Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Red Tails": review

Everything good about the movie "Red Tails," produced by George Lucas, appears in the preview trailer, so just watch the trailer and imagine how awesome this movie could have been. The story follows some of the adventures of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black group of military pilots who flew missions during World War II, often using old hand-me-down planes. It begins in medias res, so we never see the origins of the Tuskegee Airmen—we just see some of their exploits, as well as the historical moment when they finally receive spanking-new planes for an important mission and paint those tails red. There's also a "John Henry"-style, old-versus-new scene toward the end of the movie, when one of the Red Tails takes on a new German jet and comes out on top.

"Red Tails" contains plenty of major themes: the psychological cost of war, the constant specter of racism, interracial love, intercultural misunderstandings, and what it means to be part of a band of brothers. But, frustratingly, the movie flubs just about all of these issues thanks to painfully poor screenwriting. John Ridley and Aaron McGruder are credited with penning the screenplay; they ought to be ashamed. The real-life Red Tails were an amazing group of men, and this story was miles away from even remotely doing them justice. I'd say a remake, by much more capable hands, is in order.

For the moment, the entire film is available, with surprisingly high-quality video, on YouTube. I don't recommend it except for the nicely rendered dogfight scenes, and if you plan to watch it on YouTube, do so quickly before it gets taken down for copyright reasons.


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