I knew it was only going to be a matter of time. Recently I have watched a string of movies at the theater which I deemed very entertaining. I knew though, there would be more films I was going to be disappointed in and unfortunately Red Tails wasn’t as good as I hoped.
Red Tails is the story of the famed Tuskegee airmen and their contribution to the war effort in Europe during World War II. This is a great story to be told and an important one at that. I’ve read that producer George Lucas wanted this movie made and pretty much paid for the whole thing. He should have made sure the product matched the material.
Not everything was terrible. The CGI aerial battle scenes were exciting and well done. These action scenes were big and spectacular and saved this film from being a total train (or plain) wreck. Also, an effort was made to be true to historical accuracy and several minor details were as they should have been. Now, it was not totally accurate but most of the things that didn’t stack to reality were relatively minor and only a history nut like me would even notice. A couple of actors, namely Nate Parker and David Oyelowo, did much with a weak script.
Now for the bad stuff. Most of the dialogue was stiff and unnatural, full of lackluster speeches and empty platitudes. The story lines of the pilots were shallow and not fleshed out at all. Parker and Oyelowo did a good job but it was never established why each of their flawed characters had their demons. There was a romantic plot line that featured the usually fantastic Daniella Ruah that was just awkward and uncomfortable. The actors had zero chemistry or spark and had to work around an awful script. This plot served no purpose in moving along the story as a whole and dragged down the film’s pace drastically. Even on the issue of race and prejudice, this script came up way short of being intriguing, using stale, stagnant scenes that was as poor as it was unimaginative.
I’m sorry that such talents as Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Gerald McRaney, and Michael B. Jordon were wasted on such a poor film. It had a chance to be something special but it stalled when it got away from the CGI driven action scenes. It was like the film makers were torn between the idea of an action film and the idea of an important period piece dealing with an important and inspiring group of men. The movie made a big mistake fictionalizing all characters, probably so they could just spew out any contrived plotline they wanted.
If it is cool action with some really beautiful aerial views, this is the movie for you. It certainly has its entertaining moments and they are not few. My twelve year old son, who is a big history fan, absolutely loved the movie. He didn’t care about the writing or the love story, or the other side plots. He loved the planes, the dog fights, and the history. If those are what you like in a movie, you will enjoy this film. If you are looking for a well written drama with well developed characters and real, raw, believable story lines, you will be sorely disappointed.
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