The Aviator (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Aviator2004

The Aviator (2004)



Critic Consensus: With a rich sense of period detail, The Aviator succeeds thanks to typically assured direction from Martin Scorsese and a strong performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, who charts Howard Hughes' descent from eccentric billionaire to reclusive madman.

The Aviator Photos

Movie Info

Martin Scorsese directed this fast-moving, epic-scale biopic documenting the life and loves one of the most colorful Americans of the 20th century, Howard Hughes. The Aviator follows Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) as the twentysomething millionaire, having already made a fortune improving the design of oil-drilling bits, comes to Hollywood with an interest in getting into the picture business. It doesn't take long for Hughes, with his passion for airplanes, to jump from producer to director of his first major film project, a World War I air epic called Hell's Angels, which took three years to complete thanks to the shift from silent to sound filming and Hughes' relentless perfectionism. However, the film was a massive hit, and the eccentric inventor became a mogul in Hollywood, making Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) a star and enjoying a romance with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). But Hollywood's old-boy network never fully accepted Hughes, and in time his passion for flying began to reclaim his attentions as he began designing new planes, setting air speed records, flying around the world, and risking his life testing aircraft. Hughes also found time to romance Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) and founded his own airline, Trans-World Airlines, though as his ideas became bolder, his approach became more eccentric, and he gained many powerful enemies, including the head of Pan-American Airlines, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), and Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (Alan Alda), who attempted to prove that Hughes' radical design ideas were actually part of an effort to bilk taxpayers for millions of dollars through government contracts. The Aviator's star-studded cast also includes John C. Reilly, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm, and Frances Conroy. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Watch it now


Leonardo DiCaprio
as Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett
as Katharine Hepburn
Kate Beckinsale
as Ava Gardner
John C. Reilly
as Noah Dietrich
Alec Baldwin
as Juan Trippe
Ian Holm
as Professor Fitz
Alan Alda
as Sen. Ralph Owen Brewster
Danny Huston
as Jack Frye
Gwen Stefani
as Jean Harlow
Jude Law
as Errol Flynn
Adam Scott
as Johnny Meyer
Matt Ross
as Glenn Odekirk
Kelli Garner
as Faith Domergue
Frances Conroy
as Mrs. Hepburn
Brent Spiner
as Robert Gross
Stanley DeSantis
as Louis B. Mayer
Edward Herrmann
as Joseph Breen
Willem Dafoe
as Roland Sweet
Amy Sloan
as Allene Hughes
Kenneth Welsh
as Dr. Hepburn
Nellie Sciutto
as Secretary
View All

Critic Reviews for The Aviator

All Critics (228) | Top Critics (59)

The Aviator does make for a rather fascinating and compelling stand-alone story about an industrious, fastidious, obsessive man...

January 8, 2019 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Good but not great, and not for younger kids.

December 28, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

This handsome movie is an oddly well-behaved one to come from the preternaturally energetic Scorsese.

February 3, 2010 | Full Review…

This almost-great epic has one foot in legend: it's a vision of an American titan that could have sprung from the insides of Hughes's own obsessive, perfectionist head.

November 1, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Despite a pacy, technically brilliant but otherwise slightly ordinary first half-hour or so, Scorsese's Howard Hughes movie is his best since The Age of Innocence.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Scorsese gives us a lot more than the Charles Foster Kane of the clouds. He keeps focus on Hughes, the dreamer, who continually reached out, grabbed the future and pulled it toward him.

January 17, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Aviator

Scorsese and DiCaprio make a formidable duo in this intricate biopic. The Aviator puts together Scorsese's masterful and colorful direction along with DiCaprio's career-defining performance to make for a classical film. 4/5

Eugene Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

It's quite a good performance by DiCaprio but overall the film is not that compelling and, unfortunately, is too long.

Wildaly M
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

An interesting biopic well-acted by DiCaprio. Nothing very bold about the film but it is well shot.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

The Aviator Quotes

News & Features