• PG-13, 2 hr.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Anthony Hemingway
    In Theaters:
    Jan 20, 2012 Wide
    On DVD:
    May 22, 2012
  • 20th Century Fox


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Red Tails Reviews

Page 1 of 150
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

November 6, 2012
Although I do feel that the Tuskegee pilots deserved better, I don't think that the hate for this movie is really justified. It does suffer from a bad script and amateur direction, it did seem to avoid certain cliches only to stumble into others but I thought the effects were quite good and the performances were strong. It's fair to say I was entertained throughout. It's a wonder the film ever got made at all really, it's a shame it wasn't given the time and care it deserved but it's out there now and that's not a bad thing. Let's give it 7-8 years and I'm sure someone will be inspired to do it properly but honestly, this isn't as bad as all that.

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2012
Excellent movie I can only hope it was all factual, and not points added to justifie race. Movie worth 5 stars
Christian C

Super Reviewer

October 19, 2012
The movie has a made-for-TV feel to it and unremarkable characters. Nevertheless, it's an interesting history lesson.
Everett J

Super Reviewer

June 6, 2012
"Red Tails" is a movie of all flash and little substance. The story is honestly another run of the mill blacks overcoming adversity type story. Which is fine, but it usually works better in sports movies(dunno why but it does). Honestly, it could worked great here and probably been very inspirational. However, the filmmakers decided to concentrate more on the visual effects of the dogfights as opposed to the execution of the story surrounding the action. On that note, the dogfights are amazing, and should have been in 3D. The movie was shot with special HD type cameras(or so I've read) and it gives it a very distinctive look. The acting is sub par. Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. both do good(not great) work in their smaller roles. The remaining cast,of mostly unknowns, is just standard and probably could have been cast better. Interested in the Tuskegee Airman's story, then you should probably check out the 90's HBO movie starring Laurence Fishburne. But it you want to watch amazing dogfight action, and don't need a great story, then this is for you.
Albert K

Super Reviewer

May 26, 2012

Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemely cheesy; Cringe-worthy dialogue, horrible acting (Cuba Gooding Jr. is never believable), and directing and editing that brings nostalgic reminders of Disney channel movies makes this minorities-exceeding-expectations flick a bore. The only redeeming quality that "Red Tails" represents is the good-hearted story, but the execution is too tainted for it to be considered a film worth watching.

Super Reviewer

November 9, 2011
Courage has no color

Not great or bad. The movie is full of cliché stereotype characters, bad dialogue and bad acting. The melodrama is heavy and painful at times. It does have decent air battle scenes though and visual FX. Lucas definitely left his stamp on the material. Entertaining at times but the Tuskegee Airmen deserve a much better film adaptation! My interest was kept throughout the film despite my sore disappointment that the main stars Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terrence Howard were relegated to auxiliary roles. Watch at own risk.

Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky - even as they battle discrimination on the ground. It's a tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.

Super Reviewer

October 23, 2011
I had been looking forward to seeing Red Tails for quite some time. I am a diehard World War II buff, and love a good war flick. Red Tails is a decent film, that's very flawed, but quite enjoyable if you can past the dialogue, so-so CGI and clichés. The film is worth seeing and I do recommend it as an introduction to this legendary Squadron of African-American Tuskegee Airmen. The film is designed to ignore facts and is meant to be a mindless war film, which it does very well. The way George Lucas talked about the project, it seemed almost as Red Tails was the most important film since he directed Star Wars in 1977 you'd think that he would have put a bit more effort into it, right? Red Tails is a decent film at best. I enjoyed it, but I felt that something was missing from to really make it a worthwhile film. For what it's worth, Red Tails deliver on action, but the story suffers and with the CGI, it really leaves you wanting more out of this film. There was so much potential in making this film, instead the filmmakers went the other direction and told a fictionalized account of the Tuskegee Airmen. I liked the film, thought it was a mindless decent time. However the film could have been improved upon majorly as well. Like tell the real story, not the fictional story. The cast were never anything good or great, but the performance that stood out was Terrence Howard. He made this movie better. If you want a small taste of the Red Tails, check this film out. Thankfully, Red Tails isn't the worst war film ever made, that dishonor belongs to the Paul Gross film Passchendaele, which to this day is an abomination. Red Tails is a decent flick, never anything great, and you realize that it had the potential in being something a lot better as well. Red Tails is an entertaining mindless war flick that opts to provide the viewer with a fictionalized account of the Tuskegee Airmen instead of providing the facts.

