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Review: Red Tails

01.20.2012

PLOT: The story of the Tuskegee Airmen- an all black WW2 flying unit, that, despite the inherent racism of the military at that time (segregation existed until 1949), fought its way to a distinguished war record, saving the lives of thousands of men station in flying fortresses, who they protected on bomber missions.

REVIEW: I feel like I’ve been hearing George Lucas talk about RED TAILS for decades, with the story of the Tuskegee Airmen long being a passion project of his. Significantly, it’s the first non-STAR WARS Lucasfilm since RADIOLAND MURDERS. Considering the years Lucas spent on the project (which may have included significantly reshooting part of the film himself, although Anthony Hemongway of THE WIRE is the sole credited director), one would have expected RED TAILS to come out better than it did.


Lucas has been saying that RED TAILS is basically just a modern-day version of an old John Wayne flag-waver like FLYING LEATHERNECKS, albeit with an all-black cast. Sure enough, that’s exactly what RED TAILS is (if anything, some of those films are actually less corny than this), but it begs the question- why? Considering the subject, why did Lucas set his sights so low? He could have made an epic, as the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is a thrilling, important tale that needs to be told. Yet, all we get here are about a half-dozen heavily CGI-ed dogfights that look left over from FLYBOYS (well, maybe not quite, as that was WW1) and some really goofy drama. All the stock characters are here- the stoic commander (Terrence Howard), the alcoholic squadron leader (Nate Parker- in the John Wayne role), the hotshot rebel (David Oyelowo), the kid (Tristan Wilds- of THE WIRE), the religious guy, the goofy ground mechanic (played by Andre Royo- aka Bubbles), the hideously scarred Nazi bad guy, etc. Heck, there’s even a totally unnecessary POW subplot that has a scene directly lifted from THE GREAT ESCAPE!


For what it is, RED TAILS isn’t that bad. The cast, which is a who’s who of prominent young black actors, is mostly solid, with Parker and Oyelowo being particularly good, even if the latter is essentially playing a WW2 version of Maverick from TOP GUN. But it’s infuriating that the dramatically inert RED TAILS isn’t a better film, as the premise is a great one. In fact, fifteen years ago, HBO made a phenomenal TUSKEGEE AIRMEN bio-pic starring Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr. (who also pops up here, as the second-in-command to Howard) that’s ten times the film this is, despite having a fraction of the budget. Rather than focus on the carnage Lucas thinks appeals to his STAR WARS fans (which, it should be argued, actually doesn’t if you look at the way fans reacted to the prequels), he could have made a film with a lot of heart that told an important WW2 story that never got it’s due back in its day.

As it is, RED TAILS is just a CGI-heavy action flick, with cardboard characters. It’s not awful, but it’s very mediocre, and the type of film that goes in one ear and out the other. Too bad Lucas couldn’t set his sights higher than mediocrity.

Extra Tidbit: Terrence Howard also played a Tuskegee Airman in HART'S WAR.
Source: JoBlo.com

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10:29AM on 01/22/2012

haha

Saw the film, laughed my ass off. It may fall into the "so bad it's funny" category. Reasons being;

Every scene Terrence Howard is in he has to make a speech about something.

While racism is not funny at all, somehow this movie made it hysterical. Thanks partially to Bryan Cranston (breaking bad)

The horrible, horrible, GOD DAYUM HORRIBLE! Love story thrown into this story. A US fighter pilot falls in love with an Italian girl after flying over her house. Obviously the two can see each
Saw the film, laughed my ass off. It may fall into the "so bad it's funny" category. Reasons being;

Every scene Terrence Howard is in he has to make a speech about something.

While racism is not funny at all, somehow this movie made it hysterical. Thanks partially to Bryan Cranston (breaking bad)

The horrible, horrible, GOD DAYUM HORRIBLE! Love story thrown into this story. A US fighter pilot falls in love with an Italian girl after flying over her house. Obviously the two can see each other in plain sight cause ya know.... YOU CAN SEE PEOPLE INSIDE PLANES!!! Then they seem to fall in love even though the Italian girl barely speaks a lick of English, and the US pilot barely speaks a bit of Italian...

