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"Red Tails" Review - What We Thought... What You Thought... Let's Go!

Reviews
by Tambay A. Obenson
January 21, 2012 10:35 AM
94 Comments
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red tails

Even though I saw the film about 2 weeks ago, I thought I'd wait to post any thoughts on it until some of you folks had seen it as well. So, now that you have, what do you think of it?

You’ve probably all figured out by now, given the hints that Sergio and I have dropped over the last week or so, that neither of us cared for Red Tails.

But maybe it’s because we aren’t in its target audience, and thus our criticisms of it ultimately don’t matter.

After all, George Lucas himself described it as “patriotic,” “corny” and “for teenaged boys.” I won’t speak for Sergio, but I can probably handle “patriotic” to an extent; “corny” in doses and in the right circumstances; but a teenage boy I’m not; but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a well made superficial thrill like any 18-year old; the key words there being "well made."

That John Ridley and Aaron McGruder are listed as the authors of the film’s cut-rate, rather juvenile script is mind-boggling to me, and I’m inclined to believe the rumors that circulated in 2010 stating that George Lucas wasn’t pleased with what he saw of the film at the time, and essentially took it over (I believe the words used were “massive rewrites and reshoots”). Of course Lucas’ people later denied it, dismissing those rumors, and replacing them with announcements that Lucas was simply doing some second unit/pickup shooting.

But this thing has George Lucas written all over it. If you’ve seen any of the 3 Star Wars prequels, you’d recognize his imprint, starting with the often cringe-worthy dialogue; Terence Howard, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding Jr, Bryan Cranston and the other actors in the film do their best with the material given to them, but, really, much of it just didn't work at all for me. 

Too much cheese to chew and swallow in one 2-hour seating.

Or maybe Ridley, McGruder and director Anthony Hemingway were all simply acting on Lucas’ orders, and the flimsy handling of the material was all perfectly intentional on the creative teams’ part. Afterall, as already noted, Lucas did describe the film, in the interview with John Stewart on The Daily Show (which got passed around quite a bit), as a “nationalistic, corny, action movie for teenage boys.” But for some reason, that portion of the interview seemed to just float above the heads of many, and instead, what got all the attention was his sentence about Hollywood not wanting to finance the movie because of its all-black cast, as if that’s something we all didn’t already know quite well. Maybe because it came from the mouth of a white man, and we all somehow felt like our plight had been validated - like that would make much of a difference in that plight anyway.

Come on people!

He gave us an idea of what to expect in the film, yet, after that interview got passed around, I continued reading and hearing thoughts from many who were excited to see the film, all expecting some historical epic of a movie that thoughtfully and intricately paid homage to the stories of the real brave black men who endured plenty at home and abroad, as representatives of this country at a time of war.

That's not the movie I saw.

This is the same issue I had with The Help, in that the momentous matters of race are handled so simplistically, as almost an afterthought (a melodramatic speech here and there, and not much more), and emphasis was instead placed on the film’s high-techs.

If his intent was to make an action movie, then maybe he really should’ve just gone balls-to-wall, Michael Bay-style and said to hell with a cohesive, intelligible plot and focused instead on how many ways he could blow shit up. I would’ve maybe had more respect for the film then; instead we get this pretense of a narrative that just didn’t move me, and aerial fight sequences that were at times cool, but just not enough to make up for, or hide the film’s glaring weaknesses.

I actually REALLY wanted to like the film; really I did. I hoped for something superior to what I eventually saw. And as far as I'm concerned, the real Tuskegee Airmen deserve far better than this.

That's just how I see it folks... I could go on, but why bother. You get the point.

Clearly others agree because, according to Rottentomatoes.com, 66% of reviews of Red Tails are negative.

But I'm sure many of you will disagree with me on this, so bring it on :)

What did you think of Red Tails?

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94 Comments

  • Jennifer Kelly | August 8, 2012 4:41 PMReply

    I absolutely loved this movie and actually did a report on it in one of my college classes. I am not a teenage boy.

  • Leroi Pryce | February 12, 2012 6:07 PMReply

    I wasn't a huge fan of this teenage comic book movie. The Love Story was unnecessary and ridiculous. NeYo sounded like Steppin Fetchit. The plot was lacking..... So I made a hilarous SpooF of it. Here it is-----> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Krw74qP1yQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  • Patrick | February 8, 2012 6:41 PMReply

    Knowing it was a George Lucus production, all I wanted was to be entertained. I didn't expect a drama about the Tuskagee airmen or for this film to change my life. It's Lucus for crying out loud! I wanted stuff to blow-up and have a good time! Well stuff blow up and I kept looking at my watch. It was a poorly written film. This could have been as fun as Indiana Jones, that was made for fourteen year old boys. Also, it's okay to constructively criticize Black films. Just because it's got black folks in it doesn't mean it's a good movie.

  • Pomme | February 7, 2012 12:20 PMReply

    All of you, who had something negative to say about Red Tails, KILL YOURSELF 3 TIMES and consider yourself a fuckin BIGOT!!! Red Tails was fuckin AWESOME!!! So STOP HATIN' REDNECKS!!!!

  • Sanity Knocking | May 23, 2012 8:17 PM

    Really? Are you really serious? Not only was this movie not entirely factual, it was poorly scripted and filled with every stereotype imaginable. You don't have to be black to be the victim of a stereotype, idiot. Your ignorance shows when you start using the old, tired phrase "redneck". Relax, your so-called black "rage" is showing. We're not impressed.

  • GregP | February 4, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    Red Tails..although lacking a top notch scripts does effectively get the Point across very well and in this age of High tech special effects..the aerial fight scene were done effectively although no match for the aerial quality of the Mid Sixties UK film 'the battle of Britain'. The sub-plot with the Italian white girl and Rap Star Ne-Yo was plausible, after all he 'is' a star in the music world and has that steve McQueen-ish flair for Drama, so kudos to Him. As for 'Tamara' critique of Terrance Howard behind the scenes Wash DC role and playing the Old Guard White Exec officers 'game'. Well, I disagree, Howard acted admirably especially since I just rented the classic mid-60's 'Devils Brigade' and HOF actor William Holden acted similarly as the General /Col. traveling to Wash DC to convince military brass that his battalion of prison Misfits was Assignment 'worthy'. The Story Had to be Told and not by HBO who sponsored 'the Tuskegee airmen' Film 15 yrs ago. At Least Samuel L Jacks0n was 'not' in this film , and lastly Cuba Gooding's resurgence I hope continues, given that the Disney Eskimo Dog film that he did 12 yrs ago did 'slow down' his career, just as his Indicated on past interviews. Over all a good film.
    Finally, the 'pretty boy' German pilot sub-plot was also believable since I just purchased a '46 classic 'God is My Co-Pilot' film and in that film HOF actor Dennis Morgan has a similar sub-plot with young Asian actor Philip Ahn (of 70's Kung Fu tv show fame) playing the role of Japanese Zero Pilot and Uttering lines 'I'm Going to get you Yankee',...'and "Too bad, Ran out of Gas Yankee?" ...such is propaganda and its great for War Films.

  • Token White Guy | February 3, 2012 6:36 AMReply

    I tried to forget the fact that this was made by George Lucas, same guy who effectively destroyed his own multi-million franchises (Star Wars & Indiana Jones), tried to forget that 'based on real life' movies seldom don't suck. In sort I tried to enjoy a popcorn action flick that this obviously was going to be... I failed, even after setting my expectations very low.

    The movie fails on so many levels and does a grave disservice to the many men and women who gave so much for so little in return, most of whom will remain forever faceless, thankless, forgotten. About the only reason I think the movie generated any revenue at all? It was released February, black history month (at least in the sates). Cheap marketing ploy.

