Red Tails (2012)

It’s like a mixture of ‘Flyboys’ without all of the white people and ‘Miracle at St. Anna’ without all of the whatever the hell else Spike Lee put in there.

The film is based on the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all black combat squadron who fought in World War 2. Besides the war against the enemies overseas the men also had to fight against racism and prejudice in the military and back home.

And so marks my first ever press screening ever after about 2 years of reviewing films. Yay!! It was great to see the packed crowd, all of the soldiers in uniform, fellow press agents, and even the original dudes that this film is based on, but for some reason that wasn’t enough to get by the fact that this film is pretty bad in the first place.

Although the film is directed by first-timer Anthony Hemingway, it still feels very much like a George Lucas flick, who actually produced this and tried to get it off the ground for over 23 years even using his own money. This could have easily been directed by Lucas because everything here just feels like him. Everything here feels dull from the characters, to the story, to the planes, and even to the special effects which over-power just about every scene to where it’s noticeable right away and very distracting.

The film’s script also tries so hard to be funny, dramatic, and moving but just comes off as terribly hokey. I was in a crowd full of people that laughed at just about every single damn word that these characters said but I couldn’t find a single, genuine laugh other than when the characters were all trying to be serious. The tale itself though is a very important one none the less and I was at least glad that this was actually getting some love for the first time but it’s all bogged-down by the painful predictable story arcs. Anybody who has seen this kind of film before can definitely notice all of the clichés here such as the love-story sub-plot that still seems forced no matter what, the kid who just isn’t ready for war/battle, the one soldier who has personal demons of his own to fight along with the war, one soldier who gets too cocky and could put himself into danger, and the fact that not only are these soldiers fighting the enemy up in the air, but they are also fighting them on the ground…with racism!! Don’t forget to bring your check book of war-movie clichés because I can promise you that every single one will be checked off by the end of this long as hell film.

The only time that this flick actually has some life brought into it is when they filmed the aerial battles themselves. The dogfights here, have a certain energy that the rest of the flick doesn’t really have and to be honest, they are very entertaining to watch considering we don’t get to see much of aerial-fights in war films nowadays. However, even when these aerial fights do happen, they still feel like something we have all seen done before. Instead of actually giving these high-flying fights some real danger, the film feels and looks more as if it was a just another video-game sequence like ‘The Adventures of Tintin’. After all of this time, you would have thought that Hollywood and films would start to find out new and improved ways of portraying these fights in the air, but they never really change.

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard are given top-billing for this film to ensure that it has some star-power to it but the problem is that they aren’t really in the film all that much which is a shame considering that these two need a big come-back of sorts. Nate Parker and David Oyelowo are the two here that actually stand-out and give their characters some real authenticity but they can never get past the fact that they are still one-dimensional war hero’s. Out of the rest of the supporting cast, everybody here is basically just running through their lines without any real emotion or feeling, and it’s weird to say this but the one out of the whole cast who actually had me laughing was freakin’ Ne-Yo. Yes, that dude who sang that song about being so sick of love songs, was the funniest part of this film considering he had me chuckle about twice.

Consensus: Its heart may be in the right place, but Red Tails is still a terrible-looking CGI action flick with wooden performances from almost everybody involved, and cliché upon cliché to really take the heart out of what could have been an important story.



    • Definitely has but I would still like to see him try his hand at those art-house/smaller films. I do think he has some true talent, but he’s starting to lose his mind honestly.

  1. Congrats on seeing it as press 🙂 I have press passes for a few movies but not many, certainly not through my own site as it doesn’t have the stats yet.

    Are you in the Detroit area like me?

  2. The story of The Tuskegee Airmen has been done a number of times, and I agree that I don’t think that this was it’s strongest version. I reviewed it, and liked it a bit more than you. Im a female, so the man power in this film alone already gives it higher marks for me…lol. I think this film lacked strong writing and direction. Of course the story arc’s are predictable, but I can’t understand what twist would have made it better for you, without making everything seem unreal. We can’t rewrite history. The movie wasn’t as strong as I hoped it would be, but it was ok…

  3. I’ve read similar reviews throughout the web and it seems you’re pretty spot on with your analysis. I enjoyed the enthusiasm behind your honesty here and I wouldn’t see this movie based on your review at all. Mission accomplished!

