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

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 21, 2012 at 10:35AM

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?
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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?

This article is related to: Reviews


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