    For shame, Lucas, for shame.

  • Philip | February 2, 2012 8:12 PMReply

    Didn't realize I had an alter ego named Tambay...Spot on with the review. True story, two minutes into the movie I thought to myself, 'well that's a weird place to begin the story.' 30 minutes into it, 'You know, maybe this would be better had they cast Nick Cannon as the lead.' An hour into it, 'Dang, I could have stayed home and caught Drumline on TNT.' Then the reel snapped...

  • Marvin Lewis | February 1, 2012 2:52 PMReply

    The movie was horrible on many levels. It begins with the script. it just wasn't good and the Airmen deserve better. I took my son to see an Off-Broadway play in New York called Black Angels Over Tuskegee this winter and it was a true account of what the men went through. Family life, Tuskegee training. A powerful rendition of their experience. I know Red Tails is an action movie but I needed more. I was looking at my watch more than the screen. I only wished George would have made that play into a film. Who knows, maybe the prequel.

  • Josh | January 26, 2012 12:08 PMReply

    Of course the movie is going to get a hype backlash, it deserve's it. It's "the movie that will save black cinema" and its entirely forgettable. It was just a sloppy movie. Did anyone involved with this thing read about the period? It was two hours of guys playing dressup. Little things like a Dorothy Dandrige pinup in the background would have earned points with me. I can't beleive lighting didnt wash out of the program in Alabama since he is incapable of following orders.

  • 'GRU | January 26, 2012 9:00 AMReply

    I've seen both Tuskegee Airmen and Red Tails and would give TA more props of the two because of its accuracy and the portrayal that the pilots went through in getting the program started here in the US, to the continuous trials and tribulations they faced when they were in combat. However, I would like to be constructive in my criticism as to not display too much negativity and WE never get another big budgeted black movie. Considering that it was a Hollywood movie and thus to me that just equals pure entertainment, I did not go into the movie expecting to see a "perfect" movie. What I did expect to see was a movie that did display the heroics of Blacks during WWII. Were there corny lines and "unfinished" scenes? Yes. Will I lose sleep over it? No. Should we demand better? Maybe. And I say maybe because we must have forgotten that when we get to demanding more accurate films or films told the one we think they should be told, we either get nothing, something that is low-budgeted, or something that really plays on the stereo-types. In regards to the Italian love affair, I have been in the military for over 24 years and thus have been stationed in places where I have seen the descendants of Blacks fighting on foreign lands. So the pilot falling in love with an Italian lady that he saw from a plane (unrealistic) didn't bother me. Our men were stationed in places that did not provide diversity and as the movie depicted, Lightning loved the ladies. The movie did not capture everything. One real Tuskegee Airmen wrote about the fact that there were more than just pilots stationed with the 332nd Fighter Squadron. There were Blacks working in Finance, Personnel, Law, and all the other units within the post. The movie could not have captured all of that and stayed within a time frame that would have been comfortable with the audience, especially since I know they all have creditable stories to tell. Now before I get off of my soapbox I'll ask this last question and answer. Do I think the movie could have given us something more? Yes I do. But I'm also careful for what I asked for. Thanks for your time.

  • Aaron | January 26, 2012 7:37 AMReply

    I think criticism of this movie is way overblown. So much so that I think it over shadows the real accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen. Yes, the dialogue was corny, and the white characters and much of the supporting black cast were cardboard cutouts. But to me the real thrust of the drama came from the relationship between Easy and Lightning. I found there interaction convincing and real. Sue me if you think I'm crazy for saying that. But overall I think the accomplishments of the TA should've been the real focus of the media and critics. I feel the movie did a great service of showing history and what Americans Soldiers did to overcome the adversity of instituional racsim at least as they could in the 1940s. Stop complaining about how bad the editing was.

  • Jennifer | August 8, 2012 4:48 PM

    I Agree with you 100 % this was about the accomplishments of these men

  • Josh | January 25, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    This movie was a disappointment and I found it highly offensive and stereotypical.

  • Jennifer | August 8, 2012 4:50 PM

    how was this movie offensive and sterotypical they were talking about the accomplishments of these men. Wow you are talking about offensive but you want smoking and interrogations that doesn't make sense.

  • Josh | January 25, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    One airman bagged three ME-262's on one mission but he got the drop on them and surprised them from above. Watching the guys in the movie try and catch up to them and be surpised by the fact the jets are outgaining them was pretty funny. They would have been breifed on that. These guys sure made a routine train straffing seem pretty hard. Old gun camera footage will show you that it was routine to start with the locomotive to stop the train yet our movie heroes couldnt stay disciplined and do that. The POW sub plot was such a waste of time. A popular tactic of the German's when capturing an African American was to bring up the racism in the U.S. in order to get them to talk. An interrogation scene would have been a great time to get some interesting issues across. "Why fight for a country that hate's you?" Yet another missed opportunity. WHERE WAS ALL THE SMOKING? Was it the 40's or not?

  • Morgan | January 25, 2012 11:13 AMReply

    I really wanted to like this movie. In fact I found excuses on why it should be good. Terrance Howard, Tristan Wilds (aka Michael, the cool gritty kid from "The Wire"), Nate Parker and David Oyelowo round out a great black cast. Aaron McGruder, the brilliance behind The Boondocks wrote the script. And the creator of perhaps the best sci-fi franchise ever (George Lucas) financed the entire production. Yet, with all of this, the beautiful story of the Tuskegee Airmen's true heroism and bravery was all mushed up into a humdrum Hollywood production. I expected a filet mignon served on a gold plate and ended up getting shoved a cold grocery store ribeye on a foam slab of Hefty. Eatable yes, but far from what I expected. Robert Markowitz's 1995 version with Lawrence Fishburne is far better. And that's what I think of Red Tails. Also, it should be noted that maybe Lucas only agreed to finance this production because he thought it would serve as his "get out of jail free" card with black people. We all know that Jar Jar Binks was some racist nonsense. I ain't forgotten about that yet George!

  • gman99 | January 25, 2012 1:29 AMReply

    I'm a stickler for WWII and this film missed the mark on numerous occasions that won't be addressed too much here. I'm simply not sure if much of the action in this film actually happened. The dogfights were absurd. No prop plane (P-51) could possibly duel with a jet. It's like a VW Beetle outracing a Ferrari. I spoke with a Tuskegee Airman who actually got a couple of kills (Roscoe Brown) who said the ONLY way to down an ME-262 jet was when it was slowing down to land. Again, no dogfights, certainly not one with a U.S. plane BEHIND the German. Too many pointless scenes: Romance with Italian girl? Love at first sight from half a mile up? What was it with the whole POW/prison break scene -- other than lifting exact shots from "The Great Escape"? And as someone said, why did the Geman pilot get to mouth cliches in subtitles, while the Italian girl got no such courtesy -- something viewers could have used. Pilots talking trash on their very first mission (not to mention wiping out enemy with 3 or 4 years experience) was a bit much. Nobody seems too concerned they might be dead in 40 seconds. Everything -- emotions and all -- was flat. Really lamentable effort. Was hoping for a more respectful and accurate movie. Someone blamed results on "Hollywood execs," but this was all a George Lucas production. Don't know if this will break even -- seems a challenge (though $19 million was a nice start) -- but I hope so for future of black Hollywood dramas.

  • Josh | January 24, 2012 12:22 PMReply

    Following the guy trying to land at the airfeild and then strafing it was a real mission. Though it happended in Checkloslovakia not Italy. Highlights a problem with the whole feel of the film. None of it felt real.