Super Reviewer

July 29, 2011
There was a time when I associated LucasArts with the most pristine and spellbinding of cinematic magic. Three less-than-stellar prequels later, however, the name just doesn't glow anymore with the same awe-inspiring intensity. Unfortunately, "Red Tails" is no exception to that fact. For as much as the trailers encouraged me to see it, the reality of the full experience isn't quite as stimulating.

To be fair though, it's a solid enough WWII piece. The story per se, about a crew of African-American pilots, who are pitted against the Axis powers and racial bigotry alike, is one that still holds meaning in our ever-going social struggles. We may have come a long way since the 1940's, but prejudice remains nonetheless a very relevant issue.

Where things go a bit amiss is in the execution and writing. Not that it's downright bad, but it lacks a sense of authenticity and fails to propel itself beyond genericness. Decent acting overall, but often corny, wooden and short of memorable. This is especially true for the lame love story between one of the American pilots and a small town Italian girl. It was like watching Anakin and Padmé all over again.

There is one area, however, where it accumulates some shiny badges and that is, as you may have guessed, in the special effects department. Industrial Light and Magic have done a heck of a job, creating visually rousing air battles that are among the best and most bewildering I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Not unlike the Star Wars prequels, it's all very eye-popping, but also come with the same misfires, as in being largely devoid of substance.

As I was mainly in for the action, I can't say I was disappointed though. I suppose it all depends on what you're looking for. If amazing visuals is sufficient, it'll definitely still your cravings. But if you want something with a little more heart behind it, I suggest you watch a movie like "Glory" instead, which builds on a similar true story, but includes better-handled emotional gravitas.

For when all is said and done, "Red Tails" is undeniably a superficial affair. Entertaining and worth a rent, but just be sure you know in advance what you're getting yourself into. Because apart from the cutting-edge aerial battles, there's probably nothing in here that you haven't seen or encountered before.
Phil H

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2012
Based on the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII albeit somewhat loosely, but still a pretty good close depiction of what life was like for African American airmen in service over Italy.

You can tell this is a Lucas production you really can, the dialog is terrible and the cgi effects are very reminiscent of 'Star Wars' effects, heck I even noticed the same audio used for explosions and engines I think, I'm not saying the film is bad but merely a clear Lucasfilm production (we know Lucas used WWI/II dogfighting as inspiration for his space battles...and it shows here). It has the look of an old 50's boys own adventure style comicbook or an old TV adventure serial, like the inspirations behind 'Indy', but on the other hand it also bares similarity to a videogame adaptation of old arcade Capcom classic '1942'.

The visuals are of course crisp, clean, sharp, rich and colourful....in short it looks a treat, a comicbook come to life. The problems are the whole thing feels like a TV movie or one of those old TV adventure serials with all episodes stuck together to make a film. The acting is pretty wooden really, the cast are mainly unknowns to me apart from Gooding but it is all pretty hokey to be honest.

Best thing about the film is obviously the action sequences focusing on lots of dogfighting (again kinda seems similar to 'Star Wars', even using the same quick fire dialog here and there! 'I can't see him!' 'I'm on your tail' etc...). The rest of the film is really a bit dull but the dogfighting is brilliant fun to watch.

The characters are terribly cliched and boring which in turn means you know what's gonna happen a mile off. Again...visually I can't fault it, looks terrific but the plot is your totally unoriginal underdog routine with characters we've all seen before. Good intentions for a lively historical epic but it falls short, a shame, but its still a fun action film. The finale with the playing of the American 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is also a tiny bit too much for me.

Super Reviewer

January 22, 2012
George Lucas is the kind of guy who would have an issue getting a movie made. Lucas has been trying to get a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the 1980s, but he says no studio would bite, concerned that American audiences would not be interested in a movie with an all-black cast. So Lucas just paid for the movie himself, forking over $50 million of his own money a.k.a. July's paycheck from Star Wars toys, a.k.a. what Lucas just had in his pockets at the time. Even though only credited as an executive producer, it's hard not to feel the Lucas imprint all over Red Tails. The emphasis is on the high-flying aerial combat, ladled heavily with CGI special effects work, rather than on a credible story and characters that we care about. Simply out, the Tuskegee Airmen deserve a better movie than this.

