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Red Tails
BLU-RAY disk
Jul 3, 2012 By: J.A. Hamilton
Red Tails order download
Director:
Anthony Hemingway

Actors:
Nate Parker
Terrence Howard
Cuba Gooding Jr.

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When times get tough in Europe during World War 2, an African American team of soldiers from the Tuskegee training program are called into action to help escort and protect B52 Bombers, rising up against discrimination in hopes of proving themselves in the field of battle.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I'm certainly not a historian, but my great grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War 2 so I've heard more than a few stories of courage, honor and valor. I have no doubt that these men fought bravely and deserve recognition...but not like this. There's a thin line between retelling a historical event and embellishing upon a historical event to entertain. RED TAILS is most definitely the latter. For me, this feels like it should've been more of a drama in the vein of HBO's THE PACIFIC, and with all the love the production crew preach for THE WIRE in the special features, I'm a little surprised they didn't go that route. If only they had, we could've ended up with something special rather than this awkward mess.

On the one hand, the dog fights did feel realistic, if not a bit "STAR WARS over the top", which considering George Lucas is attached, should come as no surprise. If you blotched out the sky and put in a space background then colored the planes to look like STAR WARS ships, you'd almost swear he took these fights straight out of that series. The train derailing was also a pretty cool stunt, so visually I'm giving this thing a thumbs up, but as far as everything else goes (lame story, terrible dialogue and a drastically uneven tone), I'm going all Rick James and giving them four thumbs down. I just don't get it, Lucas was raving about this flick, saying this was the kind of picture he'd been looking forward to doing as it could be taken slow and given the right level finesse. Did I miss it? There's no finesse here.

RED TAILS ultimately fails because it brings nothing new to this old equation that hasn't been done many times over (despite the fact this is an all African American crew of pilots), and these characters lack the depth they no doubt have in real life which doesn't have you rooting for them as much as you should (the real life accounts from these soldiers in the special features is where it's really at). The acting was alright from veterans like Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and my man, Bryan "Mr. White" Cranston (I love how he's pulling a Sammy Jackson and popping up everywhere these days), but it's not nearly good enough to outweigh all the phony ridiculousness squeezed in here. I'd been curious to see this flick simply because of how much Lucas was beefing it up, but I have to say, I'm disappointed.
THE EXTRAS
Double Victory: The Tuskegee Airmen at War: Here we get an in-depth look behind the scenes at what trial and tribulations these men truly faced with some real life input and accounts from some of the men themselves. This is where the meat and bones of the story are, and if the film could've captured even a sliver of this energy it would've been magical. Sadly, it didn't.

George Lucas: Executive Producer: Three minutes of George Lucas boasting and rambling on = who the hell cares. Seriously, we get it George, go back to retiring.

Anthony Hemingway: Director: The director takes a couple minutes to beef up the film and Lucas complete with a couple hugs. I don't see what he's so damn excited about.

Terence Blanchard: Composer: A very brief nod to the film's score, which again, was alright but nothing spectacular. These three bits shouldn't have been separated, at three minutes a piece they just look like added filler to trick us into thinking this Blu-ray has a lot of special features. Sigh.

The Cast of Red Tails: Here we get some insight into the cast choices and a fair bit of props to HBO's THE WIRE (which I still haven't watched yet but want to). Again, I think they should've went to HBO for this and made a proper mini-series out of it, but that's just me.

Movie Magic: Seeing the time and effort that went into the effects, specifically the dog fights, the train and many explosions was great and seeing as how Lucasfilm prides themselves on ground breaking special effects, I would expect no less.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I'm not in love with war movies, but even the weakest plots can come together if you twist the blade just right (DEFIANCE) and make it interesting. This just isn't interesting, it's bland, predictable and instantly forgettable. I thought PEARL HARBOUR went on forever, but at least I was engaged enough to care about the characters. Here, not so much.
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