It’s been a while since we’ve last seen a movie made by George Lucas, at least one that didn’t involve Star Wars on Spike. However, this weekend Lucas has come out of the woodwork to show off his newest project called Red Tails. This self-funded movie, designed to be a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, showed promises of action and excitement. The question one may now be asking is: Did the movie deliver or has the trailers once again deceived us? To find the answer to this question, read on.
This World War II epic starts out with adrenaline rushing action as we get a look at the problems the American forces face. German troops, in their combat planes, fly in and tear up the bomber squadrons, as the heavy planes attempt to defend themselves in a style similar to the Millennium Falcon turret scene from Star Wars. The solution is the elite fighter pilot squadron of the Tuskegee airmen, a group of African Americans who consist of Easy (Nate Parker), Lightning (David Oyelowo), Joker (Elijah Kelley), and Junior (Tristan Wilds). The four men have been doing low-key missions for the government and, like most of the pilots, have grown tired of seeing little action. It isn’t long though before their wishes are granted, thanks to the persuasion skills and reputation of Colonel Ballard (Terrence Howard) who is doing his part in the D.C.
Now from the trailer, I was expecting this movie to be mostly about highflying plane battles and aerial stunts. Well my friends the trailers once again had me fooled, as the movie was more about the brotherhood of the fighters with a little plane action sprinkled throughout the movie. Many of the actors in this movie were able to really bring this period of history to life for me, each of them portraying their parts well. Oyelowo and Parker were perhaps the best of the actors and, in my opinion, were able to capture the best friend nature of the two down to the letter. Howard’s portrayal of a military officer was just as good as in Iron Man, his calm and collected demeanor shining through to command respect from his soldiers. Even supporting characters like Smoky (Ne-Yo) played their parts well to relief some of the built up stress and tension from the movie. The other actor I would say was below par was (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who mainly just stood around and smoked his pipe, which was not his typical role.
The acting wasn’t the only positive thing about this movie though. One major positive were the air fight scenes that Lucas and his team created. The dogfights were nicely edited to deliver highflying action, which was interspersed with a lot of cockpit talk. This style, which again reminded me of Star Wars, was interesting and gave the scenes some extra character that helped the audience keep track of their favorite pilots. The graphics for these scenes were also decent, but slightly over polished, as the planes continued to sparkle and shine despite the outcomes of the battle. For once I felt that the camera was actually able to keep up with the action, and only saw a few glitchy camera angles that were distracting. The soundtrack accompanying the scenes was also very appropriate and the symphony was able to add another level of detail to the scenes to further pull in the audience. Overall the scenes were done well, but my I wanted to see more of the Tuskegee’s contributions in the war. The other strength I want to complement Lucas and company on is how they gave the pilots character. Many of the pilots had some quality that the audience could grab on to, especially the ones focusing on loyalty, love and brotherhood that further made these characters believable.
Despite the large number of strengths, there are still some weaknesses to the movie that need to be ironed out. For one thing, the dialog needs some work. Many of the serious scenes in the movie were beautifully shot, but the dialog did not feel like it fit with the scene. The only exception would be the comedy, which I felt was diverse, fun, and executed in perfect timing to keep the audience laughing. A second major flaw is the predictability of the movie. The dialog foreshadowed a lot of scenes and I was able to predict pretty most of the movie before anything really happened. A minor weakness I found was the lack of subtitles in the movie when they were needed. I found myself lost in a few scenes because I had no way of understanding their words. Luckily a buddy of mine was fluent in the language and was able to translate for me. Perhaps my final weakness is again the lack of emphasis on how important these pilots were. Instead of showing a montage of their work, they instead reduced most of their missions to casual bar talk and story telling.
Red Tails is definitely a movie that brings the story of the Tuskegee airmen to life. Nicely done fight scenes, great acting and character development, and a wide variety of comedy keep the movie interesting and fun. However, those expecting to see a movie with nothing but plane fights might be disappointed in this film as the focus is again more on the soldiers non-combat lives. I would definitely see this movie again if I have the time, but I will say that this film was not what I was expecting. Regardless, I believe this movie is worthy of a trip to the movies, and I think many will enjoy it. My ratings for the movie are as follow:
Action Movie: 6.0-6.5
Movie Overall: 8.0
So until next time my friends keep enjoying the movies and have a great day.