  • DeShawn | January 23, 2012 11:36 PMReply

    This movie was great in my opinion. Personally, I feel that those complaining about how "God-Awful" it is, should maybe reevaluate themselves. Als, to those who don't see it having anything to with it being in the 1940s, please relearn your history. In the 1940s, people discriminated against blacks, people wore leather jackets, cars were not prevalent as they are today (obviously), and if nothing else, then the music that would play while they were driving through the camp should have atleast put you in the state of mind that "Hello! This did not happen 2 years ago, people." This kind of music was popular back in that time period. However, I do understand that everybody is entitled to their own opinions, as well, so if this does nothing else, then take into account the many lives of pilots, infantry, etc. that were lost during WWII, and think of the possibilities of how they were killed. What George Lucas did here, was create a story based on the Tuskegee men, and tried his best to insert just about every element that signifies when the events in this film took place. If you feel that you could do a better job, then remake the movie yourself; get better actors, better costumes, use better locations, and use better CGI...

  • Jug | January 24, 2012 1:00 PM

    Seriously Deshawn, that's your retort? Guess you don't watch sports then, or at least I'm sure you don't "complain" when someone on the team does something you don't like because "Hey, it's not you playing so you shouldn't speak-like you can do better", right? If people are asked to spend their HARD EARNED MONEY for something, they damn well have a right to criticize it. ESPECIALLY when they want to make it better. Grow up man.

  • word | January 23, 2012 11:17 PMReply

    simple .. we cannot afford to do wack films period...hopefully hollywood will give us another chance

  • Professor Progressor | January 23, 2012 11:02 PMReply

    Honestly, I liked the made-for-tv movie starring Laurence Fishburne better.

  • ProfessorProgressor | January 23, 2012 10:54 PMReply

    From the opening dialogue I knew I was in for a sphincter-tightening two hours. The opening scene was hard to listen to. Everyone was overly-confident which would make sense if the Airmen had been combat tested, but they hadn't and I'm certain there was some doubt in the minds of the actual pilots and that should have been depicted on screen. I would have preferred a movie that reminded black people of our rich heritage and the sacrifices we've made to making America the great country it claims to be and that also reminded white people how historically bipolar they are in their dealings with blacks and their history. The subject matter was entirely too important for a fluffy feel good movie.

  • CD | January 24, 2012 8:49 AM

    I totally agree! Having attended Tuskegee in the early 80's and learning about some of this history, I expected much more. I felt the casting and or directing of the movie left a lot to be desired. I understand trying to capture the youth of these pilots with certain young actors (the two lead pilots did OK). The problem I was having in a major way was Ne-Yo with his fake southern accent which had both me and the wife cringing whenevery he had lines. Much of the blame could go to the director, who should have studied more credible war films with solid acting, i.e. Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. The heroes from Tuskegee definitely deserved a better portrayal to convey their significant contribution to "American history". I love the story but did not necessarily care for this movie, even though I really wanted to like it.

  • Anthony E. | January 23, 2012 7:14 PMReply

    Embarrassing, held my head low and wenced by the execution that was all over the place with some of the worst editing I have ever seen. To accomplish or stay with an emotion would have helped.

    The kicker is one seen where they are watching film, well most of them, jumping up and down and yelling while tossing their hats giving off the appearance of monkey's. They were not acting excited but more like anxious beasts.

    The two main leads were the only saving factor but to no end were any story arcs held. This was a bit of entertainment to which at some time during the feature I was entertained. There were some folks in house that enjoyed as some women shouted, "Yes, Terrance my baby."

    Sad, as of late black directors at the helm behind the lens to tell the stories of their own plight in the trenches as well as the dog fights from Red Tails to Saint Anna, big misses.

    But one thing that was impotent is that the trailer for Star Wars 3D was attached so Lucas could reel in the young black crowd to scratch his back after this favor.

  • CD | January 24, 2012 8:51 AM

    Good points! Best description of the crowd that saw this yesterday was -underwhelmed!

  • Temi | January 23, 2012 6:20 PMReply

    Perhaps 66% of critics did not like it, but 74% of the audience did. Perhaps this demonstrates that the public is happy to have a different perspective.

  • ashanti | January 23, 2012 5:00 PMReply

    Just because a film is made about the African American experience does not mean African Americans have to support it, it does not mean African Americans have to like it. That being said, I would suggest that those people go to it with a critical lens. This is not a Tyler Perry entertainment piece, this is about real historical issues and events. I saw nothing in it that made me believed it was the 1940s and I was taken back at the extra dialogue while they were in the air. The whole "black Jesus" was another issue. Black cast do work with the right script and the right actors.

    Example "The Color Purple" although people had issues with it was done very well. Lackawanda Blues was well done also. This movie was like the paper you cram to do in one night and turn it just because you have to. I expect better and people need to tell George Lucas and Hollywood the reason why movies don't work is you don't test it in front of the right people.

  • CD | January 24, 2012 9:00 AM

    Awesome points! I really wanted to like this movie, being a graduate of Tuskegee in the mid 80's. For a part of history that was so important, the movie just did not do an effective job at telling a great story. I don't know whether to blame casting or the director in what seemed like a rushed project. I cringed everytime Ne-Yo spoke in the movie. Larry Fishburne must have been cringing also after watching this movie. Top black actors would probably have tossed their scripts in the garbage after detecting the cheeseball writing. Seeing some of these comments, make me feel a little justified in my disappointment with Red Tails. I wish Hollywood would have done the right thing and backed it like other top historical war movies.

  • Tamara | January 23, 2012 3:01 PMReply

    The script was corny, lackluster, and unmoving. I concur wholeheartedly with your review. I just saw the film this weekend and was extremely disappointed, not only because of the melodramatic monologues that were extremely horrid and Terrance Howard's less than convincing acting skills on several accounts, but because it supported Hollywood's theory in proving them right. I highly doubt there will be another all black cast action film for quite some time.

  • Tamara | January 23, 2012 2:58 PMReply

    The script was corny, lackluster, and unmoving. I concur wholeheartedly with your review. I just saw the film this weekend and was extremely disappointed, not only because of the melodramatic monologues that were extremely horrid and Terrance Howard's less than convincing acting skills on several accounts, but because it supported Hollywood's theory in proving them right. I highly doubt there will be another all black cast action film for quite some time.

  • DNM | January 23, 2012 1:41 PMReply

    I agree completely. I just hope mainstream America doesn't walk out of the theater thinking that this is what a Black film looks like.

  • Jason Jay | January 23, 2012 12:53 PMReply

    It wasn't good. The choice of actors was poor. The white woman angle was a bad choice. The script sucked. The flying scenes were pretty good.

  • CD | January 24, 2012 9:01 AM

    Simply put-you are right on point!

  • Professor Progressor | January 23, 2012 10:59 PM

    I agree 100% Jason!

  • woh | January 23, 2012 11:06 AMReply

    Thanks Lovely. I agree. Not the best film made about African-Americans military heroes but I did enjoy it. It's been too long since I felt all those emotions in one movie.

  • ashanti | January 23, 2012 10:15 AMReply

    Everyone has expressed my sentiments. It is not a GREAT EPIC, like it has been touted. We don't know the characters. As a historian I have a more critical view of bio-pics or historical fiction movies than most. Aaron McGruder did not need to be a part of this movie at all. There was no need for a love story that had a wild-out character if you will falling in love with a woman who wanted him to stay in Italy. The character that was presented to us would not have stayed in one place and with one woman.

