We've been waiting a while for producer George Lucas's take on the World War II Tuskegee airmen, now set for release by Twentieth Century Fox on January 20, 2012. Anthony Hemingway (Treme, The Wire, Battlestar Galactica) directs a script by John Ridley (Three Kings) and a sprawling ensemble led by Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Andre Royo (The Wire). Produced by Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson, the film boasts a score by frequent Spike Lee composer Terence Blanchard.
Lucas promises extraordinary aerial flying effects from his own ILM, quotes Immersed in Movies:
"The Tuskegee Airmen were such superb pilots that it was essential for us to create visual effects that would live up to their heroism and put audiences in the cockpit with them. They were only in their early 20s when they performed these amazing feats. They became the best of the best—the top guns. It is an honor to bring to the screen a story inspired by their heroics.”
More details, the rousing trailer and an official synopsis are below.
Gooding, Jr. also raves about the VFX, reports blackfilm.com: "The movie is breathtaking, and the thing about it is, visually you haven’t seen the things that George is doing with these fighter sequences...I don’t want it to sound like it’s going to be a historical thing, which it is, but visually, I’m telling you, if you stay in your seat while you’re watching this movie I’ll be shocked."
Synopsis: 1944. World War II rages and the fate of the free world hangs in the balance. Meanwhile the black pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program are courageously waging two wars at once – one against enemies overseas, and the other against discrimination within the military and back home. Racial prejudices have long held ace airman Martin “Easy” Julian (Nate Parker) and his black pilots back at base – leaving them with little to do but further hone their flying skills – while their white counterparts are shipped out to combat after a mere three months of training. Mistakenly deemed inferior and assigned only second-rate planes and missions, the pilots of Tuskegee have mastered the skies with ease but have not been granted the opportunity to truly spread their wings.
As the war in Europe continues to take its dire toll on Allied forces, Pentagon brass has no recourse but to reconsider these under-utilized pilots for combat duty. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) awards them the ultimate chance to prove their mettle high above. Undaunted by the prospect of providing safe escort to bombers in broad daylight – a mission so dangerous that the RAF has refused it and the white fighter groups have sustained substantial losses – Easy’s pilots at last join the fiery aerial fray. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies in a heroic endeavor to combat the enemy – and the discrimination that has kept them down for so long.