In 1944, the Tuskegee Airmen have been kept on the ground for most of the war. However, the bomber pilots need more protection. It seems that white pilots meant to provide protection of the bombers will easily get distracted, chasing after German fighter planes for a taste of glory. Colonel Bullard (Terrence Howard) and Major Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) have been notified that their unit of black pilots will finally get their shot. Marty "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker) leads the squad, followed by Joe "Lightening" Little (David Oyelowo) and Ray "Junior" Gannon (Tristan Wilds). They are to escort the bombers and stick to the bombers; the mission is paramount. The Tuskegee Airmen keep to their creed, ensuring the bombers carry out their missions, and proving themselves every bit as courageous as capable as white servicemen.

It's like somebody transplanted a 1950s war film to present day but left every single hoary cliché imaginable. Just because African-American actors get to play the clichés doesn't mean we've made progress. The Tuskegee Airmen are a historical account with enough real-life intrigue; Lucas and company didn't need to create a fictional tale to illustrate their heroic deeds. The characters are all resoundingly one-note; the troubled leader with a drinking problem, the hotshot who doesn't follow orders, the wisecracking pilot with a firm religious belief in "black Jesus," the young guy trying to prove himself, and the guy who gets married and just wants to get back to his girl (guess what happens to him?). Let's stop and analyze that plot point. Lightening first discovers his Italian beauty (NCIS: LA's Daniela Ruah) waving while he's zooming by in an airplane. Naturally he can find her home. After a series of strolls, Lightening asks her to be his wife, and eventually she accepts after some deliberation. Neither of them seems to find this interracial marriage concept a big deal, but in the 1940s, when the Army was still segregated and miscegenation was still illegal in certain states until 1967, you better believe it would be a big deal. Italy was no prejudice-free haven of tolerance, especially under Mussolini's rule. And by the way, the portrayal of Italy in this movie looks like the war hasn't even touched the land, physically and mentally. All those happy Italians just walking around smiling. And then there's the white officers club where one of the black pilots visits and punches a guy after he calls him the N-word. In reality, this guy would have been beaten to an inch of his life. It's even more bizarre then that, just after a month of flying missions, this say officer's club greets the black pilots with open arms, fighting to by the guys rounds of drinks. Red Tails, at times, seems to exist in a different universe.

This has got to be the most boring part of a story you could tell about the Tuskegee Airmen. We watch the pilots escort the bombers and stick with the mission. While an interesting historical footnote, that's about it. The story before the missions and after the missions is infinitely more interesting. I'd much rather see these brave heroes have to go back to a bitterly racist country, be declared honored men of valor by the government and then told they don't deserve equal rights in the same breath. There's so much more inherent drama in the conflict of going home to a segregationist country. Likewise, the Army was only integrated late into the war, meaning that African-American soldiers could not enter combat until 1944. Surely the journey these men took to enter the armed services is more compelling, and their experiences must have been even harder, battling the prejudices of their fellow brothers in arms. The early scenes in the film where Col. Bullard is fighting for respect and to get his men an actual mission, butting heads with brass who feel African-American soldiers are inferior, is far more gripping than anything that goes on in the air. The actual war part of this story is the least interesting part. If Lucas and company were so hell-bent on framing their story this way, they should have taken a cue from 1990's Memphis Belle and stuck to a single mission being the majority of the plot. That would have kept the realism of the situation, ratcheted up suspense, and been a more natural way to get to know our characters.

