who are in the process of ferrying a brand new B-29 Bomber from point A to its destination in Hawaii. The plan for the ladies when they touch down is to deliver this plane and then enjoy some mojito’s on the beach.

So much for that.

Seems Max’s commanding officer has a quick turnaround mission for our ladies. Jump back in the plane and ferry super stern Army Colonel Jack Toller (Brian Krause), his men and their cargo on a secret mission. Max isn’t happy about this, but whaddayagonnado? Back in the plane they head off to destinations unknown.

The flight is a rocky one, and the weather outside is frightful. Max strongly suggest to the colonel that they divert their course but the colonel is pretty damned adamant about this not happening, even going so far as to pull out his firearm on the pretty lady. Then there’s the odd thing that co-pilot Betsy (Shauna Rappold) sees flying in the storm that takes out one of the B-29’s engines. Now it’s time for a crash landing on the beach of a nearby atoll. You’re average pilot probably couldn’t land a B-29 with two flaming engines on a sandy beach with a 200ft. runway. Maxine West… Best Pilot Ever.

Tragically, one of our crew members has already expired, but not to worry… more will follow. It doesn’t take but a moment out of the plane for our crew to first encounter a quartet of Japanese Insurgents, quickly followed by the real enemy on this island, a crap load of prehistoric dragons. Now our quartet of insurgents has become a trio, and Murph (Jon McCarthy) has big gashes on his back. Murph… most common WWII soldier name ever.

Flying prehistoric monsters is bad and all, but Colonel Toller has a mission to finish come hell or high water and he’s not going to let no insubordinate cutie pie, a sneaky Japanese captain (Tohoru Masamune) or dragons who shouldn’t exist stop him on this mission. Fortunately for the colonel, Max has a plan. Unfortunately this plan needs the cute upstart pilot miss Hoodsie (Lucy Faust) to fly the plane to make it happen. Because Hoodsie weighs less than 105 lbs. Looking at the girl I don’t think Hoodsie really weighs less than 105 pounds. Regardless Hoodsie’s never kissed a boy before and loves her parents. I don’t think Hoodsie is gonna make it.

Nonetheless, we still have the colonel and his secret mission… and the dragons are multiplying like rabbits. What, pray tell, is in the secret cargo in the bomb bay that could change the course of the war? Or, perhaps, kill up a bunch of prehistoric flying dragons?

‘Warbirds’, written and directed by Kevin Gendreau, was the next in line in our efforts to watch every Sci-Fi Channel movie ever made, an effort hindered by the channels relentless output meaning we’ll probably never get above water on this mission. As we mentioned before, for the most part ‘Warbirds’ is atypical Sci-Fi original fare with its often suspect special effects, a wacky script, a few mindboggling plot points here and there, and some suspect science… but I don’t know… there was something about this one that seemed to make it better than the majority of them.

Maybe it was the hair and makeup artists and their ability to make all of our actresses look like some version of Rita Hayworth, and the fact that no matter what kind of hell our flying ladies were going through, they always managed to keep their lips in perfect condition. Or perhaps it was actor Brian Krause, and while we can’t vouch for the man’s acting ability, we can vouch for his ability to be stern and mean looking. He’s got that down cold. Then there was a touch of nuclear social commentary thrown in as our heroes wrestled over the destruction of The Bomb and our noble Japanese captain’s realization of what was in the secret cargo hold. We also liked the fact that the colonel and our tough pilot had no sexual chemistry going on between them, which would’ve been unnecessary and just gotten in the way. Mostly though, it was the fact that Kevin Gendreau and his editor cut this movie in way that kept it moving, kept it in motion, and kept the downtime down to a minimum. Remember low budget B-movie auteur… down time is your enemy. The less time the audience has to think about how stupid your movie might be, the better it is for all of us.

But… if you see a bunch of dinosaur dragon eggs… crush them. Just a thought. Can an atomic bomb detonate simply by opening the bomb bay? I’m just asking. Can a B-29 and a Zero realistically outrun a mushroom cloud? And would the parts of the planes be interchangeable? Again, I don’t know. Just asking.

There’s more silliness in ‘Warbirds’ but on our generous curving sliding Sci-Fi movie scale, different from the regular movie scale as I’m sure you know, we’d have to give this one an A-minus. Note that this movie came out in 2008, so four years have passed since we loaded it up on the DVD player, and they haven’t let Kevin Gendreau direct another Sci-Fi original since, even though it looks to us he might be the most talented guy they have on staff. What’s up with that?

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