    Why couldn't the movie open up with a wife, mother, sister back home reading a letter from one of the pilots and then cut to the base or an actual flight scene? Let's hear the real dialogue of why the didn't want the black pilots, and the real dialogue that some Germans had about the pilots. Yes the black pilots were talked about as being great pilots on the German side. Let's juxtapose the characters and where they were from. Ne-Yo's character very country, Easy (can't remember the actor) his parents were the wealthy, but they were all there. The socio-economics of black life was represented in the Tuskegee Airmen. We could have seen what their families had to go through and did a comparison of what they were going through. Now how did Junior escape? Sorry George Lucas you were all over the place with contrite dialogue that wasn't even period and the cast looked too young. Some of the pilots were older you know.

  • Nadell | January 22, 2012 11:55 PMReply

    It was a nice movie. Not brilliant, just OK. More so than anything I walked out of the theater wanting to know more about the Tuskegee Airmen (more than what was sprinkled to me in history class in high-school) and I have more admiration and respect for the Tuskegee Airmen's resilience, passion and fearlessness.
    What absolutely baffles me is Ne-Yo and Method Man...I'm still trying to figure out how these artists were even considered for this film?!?! A movie of this nature, how does a rapper & a singer get dibs?
    The love story was totally unnecessary! Extremely not needed. It didn't fit --- it stuck out like a sore thumb...I guess because it is a mandate for action films to always have love stories they felt it was not an option to not have one. It just deducted the concreteness in my opinion because it was thoughtlessly done.
    The dialogue is lackluster & lukewarm. Just unstable and elementary like. Howard's character was probably the most complex and appealing in script. He gave the film the energy it lacked in terms of dialogue. Parker is really impressive! With each film he grows!! I liked him in this one. And Tristan was good. These actors are all exceptional in their craft -- I think the writers abandoned the characters and didn't give them enough.
    Now, the action , I loved!!! I was at the edge of my seat w/ all the aerial maneuvers! Intense and thank goodness for it!
    I'm glad I took my family to watch it!
    I slap myself on the hand for not watching "The Tuskegee Airmen" with Fishburne. I most certainly will now!
    I feel absolutely

  • CareyCarey | January 22, 2012 10:35 PMReply

    I FELL ASLEEP. That right, it took me less that 20 minutes to realize the pain was unbearable. But wait, my lady enjoyed it. And, she was not alone. Well, I live in a white state (we are less than 3% of the population) nevertheless, at the end of the movie the audience started clapping. Now, with my nosey self, I had to turn around to see exactly who was jumping for joy. Well, it was a bunch of over 60 white folks. Then I noticed a few black faces in the crowd. It was a family of four... mother, father and 2 teenagers. I walked over to the young kid and asked him if he enjoyed the movie. With a big grin on his face he said "YES SIR, I sure did". Anyway, back to the home front. When my lady woke me up for snoring too damn loud, I saw Ne-Yo talking like he had 4 bags of skoal tucked between his cheek and gum. I mean, WTH? I swear he was going for Mushmouth of Fat Albert and Cosby Kids. Seriously, wasn't there a director around? I mean, if I was the director I would have yelled "CUT! Hey Ne-Bo, or whatever your name is, cut that shit out. You're not playing lightning and you're not acting". And come on, I can suspend believability with the best of them, but somebody has to tell me how the 2 Tuskegee Airmen followed the damaged German Pilot back to his base (right over the mountain) and blewup damn near the whole base? I guess the German Pilot's radio was damaged - huh? That explains why he didn't call ahead and say "spekendeedusrt, I got these two black guys on my ass. Get out the big guns and get in the air"? That reminds me, why was everything blowing up? Jimmy crack corn corn corny! AND, y'all don't even want me to get started on the acting! And why was those negros shuckin' and jivin' ALL THE DAMN TIME? Heck, if my lady wasn't enjoying herself, I would have walked out and walked in the adjacent theater where Haywire was playing.

  • Cherish | January 23, 2012 11:33 PM

    @JUG
    I can't comment on RED TAILS as I haven't seen it (don't like war movies.) but what you wrote was thought-provoking. The Black viewing audience's acceptance of mediocrity is astounding. "It's a Black film - we have to see it, or else." Why are so willing to support such poor production, lousy writing and acting in our film and TV? Especially when we have had better, seen better in the past. What's with short term memory? We have been in the film industry for OVER A CENTURY, since this sh*t began. We've always been there, one way or another. Why are we acting BRAND NEW? Something happened in the last 15-20 years that have made Black people so fearful, and so insecure. Insecure in who we are and our place in this society. And this fear and insecurity has us acceptance any crap that comes our way, incorporating it into our culture. When I watch old episodes of past TV shows like 227 or "A Different World" and look past interviews, where even as the Black middle class is evolving, they seem to exude a relative security in what Black people are and/or where we belong. Unlike today's new shows, with exaggerated Black mannerisms and pretentious class markings. I don't know. But it's having a negative impact on our culture. This insecurity and fear is bringing us down. Anyway, everything is cyclical, right? Maybe this will pass. Maybe.

  • CareyCarey | January 23, 2012 8:47 PM

    Jug my man, "I" get you loud and clear. In fact, I knew your sentiments long before your last comment. Listen, it might be embarrassing and/or you're tired of hearing me say this, but in my humble opinion you are one of the most open minded individuals who visits this board. Your sense of fairness and understanding of human emotion is to be admired. On that note, you seldom engage in the "racism" trap. Granted, racism exists and it's all around us on a daily basis, however, again, your fearlessness to call a spade a spade makes you a stronger person than the average black man. Now, let me go back to one of your early statements... here--->"BUT what I don't get, and probably will never get, is the "free pass" this movie is getting amongst US". Well Jug, I believe you do get it. Your words and actions over the last year speaks very loudly. As I said earlier, you do not fear the kickback or vengeful replies that one could receive upon making statements that may be perceived as turning your back on "your" people and/or turning a blind eye on racism. Yet, some folks fear nothing more than taking a position that stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinions. And, on this board, we know what they are. I am not saying that every comments is "wrong" nor has the flavor of "we shall overcome". However, I am saying it's safe to say a blog of this nature can sometimes, some-of-the-damn-time, have a sense/feeling of "US" against the world and down with whitey. And, I've never received that feeling from you. Lastly, in reference to this movie, I knew you were rooting for it's success for all the reasons you mentioned. Heck, aside from the fact that you're in the business, first and foremost you're a freakin' lover of great movies. When your job "title" hits the floor, when your shoes come off and you break it all the way down, YOU, Jug the actor, Jug the man, wants and desire great works of art. Forget the bullsh*t and the opinions of others, you know what you like and you have a great sense of humor. You don't let others define who you are, nor what you should and/or do like in your entertainment, or the value of such. Okay, I am about done, but I have to do my best Paul Harvey and tell the rest of the story. When Bondgirl (another commenter I admire) and Sergio (yep, he still leads the charge although he kicked me to the curb *LOL*) said what they had to say about this film, I knew at some point, some time and place you would let it all hang out. Thanks for the conversations.