  4. It was a different movie…….we should embrace the “not-over-the-top” acting by Cuba G. And Terrence D. It was refreshing…..entertaining. A calm but moving movie experience. It is what ” it “was about, not what we wanted it to be.

  5. I was hoping this one would be better. Good observation about the video game quality of the air dogfights. The little they show in the trailer definitely has that quality.

    Also, good point about Lucas’ fingerprints being all over the film.

  6. 😀 I dont know if I’d bash it THAT bad… it was more like a 5 (I thought) but I certainly agree on all the points you raise. Not recommendable

    Congratulations on getting into a press screening man. You deserve it. Keep up the good work. 😀

  7. I thought the film was solid and some of the acting was a little forced, but I have to say Ne-Yo’s character was the most annoying to me with that over hyped accent. I was surprised he could maintain it for so long. Just like the war movies of old, they come in all types. If you want the full historical analysis of the Red Tails, watch HBO’s Tuskegee Airmen. If you want some aerial action and a different view of black fighter pilots during World War II, then watch Red Tails.

  8. Congrats on your first press screening! 🙂 You do write quality reviews.

    Lol to this one though. I’m not huge on watching violence flicks and I didn’t like any of the people in this movie enough to do my “I’ll grit my teeth and make an exception,” type of thing. Based on your review, looks like I did well to sit this one out. Kind of disappointing to hear it wasn’t that great though, because of the true story it is based on.

  9. Completely agree with the forced, cliched dialogue. It also seemed that they tried to add every single thing into the movie. A love story, action, drama, comedy. It just seemed way too forced onto the audience. Besides Howard and Gooding Jr., the acting was pretty bad as well.

  10. You are right on the money with your review. The movie could have been powerful and had the potential of leaving a meaningful impression. Instead I was left wanting. Thanks for your comments on my review.

  11. This was right on point; along the same lines as my review. The highlight of the movie, as you said, were the dogfight scenes. You could tell Mr. Lucas had his hand in this because those very scenes felt like Star Wars on Earth! While I didn’t like the movie, I hope it does well. I’d hate to see other films get the red light because this one stalled out of the gate.

  12. I agree. The only scenes with genuine feeling are the aerial scenes. The film is a nice gesture and had a lot of untapped potential. Nice review. Keep up the good work.

  13. It was just a typical war movie, you are right. I didn’t find Ne-Yo funny at all, I actually thought they might write him off earlier lol thanks for reading my review =)

  14. I agree with your review some. However, I think it was meant to be simplistic and sort of a mimic of the old war movies of the past. However, I can’t help but think that if it did seem to be pretty basic dialogue, much of that was due to the fact that Aaron McGruder, creator of the Boon Docks actually wrote the screenplay for it. However, I thought it was inspirational nonetheless and didn’t really need the overthetop special effects that you’d get from a Transformers remake. It served it’s purpose, which was to give credit where credit was due, remind us of the battle that they fought, in the military and internally, as black men who were thought to even be too inferior to fight for their country:( Btw, yes….Neyo was pretty funny.

  15. I’m bummed this is bad. The previews looked rad. For some reason none of the movie theaters are even playing it.

  16. Oh dear. It looked good from the trailers but I won’t be hurrying to see this. George Lucas has lost his mojo…in fact, I think he lost it some time in the 80s.

  17. I completely agree with you, very lackluster film. I personally am disappointed with story that wasn’t told. High hopes made for a longer drop for me

  18. I’m not saying that this is the best movie of 2012. Not by a longshot. I wish that the movie had better writing. It’s felt like Hallmark movie to me. Did we need to see Little’s romance with the Italian lady? Not really. The drinking? Ray Gun behind enemy lines?

    I think the HBO movie is way better than this. It’s a shame. People have been saying that the black movies don’t sell. It’s not true. It’s subpar black movies that don’t sell. “The Help” did quite well based on word of mouth. It can happens. Not with this movie.

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