Red Tails Movie Review

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RED TAILS is a movie inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen who flew combat during World War II.  Since the late 80s early 90s, I have heard reports that George Lucas the creator of Star Wars wanted to create a movie based on these heroic fighter pilots.  I waited and waited and never heard anything. In the late 90s, HBO produced a movie entitled the Tuskegee Airmen and it became one of my favorite historically inspired movies.  Over the past year, I finally heard reports that George Lucas’s Red Tails movie was coming out.   I was excited about seeing the film, especially after seeing the trailer, which was filled with awesome action sequences.

What motivated me to see the film even more, was the appalling discovery that Lucas, the creator of two of the most popular franchise in the history of cinema, Star Wars and Indiana Jones was having difficulties getting his movie Red Tails produced and distributed because studios didn’t want to take a big financial gamble on a “black film” that cost 100 million dollars to make.  George Lucas, who has always gone against the establishment, financed this film out of his own pocket, and carried out the production and wrangled a distribution deal for Red Tails.  This movie became more than just a film to me, it became a movement to try to prove the studios wrong and show that Americans want to see and learn about their heroes. Hopefully this weekend will prove that Lucas is right and that America will support films with a predominately black cast.

Red Tails is a good movie that is worth the price of admission. It focuses on the Tuskegee Airmen towards the end of World War II,  as the 332 Air Combat Group slowly gains increasingly dangerous missions due to the bravery of its pilots and the tenacity of their commander who fights a political battle on their behalf at the Pentagon in Washington D.C. to keep the “Tuskegee Experiment” going.  The stars of the Red Tails are two pilots Julian “Easy” Martin and Joe “Lightening” Little.  These two men are best friends who are the heroes of this film and the leaders of their flight squadron.  I couldn’t help but compare “Easy” to Luke Skywalker and “Lightening” to Han Solo.  The thing that made these two characters so memorable, were that they were heroes with real human flaws. Easy was a great pilot who cared about his men, but he was an alcoholic.  Lightening was the best pilot in the entire combat group, but he was a loose cannon who was focused on glory.  In the end, both of these characters despite their flaws were able to carry out their missions and overcome adversity.  The relationship and struggles between these two signified the greater struggle that the African American pilots faced when dealing with the racism from their own Army during World War II.  All of the characters in the film had good roles and were very memorable.  There were many moments throughout the film where the crowd including myself and Kameron laughed, oohhed or aahhed.  Usually in some films, you leave the movie trying to remember who the extras were, but I left remembering each one. Everyone had time to shine.  I asked Kameron who is favorite character was and he said Lightening. My favorite was Easy because I related to his leadership struggles and attempts to balance friendship and command, but I also liked Ray Gun because he reminded me of my young adult life.

Red Tails is a war movie and with war movies, you have to have action.  The air combat sequences in Red Tails are the best fighting scenes I have ever seen in a non-science fiction war movie. The visuals and details that you see in this film are literally stunning.  The battles that take place over the beaches ofItalyand the skies ofGermanyare breathtaking. It was evident that the filmmakers painstakingly researched the physics and style of combat during World War II.  My favorite sequences occurred when the Tuskegee Airmen were protecting the bomber groups, especially from the jet fighters.  Although this is a good film, there was one thing that bothered me, which kind of detached me from the film.  I am not sure if it was because I was over-hyped or what, but the music in the movie did not move me at all.  George Lucas said he wanted to “make a patriotic film for black teenagers”, and he did.  However, the music didn’t feel my spirit with the emotion and swelling of pride that I usually feel when I see movies that are intended to tug on your heart strings or have your chest bursting with patriotism.  I came away from the movie with no recollection of any of the music, although right now the music from the original Tuskegee Airmen and Top Gun are flowing through my head.

Despite the fact that the music took me out of the film some, this is a solid movie that has met expectations. I am so tempted to make this review a history lesson because theTuskegeeAirmen aka Red Tails aka Spookwaffe were my passion of study as a young man and the core of my African American Studies course.

Regardless, see Red Tails, it is a great film for young people that will teach them some history along the way. I asked my son Kameron what he learned from the film, and he said “Color doesn’t matter it is all about the skill.” Kameron is right; Red Tails has some skill, which is evident by the applause the movie received in our mixed crowd, packed movie theater at 1:20 pm today.

Grade: B+

Kameron: A

My Dad called and gave it an A+, and said it was one of the best World War II movies he has ever seen.





One comment

  1. The dogfights are fun but everything else is filled with corniness, lame acting, predictable story arc, and moments where the film feels like a video-game rather than based on a true story. A great story to be told, but told in a very poor way. Good review.


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