Masters of the Air is now three episodes in on Apple TV+ with the likes of Callum Turner, Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan leading the WWII drama.
Back by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in executive producers roles and billed as the next Band of Brothers, expectation levels for the wartime series have been sky-high.
Masters of the Air follows the story of the 100th Bomb Group during the Second World War as they battle with perilous weather conditions, early 20th-century aircraft complications and, of course, enemy opposition in the form of the Nazis.
According to Apple, the series “portrays the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich”.
A logline for the drama also teases: “Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home. Regardless of individual fate, a toll was exacted on them all.”
Each instalment arrives on the streaming platform on a weekly basis but ahead of the fourth instalment arriving this Friday, Masters of the Air appears to have lost a number of first-time watchers.
Masters of the Air on Apple: Barry Keoghan is one of the show’s leading stars
And there’s a recurring theme among the complaints of Apple TV+ viewers – the CGI used to recreate the conditions in 1940s Europe.
In several scenes, Butler and co are shown engaging in firefights in mid-air while doing their best to keep their Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses on course.
The graphics and acting involved in said scenes have left a lot to be desired by some armchair critics, including one X user who fumed: “Ok, what the f*** is this supposed to be #MastersOfTheAir? Ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene… Bad CGI and even worse acting, generic, unemotional soundtrack, ChatGPT dialogue… I had low expectations, but this… Wow.”
“I’m going to put it out there – I’m not liking #MastersOfTheAir – the CGI and acting is terrible,” a second echoed while a third had a similar assessment: “I’m pretty disappointed with #MastersOfTheAir so far.
Masters of the Air backlash: The Apple drama has come under for its graphics
“Rough CGI. Indistinguishable characters with barely any backstories. It’s nothing like Band of Brothers which gave the characters a lot of individual personality.”
Another raised their concerns with the graphics as they added: “Watched first 2 eps of #MastersOfTheAir last night – looks incredible but ultra HD/Saturated Colour/Uncanny CGI make it all feel too ‘clean’ and computer game-like. There’s no grit, no grain.”
The CGI was criticised by a fifth who fumed: “As feared, #MastersOfTheAir is totally let down by dreadful CGI. Did no-one actually think to watch how a fully-laden B-17 takes off? Too many of the scenes (and lines) feel like direct lifts from Memphis Belle. I’ll stick with it, being a Mighty Eighth geek, but such a let down.”
However, amid the fury was some who felt the drama deserved some defence, including one viewer who argued: “There are a lot of very justified criticisms that can be leveled against #MastersOfTheAir but seeing the air battle scenes with modern CGI is pretty breathtaking.”
Austin Butler leads the cast in Apple’s Masters of the Air
A second also lauded: “An excellent episode of #MastersOfTheAir! Totally showed the horrors of war… The CGI is just at another level, truly transports me into the air.”
And a third encouraged: “#MastersOfTheAir is such a good show! Definitely a must-watch if you have Apple TV.” (sic)
The depiction of the B-17s may have come under fire by some viewers but executive producer Gary Goetzman told Apple just how much work went into trying to ensure it looked as authentic as possible.
In a behind-the-scenes feature, he said: “We did find a few B-17s in the world that do occasionally fly. But they weren’t gonna get us through production, so we built two B-17s.
“The combination of the construction of the plane, with content walls, gave the boys the real feeling of fighters going by and shooting at them. And I think it helped their reactions, and them really feeling what the terror might be like.”
His fellow EP Chris Seagers also revealed the arduous efforts the crew went to: “We ended up building full exteriors, and then all the interior pieces. That was, pretty much, a year’s work.”