  • Jug | January 23, 2012 6:04 PM

    And two more things for the vitriol I'm probably gonna get, 1) I meant to say self-defeating 'need' below & 2) I'm not a hypocrite or two-faced. Entertainment is a big ol' game & sometimes you have to take one for the team in order to win. Still doesn't mean I have to act like I'm in a "fog" when shit is served to me. LOL

  • Jug | January 23, 2012 5:55 PM

    I just couldn't Carey. Real talk, I bought tickets to support but didn't go. I know everyone is screaming "First Weekend B.O." and I get that. I'm in the industry, I have worked for studios & prod companies, been around deal makers, am an actor etc. I get it. On a personal note, if this thing does well it bodes well for me so I'm definitely not "hatin'"...I rooted for it all day long, back before the reshoots, before Aaron McGruder & "Occupy RED TAILS" LOL. BUT what I don't get, and probably will never get, is the "free pass" this movie is getting amongst US. I've actually read reviews, actual film critics, who said this movie isn't about the writing or the acting or the directing. Really? Then what is it about? What if Obama was a good looking "articulate, Black" President but a supreme Idiot? SMDH. Some people actually like the movie, & that' cool. As I always say, SOMEBODY likes Adam Sandler LOL And some will knock me for talking shit, not having seen it & that is cool too (tho I don't legislate in Congress but I can talk shit about that all day long tho). But reading many of the comments on S&A, Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes, and talking to Black actors who live in my building it was either A) terrible or B) enjoyable because "My expectations were low". Is that where we've come to, just to get Black movies made & be patronizers of them? Those are my choices, that "at least it isn't Tyler Perry" or set my my sights so low so that I can be "pleasantly surprised"? That bothers me, bothers me a whole lot. It's really offensive that when a film with a Black cast comes along, which ain't damn often, I have to turn off my brain & dull my senses to enjoy it. Even more offensive are comments like "Don't pay attention to the white critics", "their racism", etc etc. If I don't like it, does that mean I'm a white racist or just delusional in my understanding of my own Blackness? I can guarantee you that while everyone is screaming about "Hollywood noticing that black action films make can make money", they're also thinking something else & it came to me. My comment on another thread about it "not changing the Hollywood model one way or the other"- I want to amend that. Studios may make more "All-Black action films" because of RED TAILS. GOOD! I hope they do...it just might happen, I want my Black John McClaine!!. But if they do, since they copy what was done before, has anyone stopped to realize that the next one, and the next one, AND the next one will probably be just as crappy as this one (for recent examples, take the knockoffs of TWILIGHT & every Steven Segal/Jet Li "insert rapper here" movie) ? Because we turned out in force & said NOTHING critical or negative about it? I get voting with your dollar & I also get holding your nose while doing it. But to let it slide as a product because "well, we ain't got nothing else!"...BULLSHIT! We CAN have "something else", just demand MORE. And when you get your shot-since we spend so much time belaboring the point on S&A of not getting it-why make something mediocre at best & 2000 Flushes at worst! I've heard it all-we loved it because "it was historical" (don't get me started on the use of the word "historical"), or it was "just fun & entertaining" or the dagger in the heart-the Black men were "Positive". Ugh. Not everything has to be Oscar worthy, in fact I LOVE a good popcorn movie (for those that don't know-WARRIOR is a BEAST!)...but damn, if you make a BAD movie & people love it, why change that model?! Isn't that where we are with BET & TBS shows? I'm just at a loss with this collective, self-defeating > to want images so badly that the quality of said images can be poorly done or not worth a damn. I guess my problem is wanting more out of stuff, not just "Looking" Good but "Being" Good. I like my toys to look cool AND be lead-free know what I mean...silly me. I'm just perplexed by it all....

  • Rinny | January 22, 2012 9:02 PMReply

    Ne-Yo's "accent"...

  • CD | January 24, 2012 9:05 AM

    Ditto! Did he study old Richard Pryor albums trying to imitate Mudbone. I cringed everytime he spoke.

  • Phil Brown | January 22, 2012 6:45 PMReply

    Like you i really wanted to like this movie. I was so disappointed. I had no feeling of being transported to the 1940's i felt that it was just a bunch of guys running around in costume.
    They spoilt a huge action sequence at the beginning of the film by putting the titles right through it. The script was juvenile and at times embarrassing. The movie felt like a series of staged scenes with everything in its right place. Costumes, picture vehicles and sets felt too contrived. I felt no emotional attachment to the film. There was no grit or grime, no suffering. It felt like one long commercial for leather flying jackets.

  • Clayton | January 22, 2012 5:52 PMReply

    I had to support and I'm glad I did. But I didn't think it was good at all, and I wasn't expecting it to be. It barely dodged the preachy net but in doing so fell right into the campy bear trap. The dialogue was horrendous, even the German was bad. I also wish they did without the romance. Wasn't necessary and lacked plausibility. Most of the scenes played on heavy exposition that did nothing to move the story along. In most scenes, NOTHING HAPPENED. And if I directed it, I would've cut 3/4's of the score. It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. They scored everything and really made it swell on those obviously emotional and triumphant moments (rolling my eyes). The characters were one-dimensional, the "bad guys" were caricatures, and moments that could've been special were reduced to silliness. Like Miracle at St. Anna, Spike Lee's worst film ever in my humble opinion, they also had shown black military men as childish, undisciplined morons.

    But I prefer Red Tails way more than Miracle at St. Anna. I actually cared a bit more about the characters in the aforementioned and the dog fights were pretty exciting. Overall, I give it a kind 4/10. "Kind" for the noble effort by Lucas.

  • Liz | January 22, 2012 11:51 AMReply

    I have a Family of 87- direct descendants from me--kids-grands-great grands--- 41 of them have seen the film 3 times I haven't BUT knowing they dropped theier money as CHEAP as they are The Film must have struck something GOOD in them !!!

  • ok | January 22, 2012 2:49 PM

    that was funny!! lmao!!!

  • KMS | January 22, 2012 10:39 AMReply

    My long thought on the film here -- (Supporting Red Tails to Keep My Black Card Safe) http://sangriastilettos.blogspot.com/2012/01/supporting-red-tails-to-keep-my-black.html -- we had more drama in the lead up to the release than was in the actual film. See Red Tails or you're a bad person!

  • Jmac | January 22, 2012 12:50 AMReply

    Also went in with low expectations due to the Lucas/Daily Show interview. I expected an action film and that's what I got. I liked it for what it was. Saw it in a "hood" theater and all the blacks were cheering, clapping, laughing, commenting at the right places so I think it went over well. A little disappointed (and surprised) with the dialogue despite hearing about the rumors that Lucas watered it down. For the record, before I went out last night Rotten Tomatoes had audience reaction at 83%. Down to 72% right now. Not bad. If there are any sequels I hope the black writers and director (if keeping the same staff) get free reign to do their own thing...doubt it. I would say to anyone who really hates this film that I hope you are donating money regularly to support black films in development. We could have done Red Tails and any other black historical piece if we support such films in ways that really matter.

  • Reelblack | January 21, 2012 10:46 PMReply

    Tambay from a critical standpoint, you're pretty much spot on with this one. I think Black audiences are liking this a lot more than critics. There really is a need inside us to have quality representation of us on the big screen. All the buzz and boxoffice proves this. I praise everyone who is leaving their house in support of Red Tails.

    I wish there was a movie like this for me to see when I was little. I wish there were better movies like this being made for me to see as an adult. I wish their was more of them. I guess its up to us to make them ourselves. With George Lucas signing the checks.

    OK, that was fun. Now back to work.

  • Orville | January 22, 2012 9:56 PM

    Okay so white critics did not like Red Tails no one should be surprised. I kind of wish the Shadow and Act editors would write more about the RACISM of white film critics. I find it bizarre and odd that black films NEED white validation and acceptance by some people. I think this is terribly wrong. I have a SERIOUS problem with white critics reviewing black movies for a variety of reasons.

    1. Undercurrent of racial prejudices by white film critics.
    2. White film critics tend not to understand black culture.
    3. An attitude of superiority when reviewing black movies.

