There is an inexplicable phenomenon that comes with fatherhood that draws a fascination with WWII. For some reason we actually stop and check out the History Channel just to see what’s on, and when a special like WWII in HD comes along, we prepare for weeks like it’s the World Cup of fatherhood.
The “dad” executive of Girls Fantasy costumes was asked to step down on Nov. 1st
One of the greatest stories to rise from this horrible war was that of the “Tuskeegee Airmen” The first African American fighter pilots in American military history. The unit was headed by Colonel AJ Bullard (Terrence Howard) and Major Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.)
Back in the 40’s segregation was an unavoidable fact of life. Not only did these pilots fight for a country that not only considered them inferior, they fought more skillfully than most aviators of that time. Playing a major role in not only the campaign against Germany, but also in breaking down walls of learned prejudice in America, as most white pilots in the B-17 flying fortresses would breath a sigh of relief when they noticed the shining “red tails” of the Tuskeegee airmen escorting them on a mission.
I was excited when I heard of a new high budget movie about this group of men in World War II, and when I learned that George Lucas was involved with it, I got a semi.
Say what you will about George Lucas, but this man has created and given us some of the greatest characters and imaginative stories since the invention of the motion picture. He has received A LOT of flack over the past decade for his tinkering with Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Many people feel that he is “molesting” the memories of their childhood by his CGI incorporated re-releases and new sequels. But whether or not you give a damn if “Han shot first” or were outraged because the Crystal Skulls sucked (it did) they were all in fact, HIS stories. Created in HIS imagination. If he wants to put a digital mustache on Jabba the Hut, he has every right to do so. Turning on Lucas for that is like having your father GIVE you a 4 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house, but being pissed because he forgot to flush a floater in the “.5”
Our minds cannot even grasp the degree of freakyness taking place in that man’s “S’bank”
Amazingly, Lucas began developing Red Tails in 1988. But because of the all black cast, he was unable to get funding from any major movie studio (I guess we now know Tyler Perry is not one of his LinkedIn connections). Because Lucas believed in this film so much, he put up his own money, personally investing 58 million into production and 35 million into marketing (Apparently he thought this was a better option than a vacation house ON THE MOON).
The visuals in this film are spectacular. I was greatly relieved that Lucas didn’t “overuse” CGI in this film. Although it was used throughout, it helped create some excellent wartime scenery and realistic mid air dogfights.
Another positive was that the story remained focused on a small group of the Tuskeegee airmen and not the entire division. A lesson learned from Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, where a small group of soldiers allows character development and sympathy. In contrast to Spielberg’s other war saga Band of Brothers, which (although an excellent series) may have had too many characters to follow to the point that the audience didn’t know who was dying or who was talking in any given scene. In Red Tails, they even painted the pilot’s name on the outside of the plane allowing the audience to follow along in every scene.
Finally, I am in no way dismissing the racism of the era, but I was eager to see how big of a role it would play in this film. It was definitely a major element in the lives of these men, and does not deserve to be overshadowed, but I was not sure if the movie would focus more on the segregation of the era or the combat of the war. I found it to be a nice balance, with great wartime action, while still conveying the true ignorance of inequality in American history.
David Duke’s interpretation never made it to theaters
It wouldn’t be a George Lucas film if the sequel wasn’t in the works before completing the original. This film is rumored to have both a sequel AND a prequel tied to it. There are so many amazing stories from this era, I can only hope they spread the production style around as the PG-13 rating Lucas is known for just doesn’t cut it for a war movie.
It was that PG-13 feel that made this film at times feel like a Disney movie. It was a bit unrealistic for a world ravaged by war. Also when marketing for audiences of ALL ages, they feel the need to “dumb down the script,” meaning they use dialogue at times to explain what’s happening for the dummies in the audience. “Look, they are giving up glory to save our asses” is not exactly the conversation I imagine the crews of B-17s would be saying while getting shot at by hundreds of German aircraft.
Because of that PG-13 rating, some of the drama and attempts to draw goosebumps from the audience fell short. The “Disney” feel of the movie diminished the push intended to deliver inspirational adrenalin or an emotional response, and ended up feeling unnatural and forced.
Unrelated, but not entirely deserving another beer (because it is no fault of this film), but why is it no one can explain what happens to the thousands of bullets fired in a dogfight that miss? It’s not in your history textbooks, it’s not a History Channel topic, but curiosity sets in when a group of aircraft are firing literally thousands of bullets and perhaps 50 of them catch the target. Where do all the other bullets go? They must hit the ground pretty hard; did many people in Europe die from that? Why was that never explained to me? I have a theory that is how Swiss cheese was invented.
Visually spectacular and entertaining with likable characters, but I expected a bit more. You will quickly realize the limitations that come with the PG-13 rating, and this is not the high-budget war movie we are thirsty for. Though, it is a great movie for preteens to learn about the Tuskeegee Airmen.
Bonus Drinking Games
Take a Drink: for every neatly trimmed “upper lip” mustache on screen
Take a Drink: every time black Jesus is mentioned
Take a Drink: for every plane shot down in a dogfight
Down a Shot: for every B-17 bomber that is shot out of the air
Down a Shot: anytime someone says the word “Tuskeegee”