While only thoroughly mediocre, Red Tails can have some pretty awful moments. The white bomber pilots provide, for lack of a better phrase, color commentary on the plot. Their dialogue is so on-the-nose and transparent, meant to lead an audience into some stilted realization that African-Americans are, gosh, not that different. The dialogue starts off with stuff like, "What? A colored man?! We're done for," then goes to, "Hey, these boys might actually be okay," and then the movie might as well end on, "Wow, my altogether uninformed prejudices have been completely upended. I'm sorry I ever relied on such outdated notions of race that were completely ignorant. My paradigm has shifted and I'm going to look at people not as black or white anymore, but as people." It's so annoying and artificial. The dialogue is mostly cornball but the line that takes the cornball cake is after Lightening attacks a German munitions train, he shouts, "How you like that, Mr. Hitler?!" Really? "Mr. Hitler?" You'd think two African-American screenwriters (John Ridley and Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder) would have eschewed any phrases that could be racially loaded. Speaking of Germans, the movie has one German ace that keep reappearing again and again. Just so we understand that all those cockpit shots of ONE GERMAN are the same guy, the movie gives him a hideous scar along the side of his face. Being a scary scarred German fighter isn't enough to convince us this man is a villain, so the movie also has him spout some pretty ludicrous racist dialogue, even for someone who may have believed wholeheartedly in the principles of an Aryan race. "Die you foolish, African," he shouts at one point. Maybe he's still steamed over that whole Jesse Owens thing.

But the dumbest moment in a movie that will tax a minimal amount of brain cells is what happens to Junior after his plane goes down. He's caught behind enemy lines and is thrown into a prisoner of war camp. But what luck, because it just so happens that these prisoners are planning an escape that very night ("At least they won't see you at night," one of the guys tells Junior). They've dug a tunnel beneath their barracks and Junior agrees to go first to be the lookout. He climbs out of the exit hole right in front of a forest clearing. When the next one in line pops out, however, a German guard has spotted them and turned his weapon on the American. Junior hops from behind a tree, waves his arms wildly to distract, and then runs off into the woods. Inexplicably, this is where the storyline concludes. You're telling me that a German soldier with a gun isn't going to give chase into the woods? These guys have the upper hand, plenty of armed men and dogs to track escaped prisoners. The rest of the American prisoners make it out to alive miraculously and one of the guys gives Junior's dog tags to his unit. How did these prisoners, all escaping after the jig was up, get past everyone? And yet Junior does indeed live too and shows up just in time, in literally the last thirty seconds of the movie, to cut short everyone feeling sad about fallen soldiers. It's like an angel just dropped him out of the sky. Junior's escape and perilous journey back to American forces seems like a pretty good story worth telling. It has to be fraught with danger and thrills, but to just hastily end his storyline and magically zap him back to base isn't just criminally lazy, it's insulting.

Red Tails The saving grace of Red Tails is its coterie of talented actors, doing the best they can with the wobbly material. This is a movie designed for the most mainstream of audiences, not for anybody who knows a whiff of history. The characters are one-note, the story is driven by every cliché imaginable, and the reality of the time period feels oddly glossed over at too many points, settling for safe rah-rah movie heroics. The aerial combat sequences can be exciting but they come across as weightless, with all the emotional investment of watching a video game. Credit Lucas giving this movie a decent-sized budget to pull off the special effects and involved combat sequences, but that money would have been better spent on a good script, not one just dusted off from the World War II era and the race of the characters altered. I find this kind of pandering mush to be insulting, especially the fact that the audience is supposed to feel grateful that black soldiers are finally getting the spotlight no matter the quality of film. The choice of "pandering mush" or nothing is a false choice. If giving black characters the chance to run through all the tired, hoary war clichés that went out of style decades ago is progress, then I shed a tear for this country.

Nate's Grade: C

Super Reviewer

January 20, 2012
It may have a few intense scenes, the final fight may be awesome, but the one-dimensional characters, the overly simple plot, and the cheesy visuals, overshadow what "Red Tails" could have been. So we enter the film with a huge fight, followed by a series of random conversations from the flyers, involving stupid puns and cocky remarks about flying. We are then tossed into a fight in which they need to prove themselves worthy. As they protect an escaping 'white' team, they are honoured, and brought back into the final fight. Now, just about everything you would expect to happen, happens. One of the men fall in love, something goes wrong with the youngsters plane, and many other things that will spiral out of control, bringing the cliche meter to an entirely new level. I am not saying that I hate this film, but the potential was definitely overlooked. The one thing I loved, was being able to see Cuba Gooding Jr. back on the big screen as the leader of the red tails. Overall, I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters, or what happened to them for that matter, the visuals are garbage, and we are just thrown into a heap of eye candy. This film is an exact representation of average! When it's fun, it's fun, and when it's dramatic, you will get into it, but when it's bad, it's really bad. Possibly a rental, but I strongly recommend saving your money on this one.