  • Ash | January 21, 2012 9:55 PMReply

    Before I watched it today, I saw that The Onion, my best and most informative news source had given it a C-. "Uh oh", I thought. Then my mother told me the Washington Post gave it 1 1/2 stars. "Impossible", I thought. That's a rating only reserved for The Devil Inside or a Tyler Perry movie. I thought it would be average. I just saw it. I give a C+ to B-. I think if I was a child I would've thought it were better. Having said that, my expectations were low and I don't care about action movies. I just really wanted it to not suck. I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I might be so that was a pleasant surprise. As for reactions of others in the theaters, two teenaged boys next to me said afterwards: "That was really good! It was sad though." And a white family leaving the theater said: "Well the special effects were good." LOL

  • Josh | January 21, 2012 9:54 PMReply

    Yeah, that was pretty bad. Horrible editing, horrible script, forgettable soundtrack. Acting wasn't great but you can only do so much with that script. "Die foolish African!" "Those pilot's are colored!" "Oh..............no." The action was underwhelming. Just when the POW camp subplot was getting interesting we go to Ne-Yo strumming a guitar. Why did subtitles appear halfway through the movie? Coulda used them for the love story. Pissed that the German nickname for the red tails("Black birdmen")was never used. Then Ray show's up at the end too break the somber mood; "call me ray gun!" LOL. Would love to know how he get from Poland to Italy in one piece. That would make for an awesome movie. My theatre was full and the audience(95 percent black)loved it. But lets be honest, it wasnt even better than the HBO movie. Save your money.

  • KMS | January 22, 2012 10:33 AM

    The FANTASTIC Ray Gun, I think it was. :-)

  • ok | January 21, 2012 8:49 PMReply

    i took a teenager that i work with/mentor to see the movie and he loved it, so mission accomplished. also to have to note that when i went i saw signs saying that several of the previous screenings had been sold and later one for tonight were sold out and i had friends that went yesterday that had to go to different theaters to see it because the times they wanted to see it were sold out. so i think this will definitely make 20+ mil. this weekend.

    as far as myself and what i thought of the movie, i went in with low expectations and they were slightly exceeded. overall the movie was fine, nothing i'd ever want to watch again though. the action scenes were cool/entertaining. the dialogue was stuttered and cheesy. nate parker stood out among the rest of the cast, he gave me flashes of denzel every now and then so i look forward to seeing more of him. the lover story was random but hey there's always a love story right, even in war, lol.

    my biggest gripe would have to be ne-yo, a lot of you guys have already stated it but i have to SAY IT WITH MY CHEST (kevin hart style), i f8cking hated his character. i know his part was to bring some comedic levity to the movie but did he have to go full coon?!?!?! boy i wish Sergeant Waters, from "A Soldier's Story", was in this movie to give his speech and let ne-yo know that "the day of the geechee is gone"!!!

  • CareyCarey | January 22, 2012 4:27 PM

    The line of the week goes to your Sergeant Waters from "A Soldiers Story" *LOL*. Yep, I could see it so vividly. He hated ol'boy (C. J. Memphis... he even had a geechies name *lol*). Yes sir, 5 stars and the comment of the week!

  • Donella | January 22, 2012 3:18 PM

    @OK ***"nate parker stood out among the rest of the cast, he gave me flashes of denzel every now"*** Me too! I didn't want to say he's the Next Denzel because I didn't want to put him in a box, but I kept flashing back to A Soldier's Story everytime I saw him on screen. He makes excellent choices in film roles--Secret Life of Bees, Pride, Great Debaters, etc--and delivers everytime. I think he was the standout in the ensemble. ***"boy i wish Sergeant Waters, from "A Soldier's Story", was in this movie to give his speech and let ne-yo know that "the day of the geechee is gone"!!!***"Again, I agree. I kept waiting for someone in the movie to finally lose it and tell his character to shut up.

  • KMS | January 22, 2012 10:34 AM

    Agreed about Nate Parker. If given the opportunity, I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.

  • BONDGIRL | January 21, 2012 9:50 PM

    I cannot stop laughing at "the day of the geechee is gone!" Yeah, Ne-Yo was unexpectedly embarrassing. I winced every time he spoke.

  • Orville | January 21, 2012 8:09 PMReply

    I think people need to chill and get a clue! Red Tails isn't the best movie of all time.
    People can attack George Lucas and say the script isn't perfect BUT the man used his own damn money to get this movie made because white Hollywood didn't want to! The movie even has interracial romance and some might say big deal. Again, black men/white women is usually a taboo in American films! I sincerely hope Red Tails pushes Hollywood to EXPAND their horizons and black actors can have more RANGE of movie roles.

    But I it is good here is a black film that not about a black guy in drag, or about black maids in the American south. There is no white saviour in this movie. Okay, Red Tails has some problems BUT the box office for this weekend will be solid $6 million on a Friday according to Box Office Mojo that is excellent! This movie might break $17 million and since the budget is $58 million I think it can turn a profit.

  • Jay | January 21, 2012 6:45 PMReply

    I saw it and liked the movie. I don't know what the bad reviews are all about. I have see very bad hollywood movies that did over a 100 million at the box office. If this movie was an all white cast, we wont be having this conversation here. I'm glad I didn't pay attention to the reviews before seeing it. If you haven't seen it, go and see it and you wont be disappointed.

  • MFAScreenwriter | January 21, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    I came in with low expectations. This movie is more perplexing than disappointing. Much has been said about the presentism and anachronisms in the script. The mailed-in love story. But to me it's the strange editing and direction that ruins this film. Every darn transition in this film is either a wipe or a dissolve. (**Meanwhile back in the Bat Cave**). Literally every bit of reflection, nuance or humanity is WIPED AWAY. It makes no sense. Tense moment between David O and Nate Parker...WIPE. Tristan Wilds crash lands in enemy territory...here comes a Nazi...oh oh what's going to happe--WIPE. Hemmingway is a veteran TV director. Lucas has been at this for decades. Cuba Gooding and Terrance Howard are pros...And yet no one behind or in front of the camera said anything about the strange editing style????

  • foolishAfrican | January 21, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    I saw it. I didn't love it. I think it was rather disrespectful to the subject matter and too rosy for my comfort. SPOILER ALERT: Apparently, there was only one pilot in the entire German army, and black soldiers captured by the Nazi regime could expect to be treated rather well. The dialogue was stuttered but for the performance of the male lead (don't know his name, character's name was Easy) and Terrence Howard who is very good at looking serious. The acting was patchy and not raw enough - we laughed so much at our screening at some of the ridiculousness. And considering that Italy was on the other side of the war for the longest time, the fact that an interracial couple could just be happily strolling down the street at the heart of the war, in a country that even today "deports" hundreds of thousands of Roma because they are all "thieves"... it was all just too much. BUT, the last 20 minutes was decent.

  • Ghost | January 21, 2012 4:51 PMReply

    I am not able to see this film-it's SOLD OUT EVRYWHERE in Dallas and most of the cities around it. Folks were getting turned away in droves or went to see Underworld instead. There were folks going just based on the trailers and some didn't even know who was in the cast. Most could careless that there were no black women in the film and didn't know Lucas funded the whole film. Once they found out they understood some of the special "Star Warish" effect the planes were doing. A lot of folsk I know were expectign the worst but are shocked to see folks turn out for the film that has already been projected in making $6 million on Friday alone.

  • Nadine | January 21, 2012 8:56 PM

    ..."Most could careless that there were no black women in the film and didn't know Lucas funded the whole film."...does that make you feel better about yourself? No one said that the intended audience (which per usual did not include Black women) would care that Black women would not be in the film... @GHOST... what was your point... that there were no protests? What was your point, you came up with an unfounded theory that was dis-proven when you went to the theaters...what?!?!?

  • Donella | January 21, 2012 5:20 PM

    "SOLD OUT EVRYWHERE in Dallas and most of the cities around it" That's amazing!