and there's so much more. See the movie, laugh your ass off.
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5:00AM on 01/22/2012
Lucas was on The Daily Show and flat out said that he had a Prequel and Sequel ready if this does well and both are much better than this. Probably not the best thing to say when you're promoting a film.
Lucas was on The Daily Show and flat out said that he had a Prequel and Sequel ready if this does well and both are much better than this. Probably not the best thing to say when you're promoting a film.
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+1
3:31PM on 01/20/2012

wasn't Lucas' involvement

just a token credit ala Spielberg in Super 8? A lot of the reviews I'm reading as written blaming Lucas as if he made every crucial decision with the film when as far as I know he didn't do much with it...
just a token credit ala Spielberg in Super 8? A lot of the reviews I'm reading as written blaming Lucas as if he made every crucial decision with the film when as far as I know he didn't do much with it...
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5:44PM on 01/20/2012
This was Lucas' baby. He didn't write it. He did some reshoot work on the film. But he shepherded it every step of the way, and financed it personally.
This was Lucas' baby. He didn't write it. He did some reshoot work on the film. But he shepherded it every step of the way, and financed it personally.
6:15PM on 01/20/2012
You cant say that if this movie hit it big everyone would give Lucas credit. He should take just as much blame now as he would have. As an artist you should take pride in anything you attach your name to, Lucas clearly does not anymore.
You cant say that if this movie hit it big everyone would give Lucas credit. He should take just as much blame now as he would have. As an artist you should take pride in anything you attach your name to, Lucas clearly does not anymore.
1:00PM on 01/20/2012
Uwe Boll, George Lucas, Paul W.S. Anderson. Kill one, Marry one, Fuck one. GO
Uwe Boll, George Lucas, Paul W.S. Anderson. Kill one, Marry one, Fuck one. GO
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6:10PM on 01/21/2012
fuck them all
fuck them all
+0
12:05PM on 01/20/2012
Anthony Hemmingway is a good director too. I think it's time to put George out to pasture. He can curl up with those B movies and serials he loves so much.
Anthony Hemmingway is a good director too. I think it's time to put George out to pasture. He can curl up with those B movies and serials he loves so much.
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10:02AM on 01/20/2012

Lucas isn't the director of this film, Anthony Hemmingway is

You could have this mentionned somewhere in the review, even if Lucas obviously had a lot to do with the result.
You could have this mentionned somewhere in the review, even if Lucas obviously had a lot to do with the result.
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10:13AM on 01/20/2012
Read the first paragraph again in his review.
Read the first paragraph again in his review.
10:18AM on 01/20/2012
Read the review.
Read the review.
10:25AM on 01/20/2012
Reading fail
Reading fail
11:18AM on 01/20/2012
I apologize. The reviewer pretends Lucas is the director a bit too much for my taste but he did mention Hemmingway in the review and I should have caught that.
I apologize. The reviewer pretends Lucas is the director a bit too much for my taste but he did mention Hemmingway in the review and I should have caught that.
+6
9:15AM on 01/20/2012
5 out of 10 for a "passionate project" that took him 20 years to do... hmm.. that tells you something about his "quality" as a movie maker. With all due respect, do yourself (and us) a favor and retire Mr Lucas.
5 out of 10 for a "passionate project" that took him 20 years to do... hmm.. that tells you something about his "quality" as a movie maker. With all due respect, do yourself (and us) a favor and retire Mr Lucas.
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9:01AM on 01/20/2012

Indy

Hopefully this isnt a repost. Not to be a dick, but Crystal Skull was Lucasfilm i believe. I had higher hopes for this, may still check it out.
Hopefully this isnt a repost. Not to be a dick, but Crystal Skull was Lucasfilm i believe. I had higher hopes for this, may still check it out.
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+1
8:58AM on 01/20/2012
That HBO flick is really good, I'm glad you brought it up.

This reeks of Lucas ghost directing this. Who knows what Anthony Hemongway might have been like.

The trailers make it look like a videogame.
That HBO flick is really good, I'm glad you brought it up.

This reeks of Lucas ghost directing this. Who knows what Anthony Hemongway might have been like.

The trailers make it look like a videogame.
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8:47AM on 01/20/2012
How far Cuba has fallen.....
How far Cuba has fallen.....
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8:57AM on 01/20/2012
Give him some credit; at least this one ins't direct-to-video.
Give him some credit; at least this one ins't direct-to-video.
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