Review of Red Tails

Posted: January 20, 2012 by tmepost in Movies, Reviews

By Sean McQuillan

Directed by Anthony Hemingway

Produced by Rick McCallum, Charles Floyd Johnson, and George Lucas

Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Terrence Howard, Daniela Ruah, Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Ryan Early, Method Man, Elijah Kelley, and Ne-Yo

Studio: Lucasfilm

Genre: Action, Historical

Red Tails is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, one of the first groups of African American fighter pilots in World War II.  You see them as they deal with danger in the skies, and prejudice on the ground.  More than that, you see into the lives of men who fought for their country when their country thought they were worthless.

 

If you’ve heard of this movie you’ve probably heard that it’s brought to you by George Lucas and Lucasfilm.  Ignore that.  Just toss it out the window and enjoy this movie for what it is, and well away from the expectations, High or Low, that come with that.  Lucas didn’t direct this, and this movie holds its own, and is a very enjoyable piece worth a watch to anyone who can get a chance to see it.

The movie is not without flaws, but I’d like to talk first about what I loved most, the cast.  This may be one of the first all black action movie, but none of it feels trite or cliché.  Sure we’ve seen a lot of these prejudices before, but the cast of airman are a diverse and believable bunch.  The ones that steal the show are Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr.  Both of these actors have previously played Tuskegee Airmen, and they dominate the scenes they’re in and especially the ones they share.  It’s just my hope that, were there ever to be a sequel, we don’t see Howard replaced by Don Cheadle again.

As for the effects, we have very believable looking planes and the cockpit scenes are awesome.  The dogfights show you the craziness that these airmen flew through.  While the acrobatics are great, they almost always pull view out to show the outside of the planes, rather than the pilot’s perspective through the cockpit.  I know it’s probably due to not wanting to make moviegoers motion sick, but I feel it would have improved the immersion.  One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb however, is the font they have for the opening and closing messages.  It’s a tacky flat red font that looks like a high school AV student added it to the film at the last minute.

As for the story, this is where my one big complaint comes in.  The movie starts off right in the middle of an aerial battle, with people dying left and right, and then it just cuts away.  No resolution on that fight, or the airmen they showed clinging to the insides of their planes as they tumbled out of the sky.  None of the Red Tails are in this scene, and it isn’t till much later we learn why we even had to watch it.  I feel that the airman’s first third of the movie is really bland and predictable.  Once we see them finally get into proper action the whole movie picks up and gets good the rest of the way.  You really see these men are not action movie stock characters.  They are real men, and you feel the anxiety in some of the battles.  I found myself gripping my armrests and I got pretty choked up towards the end.

I give it a full price.  Go and see it!

If you want to see other Tuskegee Airmen movies, you can watch Gooding in The Tuskegee Airman, and HBO movie, or Hart’s War with Howard.

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