  • Donella | January 21, 2012 4:34 PMReply

    I entered Red Tails with NO expectations. I was actually thrilled by the action, very pleased with the cast, and impressed with the turnout. Within seconds of the movie beginning, the clear reason why the Tuskegee Airmen became necessary--the white bomber escorts were unreliable defenders and refused to play their positions. During the first moments of interaction amongst the Airmen, I kept remembering the opening scenes from A Soldier's Story. A Soldier's Story was a murder mystery and Red Tails is action. However, both movies showcased an array of Black military men during a similar period of time--country, urban, intellectual, hot heads, jokers, and thinkers. NeYo's "chewing tabaccky, country boy" talk was annoying. Every other actor in the movie spoke clearly enough to make points about faulty airplane equipment, lack of opportunities, and harassment by white officers. Cuba Gooding Jr was restrained, the pipe in the mouth helped. Terrance Howard played a role similar to that in Pride, inspirational, indignant, stern coach (commander). I think I saw Method Man as a mechanic? David O (Lightning) was the loose canon easily distracted by opportunities to rack up kill points and the cornball romance with the Italian woman. Lightning's character provided the main conflict with Nate Parker's character (Easy) who had doubts about his leadership. BTW, Nate Parker is a shining star. I sensed that the script had interference from Big Daddy. It's just not a George Lucas movie unless there is fabulous action, but cringe-worthy dialogue. He did that with Star Wars, as well, so... that's George. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The matinee audience in the theater was mixed-race and consisted mostly of men 30+ and couples. Accessible to families, boys that like bangs, girls that like boys that like bangs, action lovers, and military buffs.

  • JP | January 21, 2012 3:52 PMReply

    I thought that movie was disrespectfully bad. If I was one of the Tuskegee Airmen I would have punched George Lucas in the face for putting that mess on the screen and then trying to guilt Black folk into supporting it. The dialogue was terrible. The story was basically non-existent. Last I heard, I thought the airmen were college grads who tested extremely high on all of their aptitude tests to even qualify for the program, so how would some coon like Ne-Yo's character even be allowed? Sure the dogfights were fun, and its always great seeing Black folks on screen, but for a movie that cost as much as Lucas says it did, the HBO movies from years back had WAY better production values. For all the hate that Miracle At St. Anna gets, you can't tell me that Red Tails is a better "Black war film."

  • Wayne | January 21, 2012 4:27 PM

    Spot on! I co-sign on what JP said. Ne-Yo, after Battle :Los Angeles this was a step back. The big question : What is OUR responsibility, if any, as black film goers? Should we support crap or demand quality products? I feel Bamboozeled!

  • Meghan | January 21, 2012 3:32 PMReply

    Totally agree! There were so many cliches in the script & I didn't think the acting was all that great...not to mention the subplots they threw in there

  • bashe | January 21, 2012 3:26 PMReply

    I was (unexpectedly) moved by it. Like SAYNAY, I saw it in a theater with plenty of middle-aged black folks who were cheering and clearly into it. Maybe one of the reasons I found it an ultimately moving film was that the longing for a cinematic portrayal of black heroism just seemed palpable in the theater. And the fact that it was based on "true events" made it all the more poignant.

    I could nit-pick the film to death, sure. (I definitely agree with RAY that it didn't feel nearly enough like a period-piece, the uniforms and planes notwithstanding.) Much of what everyone has criticized about the film I completely agree with. But somehow, completely unexpectedly, I found myself profoundly moved by the film.

  • Ray | January 21, 2012 1:28 PMReply

    I wasn't blown away, i mean it was "ok" but it was hella cheesy to me, Ne-Yo made me wince every time he was on camera, there was a lot of stuff wrong to me. I DO understand the importance, and there were a lot of black people out in the theater that I saw it at(New Orleans) so I'm glad people are going out to see it. But it just missed the mark in a lot of areas to me. I was excited from day 1 because it has so many younger actors, and some established actors attached to it, but I just don't think they had much to work with. Also it was a period piece, I didn't feel like I was really in that timeframe watching this film. I mean yea they had the uniforms & the set & stuff, but it just didn't feel real to me. I'll give it a C, I did make it all the way through, but the storyline was just weak to me, the acting was off to me because of the cheesy script. I blame a lot of that on myself, because I was anticipating a serious, character driven war movie, in the eyes of say a Glory or something like that, but this was NOT that. I DO hope it does well in the box office, maybe if a good story comes along for a black cast studios will take more chances in the future, but this was a typical blockbuster that falls short of delivery.

  • tepnlex | January 21, 2012 12:57 PMReply

    Keen cinema observers could tell that the studio amd producers weren't in chorus with how to market, amd whom to market this movie to. Nevertheless, im glad it made it to the theater .
    I was hoping for more of a "Men of Honor" angle, that focused on distinct instances of overcoming injustice and racism. I came in with low expectations, but was excited to see it, and left the theater feeling better about the movie than I did coming in.

  • Donnie Leapheart | January 21, 2012 12:33 PMReply

    I can assure you that one thing all the parties involved with the making of this film will (rightfully) be saying is: "You can't please everyone." They could also say: "You keep complaining that you want more variety than just Tyler Perry films, you get something and STILL complain. You people will never be satisfied." There lies the problem for me, fellas. I pretty much agree with everything stated in your reviews, Tambay and Sergio...and as a writer I kept thinking that after 20 years in the making, the screenplay and characterizations should've been a lot better, even for a film for teens. Also, not that it should be compared, but I remember seeing "Glory" as a young pre-teenage boy... it was a mature well-written & acted film that educated, entertained and made me feel proud to be African American. As an adult, that film still holds up. However, the conflict within for Red Tails comes from not completely loving the film yet still wanting to appreciate the variety in content. Where else have we seen that many talented black actors in one theatrically released film without Tyler Perry's (profitable) name before the title?

  • eshowoman | January 21, 2012 12:29 PMReply

    I guess since my expectations were low, I enjoyed the film.

  • AI | January 21, 2012 12:24 PMReply

    I think people went in expecting Glory will be disappointed. People who went in expecting Indiana Jones with Black faces will not. It is what it is. Good ticket sales for a bigger budget film still benefit Blacks in Hollywood as long as we keep it up for other movies. I'd like to add that, coincidentally, the theater I went to was full of Whites. So there's an interesting spin. If anything, George Lucas brought out our lighter brethren.

  • Clayton | January 22, 2012 6:03 PM

    @Gregory Ford... Offended by Star Wars? Really? Aren't we taking ourselves a bit too seriously here?

  • Cherish | January 21, 2012 9:32 PM

    @OK. Wrong. Reviews are given without revealing key plotlines. Or else what's the purpose of Ebert and 95% of other writers out there? Granted, not expecting a professional review here, but people should not reveal names of major character's death so easily.

  • ok | January 21, 2012 9:06 PM

    @cherish clearly this post is for people to give reviews/thoughts about the movie, typically reviews on movies talk about/give away plots--- everybody knows this.

    you'd have to be an idiot to come read a review about a movie and not expect some part of the plot to be revealed. sheesh!!

  • Cherish | January 21, 2012 8:47 PM

    Stop giving away plots in the movie. A character's death sheesh! Editors?

