Masters of the Air review round-up: Does Spielberg's Apple TV Plus Band of Brothers follow up soar or bomb?

Masters of the Air
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Masters of the Air, one of the most anticipated Apple TV Plus Originals of 2024, finally arrived on the streaming service over the weekend. But is it one of the best shows on Apple TV Plus?

With the first two episodes now available to stream, the miniseries created by John Shiban and John Orloff with executive producers Gary Goetzman, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Hanks has received a mixed response from critics and viewers alike.

The show currently has an 83% on the Rotten Tomatoes Critics Tomatometer, with a 69% average audience score.

The Washington Post says the World War II epic “aims high — and bombs,” with the critic adding the show “careens between disorientating realism and parodically on-the nose WW2 clichés.”

USA Today shares a similar sentiment: "Austin Butler's WWII epic 'Masters of the Air' is way too slow off the runway.” The review critiques the editing of the show, highlighting the slow start as a real pain point. “But it takes too long. People are busy. It's cold outside. There are 5 million things competing for our attention. And there are a lot of movies and TV shows about World War II already. "Masters" has to stand out to succeed. But I fear it is doomed from the start by a lack of proper editing.”

CNN continues with the negative reviews, with the outlet stating the show “never quite finds its target,” highlighting the lack of character depth from the star-studded cast.

Some positives

It’s not all bad news for Masters of the Air, however, with Vanity Fair a huge fan of the show. The review calls the Apple Original “a harrowing, sky-bound Band of Brothers,” which is a massive compliment considering the success of the 2001 war drama miniseries also featuring Spielberg and Hanks on its credits.

Slate says the series is like “visiting a history museum with an older relative,” which I guess depends on how interesting your old relative is and how good a museum you’re attending.

While we’ve not started watching the nine-part miniseries at iMore yet, there is hope that the show manages to turn around the bumpy lift-off and starts to reach the heights of the aforementioned Band of Brothers, which is heralded as one of the best war dramas ever to grace the screen.

Masters of the Air is available on Apple TV Plus, streaming episodes weekly until the finale on March 15.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.