Super Reviewer

June 14, 2013
Having been trained to fly fighter planes for the Army Air Corps, the all black 332nd Fighter Group out of Tuskegee is tragically left with little of consequence to do except to shoot down trucks and trains, which Joe 'Lightning' Little(David Oyelowo) does in style before making time with Sofia(Daniela Rush), a local woman. All of which happens under the watchful eye of his squadron commander, Marty 'Easy' Julian(Nate Parker). In fact, they are almost put out of business but Colonel Mortamus(Bryan Cranston) overplays his hand, giving an opening for Colonel Bullard(Terrence Howard) to show that the Tuskegee Airman can prove themselves in a meaningful situation.

When it takes to the skies, "Red Tails" is an entertaining movie with a handful of exemplary scenes. At the same time, the movie is more often than not corny and hokey. Sadly, this is in the service of telling an important history(the movie assumes the viewer already knows who the Tuskegee Airmen were while reminding us that racism was worse in the past in its opening statement) which frankly deserved better. Now, whether that is intentionally done to mimic a 40's war movie(with 95% less stereotypes) or this is the way the filmmakers imagine people of the time actually spoke is beyond me.(Executive producer George Lucas is a nostalgist, along with an occasional monarchist, so maybe that has something to do with it.) Regardless, the movie does look great, even if it does not always pass muster on a technical level. And as somebody who grew up on "M*A*S*H," I don't see what the big deal is with Easy's drinking.
Dann M

Super Reviewer

October 11, 2012
Lucas Films turns out another formulaic and disappointing feature with the World War II epic Red Tails. There's a complete lack of originality to the story, and it doesn't offer any new perspectives on the Tuskegee airmen. The characters are one-dimensional stereotypes and the dialog is atrocious (which is exacerbated by a ton of bad ADR). Additionally, there's no grit or sense of danger to the aerial battle sequences. Red Tails is a monotonous, cliched film that's completely uninspired.
Bradley W

Super Reviewer

May 28, 2012
Red Tails is a film with very good intentions and is well made, but suffers from such bad dialogue, boring actors, and clichés that make it all just feel a bit small compared to other war films. The film's best thing it has going for it is the plane warfare, which I found very fun and keeps the audience intrigued. But sadly the planes are more interesting than the characters. These men don't seem to be too distraught over the racism, so we don't really feel much sympathy for them. I mean there is one scene where a white man calls one of the black men the N-word, and the black guy punches him, but that is about all they do to stand up for themselves. The rest of the film is all of them complaining and having self-pity about the war or their personal lives. This war film gets so caught up in the usual inspirational clichés, that it loses touch with trying to just be a good film overall.

The story follows a group of black pilots in World War II. They wish to see some real action but due to racism they are never given the chance. While dealing with prejudice, they must also learn to deal with their own personal lives and friendships so that they can help in the war. But when they are given the chance to fight, will they be up for it?

The plot of the film is trying to be a mix of Saving Private Ryan and American History X, just a war movie that is dealing with racism. Like I said before, the characters are dull and not at all memorable. As for the actual story, they never really do anything revolutionary with it, in fact the entire story stays the same for 2 hours until about the last 10 minutes where we are finally given that supposed emotional and happy ending. Yes it was a good ending, but it wouldn't be an inspiring movie if it wasn't a good one. This is based on a true story, so it's always cool to see war movies based on true stories. But what ruined it was all the terrible dialogue that made this feels more like a film written by Alex Kendrick. If you are hoping for a revolutionary war film, you better leave your hopes here.

The cast is led by Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. who are superb actors most of the time, but here the entire cast tries to be so melodramatic that it ends up making their acting laughable. It may have not been their fault's, for all I know director Anthony Hemingway made act so dramatic because he felt it would make the audience feel more, but I laughed more at their acting then felt sorry for them. Anyone who felt this acting was good must have much lower standards in a war film than I do. The reason I do not mention any actors is because you will never remember anyone, and if you do than you must have an incredible memory. Overall this cast does nothing special to separate it from other war films.