  • Gregory Ford | January 21, 2012 6:23 PM

    YES! Indiana Jones or Star Wars with Black faces was precisely what this film was. A comic book, of sorts. That's not necessarily disrespectful. And so, there is much value in this project. Liking it or not may be beside the point. I have never been a fan of the Indiana Jones or Star Wars films. I did not go to see another Star Wars film after the first. I was kind of offended by that film. But one thing that is important to me about this is the willingness to engage in myth making - just like Indiana Jones and Star Wars - with Black faces. I think that's important. And the racial mixture of the audience is a phenomenal moment. I was sitting next to 4 Latino brothers who were having a ball in this movie. And the audience was absolutely reverent in the theater. No talking back to the characters in the the movie. It was in DC so the references to Howard University got a respectful positive response. I enjoyed the Italian lover. I think she had an advantage in that her words were for the most part not understood by a many people in the audience and all of her acting had to be with her body - which by me she did fabulously - the moment of her collapse when she hears of Lightning's death is notable for its restraint and poignancy. And there wasn't an accidental moment in the film as far as I could see. It was staged down to the hairs.

  • SayNay | January 21, 2012 11:21 AMReply

    I liked it. Everyone in the theater cheered and clapped at the end. It was cheesy as hell, don't get me wrong, but for some reason it didn't really bother me as much. However, I do agree that this film had a hard time deciding what it wanted to be...melodrama or action. Maybe part of the problem is that Lucas was hoping to take a longer view by trying to squeeze out a trilogy instead of one solid film. Also let's be real, while the budget is certainly one of the largest we've seen for a predominantly black film in a while, $58 mil is a drop in the bucket for an action flick and some of the technical aspects suffered as a result. That crappy Katherine Heigl flick "Killers" had a bigger budget than "Red Tails." I guess all I'm saying is I was willing to give it some latitude.

  • Gai | January 21, 2012 11:19 AMReply

    I loved the movie...not because it was a cinematic classic but because it showed African American men in the cockpit showcasing their excellence and skill. I loved the movie because it carried an almost all Black cast but to me that fact disappeared and I was watching a film about heroes. I loved the movie because I saw my dad an Original Tuskegee Airman who was actually stationed at Ramitelli and participated in the mission to Berlin depicted in the movie through the characters in the film. After years of hearing him tell the stories I finally got a chance to visualize and feel it as if I was there. I left the film exhilarated and very proud of my dad and the other Tuskegee Airmen of their accomplishments. The movie wasn't perfect and I'm sure there are things the team who made Red Tails would like to improve...but what I take from it and will never forget is the feeling of incredulity of SEEING their story and being able to connect to my own personal story and legacy.

  • al | January 21, 2012 11:14 AMReply

    I took my family to see it including our 16 year old son. Barry is a typical teenage boy who only cares about 16 -17 yr old girls and playing football. It's been 3 years since we could get him to see a movie with us. He actually enjoyed the it. Lucas said he made the flick for teenaged boys. Mission accomplished.

  • Gina | January 21, 2012 11:04 AMReply

    Tambay, I actually thought you weren't going to do a review of the movie :) I thought you were going to just sneak out of the room quietly and attribute your lack of a review to the pressing duties of Sundance. If your review had been more positive, would you have published it earlier? Have fun at Sundance!

  • Sergio | January 21, 2012 11:03 AMReply

    Speaking for myself I hated it even more than Tambay. I think it was a terrific subject for a film that was done in by George Lucas' tinkering (like how he ruined those early Star wars films and THX-1138). Instead of making what could have been a serious and compelling film it's instead a truly silly movie made on a 8th grade level. Even Hemingway himself said, in that N.Y. Times piece about Lucas this week, that he originally wanted to make a more mature film about the Airmen but was basically overruled by Lucas. The dialogue is laughingly bad, the characterization is thin or nonexistent and the acting is worse And can someone tell me what's the deal with Cuba Gooding Jr and that damn pipe and PLEASE don't get me stated on Ne-yo and that irritating Amos and Andy, mush-mouth, po' county accent voice that he uses. He's basically the movie's Jar Jar Binks.

    Oh yeah and there's that fantasyland interracial romance which starts off when one of fliers INSTANTLY falls in love with a Italian woman while flying 500 feet in the air over her. Really? WOW! White women sure are powerful aren't they? And he can't stop talking to everyone about how beautiful she is. So you're telling me that there were no beautiful black women where he's from?

    In other words this film sucks big time. I'm going to see Pariah again

  • Aaron | January 26, 2012 7:28 AM

    I was actually stationed in Europe for two years in the Army. AND YES, Interracial relationships were very common between black men and white women. Remember, even in the 30's and 40's European attitudes on race were slightly different from American attitudes. As far back as WW1, black soldiers emigrated to France after the war because they found better treatment amongst the French population then they would in oh say, Alabama.

  • DERRICK | January 22, 2012 12:02 AM

    My criticism for this movie is two fold:

    A) As a film maker- The dialog for the movie was surprisingly flat and so it was reflected in the acting. The conflict didn't seem to really sink past the topical superficial level. I would have liked to see more back-story or dilemma in the protagonist's character (Martin "Easy" Julian). The transitions took away from the story instead of adding to it. All the dissolves and wipes became increasingly annoying - ESPECIALLY when they transitioned during moments when the audience was leaning in to see what would happen next. The movie showed more like a story board or comic book, because plots were so obvious that they were even spelled out in some scenes. Each character needed more time for their story to develop. But already at 2 hours, I'm sure Hollywood Execs were already cutting scenes out of the film. Joe 'Lightning' Little's love story, Ray 'Junior' Gannon's escape story, Martin "Easy" Julian's backstory all could have shown more conflict or dimension; instead of the under handing the BAND-AID/ALL's BETTER ending we received.

    B) As a movie goer- After leaving the movie I felt more connected to the audience- which was very strange. I was excited to see a very diverse crowd in the movie theater for a predominately black cast film. (Caucasian mothers with their daughters, teenagers, mid 40s couples, African Americans) The movie has a few moments of good comical relief when the audience empathizes with the characters. The 'gangsta' in the seat next to me was sniffling at the end of the movie while his girlfriend clung to him; and I also heard a few other people sniffling as well. So at least we know the audience connected with at least one of the characters on screen. A few people awkwardly laughed at Sofia's "I Love You" confession which caused the audience to laugh in unison (Not at the character, but with). It was strange. For the movie to have been so flat- I walked away feeling good. Not so much heroic but in the fact that people actually talked about the film afterwards. It sparked conversation. The audience clapped for the first 20 seconds of the ending credits becasue they actually felt as though they went through an experience. Though I'm sure many of them still don't know why they feel the way they do.

    And for these reasons: My review of the movie is a mixed one. I'm glad the film was made, I actually thought the original HBO 'Tuskegee Airmen' was a better film with a more serious tone that actually addressed the racial issues and tension head on and effectively (Straighten Up, Fly Right). Mediocre script, mediocre story, mediocre movie. Good start for Anthony Hemingway; and unfortunately this didn't have Lucas's signature touch- just his money.

  • ShebaBaby | January 21, 2012 1:48 PM

    Sergio you have me rolling with this. And yes, to let the black men in in Los Angeles tell it, white women ARE that powerful because they are jumping over black women left and right to get to them. I find it ironic that almost every black actor in this film is dating or married to a white woman when it's George Lucas that has a sista. I don't get how you can be a "brotha" without a "sista" but maybe that's just me. Things that definitely make you go hmmmm.

  • Lovely | January 21, 2012 10:58 AMReply

    I enjoyed Red Tails! It wasn't about women cleaning up houses. Nor was it about a man dressed up as a black woman. It depicted something historical. That black man can and have been heroes. As a writer of tv and film was I super hype about the dialogue? Not necessarily. That didn't make it a bad movie. The movie told a story and it entertained. As an audience member, I felt a range of emotions from joy, to sadness, to hope. It did what a movie is suppose to do.

  • woh | January 24, 2012 10:47 AM

    Thanks Lovely. I agree. Not the best film made about African-Americans military heroes but I did enjoy it. It's been too long since I felt all those emotions in one movie.

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