George Lucas nowadays has a talent; he takes something from your past, pets it, gives it a nice look, then makes it act stupid. It doesn’t really matter if he’s the executive producer or the key grip. This time he goes way back to World War II with the movie Red Tails, and it is inspired by The Tuskegee Airmen and their true stories. They were an all African-American US fighter group that was basically the embodiment of success when it came to aviation victories. I was actually excited when I heard about this movie 2 days ago because World War II air battles were an inspiration for the spectacular Star Wars air battles, and it really shows here. Does this movie honor the greatest World War II pilots we ever had? Find out after the jump.
Spoiler Alert: No. It doesn’t. I’m not sure if that was even the intention. In fact, the 1995 HBO film The Tuskegee Airmen did better than this film, and that was more than a decade ago. If you’re a military enthusiast (or have slight common sense), the very first scene will make you laugh. Apparently bombers lack any kind of communication and their gunners have the aiming capabilities of a blind stormtrooper. The opening credits starts to roll during the slaughter of flying fortresses, and I am not exaggerating when I say this: These are the worst opening credits I have ever seen in a film. They’re almost as lazy as the writing, because it looks like it came out of a cheap 70’s film. I can only assume it was artistic intent, which is still no excuse. But I digress, that’s just the first problem.
The first time we are introduced to our heroes is when they’re on a scouting mission and the have the worst dialogue ever said in the sky. It’s hard enough to act it out when you’re in a cockpit and can’t do much about the writing. Half of the movie is like that, whether they are fighting or not. I really have to give these actors credit for trying to make this atrocious dialouge sound decent. We follow….well, actually, I’m not sure. They’re all given the same amount of screen time and no character development. The only one that really stood out was David Oyelowo as Joe “Lightning” Little because he actually had a romance angle. Of course, the fact that he was the bravest and best pilot in the squadron helped that. When he Tuskegee Airmen did sink a Destroyer, he singlehandedly did it. Whether it’s historically accurate that they had explosive bullets back then is questionable. Everyone else is like they came out of a bad Tyler Perry sitcom. There were maybe one or two moments where you gave a damn, but in a 2 hour movie it’s just crumbs on a plate.
The only saving grace was the dog fighting and overall flight sequences. The action scenes were awesome and well done with fluent cinematography. It’s a real shame they all looked the same because I would have given this movie a higher rating if they mixed it up a little. Unfortunately, it got tiresome, which is the biggest crime an action movie can do. For a first time feature film director, Anthony Hemingway did a splendid job with that. I’d give him some blame, but he’s not in his home territory so I can understand his failures or mistakes. It actually makes sense because this movie would have been great if it was shown on TV many decades ago. The music was forgettable because I can’t even remember if they played any. The technique of making scenes intense by subtracting the music from the moment is horribly done multiple times. Battle: Los Angeles pales in comparison to the huge amount of cliche’ found in this film.
This film took a diamond-plated shit on an important piece of history. I really hoped it would open modern eyes to The Tuskegee Airmen, but instead made them look like comical idiots. At the very least, the action scenes are awesome and happen every 10 minutes (thank god). It’s the only thing I can give the movie credit for, because everything else is just downright insulting. There are a few lines here that will make you laugh, but mostly you will either be bored or pissed off.
George Lucas, I’ve tolerated you long enough. Here’s half a star, because it’s the lowest rating I can give above no stars. And for the record, this review is coming from a guy who enjoys watching bad movies.
Red Tails is in theaters now.