Red Tails is a film you should still watch, mainly because the plane warfare scenes are great and save the film from being a disaster. I will give credit to Anthony Hemingway for that, he did do well with the special effects and action. But a war film must have more than that, it must have depth and true characters that we can truly relate too, not men who keep whining about not being treated fairly because the world is racist; they need to get up and do something about it. The film was trying too hard to be something it's not, and what it ends up being is just that movie you saw once and you will forget it in about a week. If they had made the characters feel more like people instead of using horrible dialogue to make them feel like an episode of The Bachelor, than possibly I could've liked this film, but I ended up not being a fan. If you enjoy war movies than check this out, but I wouldn't get your hopes up because you may be disappointed in what you get.
Sean N.
Sean N.

Super Reviewer

January 22, 2012
Red Tails is a film more than 20 years in the making. After being repeatedly denied by studios who weren't willing to finance a movie with a near all African-American cast, George Lucas has finally brought the story of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen. This is the first film from Lucasfilm Ltd. in nearly 2 decades to not be associated with Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Considering how some of the recent films in those series have turned out, the primary thing I hoped for going into this movie was that it wouldn't fall victim to the same mistakes made by the Star Wars prequels. Thankfully that wasn't entirely the case, and while it isn't a masterpiece, Red Tails is a well-made film that has deep respect for the Airmen, resulting in an entertaining film that, if anything else, is better than the prequels.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots during WWII. Despite the prejudice against them, Colonel A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) works to convince his superiors that the pilots in the Tuskegee training program are up to the challenge. Sure enough, they get their chance when they are given the task of defending bombers, with their superiors hoping that they will not make the same mistakes that past fighters have committed whose focus was more on enemies than protecting the bombers. Led by Bullard and Major Emmanuel Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) the men of the 332nd Fighter Group, including Martin 'Easy' Julian (Nate Parker) and Joe 'Lightning' Little (David Oyelowo), work to prove themselves against all odds.

Now even though past Lucasfilm productions were burdened by some bad writing and hokey dialogue, Red Tails really doesn't fall to that same level. Sure, there is one character who only spoke cliched lines (which I'll get to in a minute) but aside from that, I don't think the dialogue was really that bad (and yes, there is some obvious Hollywood influence for some of it (like the 'WE FIGHT! WE FIGHT! WE FIGHT!' chant for example) but it didn't really hurt the movie). While they didn't exactly tell the full story of the Tuskegee Airmen (primarily the struggle they went through just to even join the army), the film truly does show respect and honor for these men.

The actors that played these men also did a great job too and worked well together. Although some characters were more developed than others, the writers did a good job at distinguishing each of the airmen enough so that we can tell which is which,. The standouts of this cast are probably Parker and Oyelowo. Parker is the leader of the group dealing with a drinking problem while Oyelowo is the daredevil of the group. The rest of the cast is good too, though I question why they had Ne-Yo ('Smoky') basically talk like Boomhauer from King of the Hill but that's just me. As for Howard and Gooding Jr, they do their jobs well but Gooding Jr.'s role was rather limited. The same could be said for Howard, but his character was more developed. Of course, we can't talk about this film without talking about the biggest part of it; the aerial fights and they are really entertaining. The visuals are top notch which is something that Lucasfilm's company ILM is known for.

Now as I said before, even if the dialogue in this film was ultimately cheesy and cliched, I honestly didn't feel it when it came to the dialogue between the airmen. But don't get me wrong, there was some really hokey dialogue in this movie, mostly coming from this one German who I'm guessing is the main 'villain', though it kind of doesn't make sense because aren't the WWII German soldiers in general supposed to be the villains? Anyway, this guy really just spoke in cliches saying lines like 'They're only rookies. This'll be easy' and 'Die, you stupid African!'. I'm not saying it's unnatural, but it just didn't feel right.

