Thursday, February 9, 2012

Red Tails

Get out your airplanes and racism, we're reviewing Red Tails!
Not very happy with this. I think the best thing about it is the brushed text. In my defense, I was sick. *cough cough*
I had medium hopes for this movie. And those were pretty much filled.  Nothing better, nothing worse. Overall it's a fun movie, but it is by no means an amazing one. More than anything, this is a movie made by George Lucas.

The Tuskegee training program, made up entirely of black pilots, has been mostly sitting WWII out, even though they're some of the most talented pilots in the war.  When bombers need some aerial protection, they finally get to see some action.

Let me start off with saying the aerial dogfights are all amazing. The CGI is perfect, The fighting is well choreographed, and all the shooting and flight tricks are exciting to see. Considering George Lucas used old footage from WWII films as reference for the spaceship fights in Star Wars, it's no wonder he knows what he's doing in this department. Sadly, this is not the whole movie.

Most of the film entails melodrama having to do with the all back cast, and it's all by-the-book bordering on cliche, but it's still fairly entertaining. There's the younger character trying to prove something, the hotshot who has problems following orders, the captain battling his addiction to alcohol, and the colonel playing the government politics game trying to get his boys some air time. And also the overt racism, which wasn't too heavy handed and they only used the N word once. All the stories work out mostly well; some were funny, some were really sad, and sometimes racism was overcome. It was a nice, quaint ensemble story.

And then there's the acting. I liked most of the black actors, except for Cuba Gooding Jr. He could not stop sucking on that pipe for one minute, and really, he just seemed glad to be in a semi-decent movie.  The white actors on the other hand were all pretty terrible. Not The Room terrible, just generic George-Lucas-directed-you terrible. I'd like to believe this was done on purpose either as a homage to 1940's war movies or as a funny twist to have all the white actors be generic with no personality, but I'm pretty sure it's just Lucas brand cardboard acting. "Man, I'm sure glad those pilots are here!" It gets painful.

But then Terrence Howard comes out of nowhere and you suddenly remember this is a movie!  Honestly, he is hands down the best actor in this, by a large margin. I have to believe he finished a scene and Lucas went "What the hell was that?! I've never seen that before in my life!" I'm glad he was there to pull rank on Cuba Gooding Jr. when they needed someone to really give a line. Don't worry about it Cuba, just keep sucking on that pipe.

The structure and flow of the movie also feels a little off. It doesn't build up and break down at the right moments.  It does have suspense, it's just not used in the right time.  Things just sort of happen, and then characters and events pop up when they need to. It feels sloppy.

This may seem minor, but something that was really bothering me was the beginning and ending titles. They're bright red with boring blocky text, and what's worse is that they obscure the dogfighting action they superimpose. it's so annoying. Maybe it was used as homage to older movies, but it just looks like no thought was put into the composition here.

It's a nice action movie highlighting some of the overlooked black pilots of world war II, giving them the props that they so justly deserved. But it is definitely a movie made by George Lucas: great set pieces, archetypal cliche drama, and terrible acting.

THE GOOD: great dogfights, yay for fun all-black cast war movie, Terrence Howard, melodrama is ok.
THE BAD: some terrible acting, cuba gooding jr, structure is off, annoying titles.
OVERALL: It's not great, but it's a fun enjoyable movie nonetheless. Worth taking a look at.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Star Wars, WWII Movies, Saving Private Ryan, Glory
ONE SCENE METAPHOR: The Lucasfilms logo comes up on screen. Hmm, I'm not sold that this is a George Lucas movie.  Then the first scene is a group of fighter planes escorting bombers. The first words you hear: "Germans! Get 'em!" Cue the bright red obnoxious titles. Yup. This is definitely a movie made by Lucas.

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