So in the end, Red Tails might not be that great of a film but for a January release, it is better than most of the films that come out around this time. This is a film that really could've been something great had it been written better, like fixing up the villain's dialogue for example. It also really didn't delve that much into the adversity that these men went through in order to become as famous as they are today. But even though that is the case, the cast still did a good job and the film ultimately does have great respect for the Airmen. Red Tails is kind of like Star Wars because of the doubt that studios had in this film being a hit. I salute George Lucas for, if anything else, getting this film made. It's not exactly as good as the original Star Wars films but it's an improvement over the prequels.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

January 12, 2013
Yeah, but it's not too hard to see co-writer John Ridley's experience in the comic book industry, as this film gets to be so cartoonish that you'd think that it's more like "An American Tail". Actually, strike that, this film is more like "TaleSpin", or rather, "Red TailSpin" if it's like any cartoon, not just because it's about planes, but because this film probably shouldn't be mistaken for a Steven Spielberg effort, no matter how much George Lucas has been wishing that someone would praise him like they praise Spielberg ever since "Indiana Jones", or how, well, cheesy Spielberg's last war film was. Okay, thinking about it, maybe this film isn't too much more cheesy than "War Horse", but Spielberg has a generally good track record when it comes to being taken seriously, whereas this film is yet another testament to how George Lucas just cannot catch a break, or at least not when it comes to ethnicities. Now, I'm not saying that George Lucas is kind of discomfortingly unsubtle with his attmepts as appealing towards blacks, though he did get one of the cartoonists for "The Boondocks" to co-write this film's script, but hey, at least Lucas' gunning a touch too blatantly for popular blacks showed us that Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s career is not yet ready for its death rattle. That being said, Gooding's career has to at least be circling the drain at this point, because you know you're in trouble if your presence in a theatrical feature film only reminds certain critics of how much the theatrical feature in question is not up to par with a TV film, which, in all fairness was produced by HBO. Seriously though, it's neat to see good ol' Gooding escape from the prison that is the straight-to-video film sub-industry, and back into the Tuskegee Airmen for the first time since, well, "The Tuskegee Airmen" no less, or at least it would be if this film wasn't so lame. Seriously, George, I want to defend you and all, but then you come out with this, a disaster, though not exactly for lack of trying, because as messy as this film is, at least it goes down in style.

This film isn't exactly visually stunning, yet it doesn't entirely deserve the good looks that it very much has, thanks to the lovely photographic efforts of Terence Blanchard, who delivers on lighting and coloring that is often somewhat average, yet perhaps just as often rich with a handsome kind of animated bounce to color, accentuated by crisp definition, thus making the film engaging to, at the very least, the eyes, though perhaps not quite with as much flare as plenty of technical aspects, or at least up to a point. I honestly went into this film expecting some pretty sharp editing, and while I got just that here and there, much of Michael O'Halloran's and Ben Burtt's editing is workmanlike, with moments in which it surprisingly slips into laziness whether when it's cheaping out with something like very George Lucas-esque wipe transitions, or simply leaving certain clips to awkwardly linger, but in most every other technical department, this film accels about as much you would expect a George Lucas production to accel technically, with Ben Burtt delivering on excellent sound design, and Michael Carlin and Nick Palmer turning in production designs that are surprisingly a touch minimalist, and therefore made underwhelming at times by natural shortcomings, but generally handsomely intricate and convincing. Just as intricate and convincing as the production designs, yet more relatively upstanding, are, of course, the visual effects, which stand to be more dynamic in concept, yet dazzle consistently in their comfortably bonding with this world's environment. Now, people, this film isn't "Star Wars", so don't go in expecting to see a sea of testaments to the glory of digital effects, but do expect to see plenty of sharp visual effects, especially when those effects bring to life some pretty impressive action sequences. Like the visual effects, this film's dogfight sequences stand to be a bit more dynamic, but when it's all said and done, every action set piece delivers, with sweeping staging and thrilling flare, powered by aforementioned technical excellence, that give the final product more livliness than it deserves. For every glaring misstep with resonance, this film turns in a strong stylistic or technical touch, through which you can catch hints of what this film could have been and would have been were the storytelling behind worthy technicality commendable. As things stand, however, this film's storytelling abilities and, by extension, the film itself don't even make it to passable, much less commendable, because as undeniably sharp as this film is technically, the final product proves to be a testament to how consistently upstanding technicality can only do so much to battle back incompetence in most every other department, even when those departments are built around a worthy story concept, which, even then, is hardly without shortcomings.

Fictionalized or not, this piece of history is fascinating and dripping with potential that ultimately goes undercut, not just by the incompetence behind the execution of this film's story concept, but by the story concept's being generic, not so much so that you can't still recognize how much potential there is to squander, though certainly to where it's just as easy to recognize this subject matter's familiarity, which is made even more glaring by genericism in many of the final product's other aspects, including, of all things, score work, as Terence Blanchard turns in a score that not only gets to be overstylized, to the point of sometimes being neither organic with the film's atmosphere and setting, or above emotionally distant mediocrity, but feels just so blandly trite, cheesing things up, though not nearly as much as the dialogue. There is the ever so occasional commendable dialogue piece within John Ridley's and Aaron McGruder's mess of a script, yet on the whole, this film's dialogue is simply blandly average, when not awkwardly wooden, cliched, cheesy and all around near-laughable, especially when executed by more than a few performances that do anything but compensate for, well, anything, much less the weakly-concieved and poorly-delivered dialogue. I've heard quite a few complaints about how some of the acting in this film, particularly that of certain tertiary performers, fall flat, but honestly, I don't think that this film has recieved enough credit for being pretty badly-acted, as plenty of people in this film, whether they be directed poorly or just incompetent, mess up time and again, with even Terrence Howard dulling things up considerably with a one-note and boringly unconvincing performance - powered by lifeless expressiveness, stilted dialogue delivery and an unexpectedly striking lack of charisma - that is still hardly this film's worst, for although there are a couple of performances that prove to be decent, especially during an unexpectedly moving major death scene towards the end, most actors in this film, whether it be for a moment or consistently, awkwardly fall flat in his own distinct fashion, so that you can get a real firm grip on the hefty quantity of weak acting in this hefty cast. Certain key performances are reasonably likable, but much too underwritten to come close to making up for the many performances whose incompetence is near-startlingly undeniable, thus the engagement value of this character study's characters goes diluted, if it was ever really there in the first place, going tainted from the get-go by a considerable lack of development that, in the long run, wouldn't have really counted for too much, seeing as how most every character in this film is written with few layers, but a wealth of - you guessed it - genericism. The character aspects that drive this character study are just so trite and thin, collapsing into flatness that does serious damage to this film's plot, whose execution hardly ends there, as story structuring proves to be uneven, with many an area of bumbling hurrying, broken up by many an area that goes boringly bloated by nothing but bland excess material, if not all-out repetition that leaves plotting to meander aimlessly for two barely paced hour. On paper, this film is all but beyond repair, boasting a shoddy script that could have, in fact, been compensated for with intense directorial effort, something that you better believe isn't going on in this film, as Anthony Hemingway delivers a debut feature film directorial performance that falls flat as so bland and distanced that it disengages, though not so intensely that you don't stick with the film just enough to further find a grip on flaws, which, by this point, slow the final product's momentum down to a halt that is hardly screeching, only be this film hardly had any momentum to begin with. Nothing short of a textbook cinematic disaster, this film, upon its announcement, initially struck me with expectations of goodness, and as details and a weak reception built, I went into the final product expecting something underwhelming, yet decent, or, at the very worst, mediocre, but what I ended up facing was a two-hour chore, rich with technical sharpness, but even richer with storytelling shoddiness that, from the very beginning, is relentless in its distancing resonance with so much unexpected incompetence that you'd be hard pressed to make it long before losing investment, hope and all around patience, thus making for a final product that is barely bearable garbage that squanders potential near-bafflingly and, without lively areas, spawned primarily from technical proficiency, would have been unpalatable.

In conclusion, the film is visually handsome with strong technical value - particularly when it comes to visual effects - that backs up plenty of thrilling action sequences that give you a taste of livliness that this film hasn't earned the right to boast, being cheaply generic, with trite score work and cornball dialogue, often delivered poorly by many an unmissably bad performance that dilutes character engagement value, almost as much as thin character development and structuring, a component to the meanderingly uneven plotting that, when called more to attention by Anthony Hemingway's distanced direction, goes into making "Red Tails" a challenge of a two-hour disaster that wastes potential and tests patients, until the viewer is left exhausted by incompetence.

1.5/5 - Bad
Fascade F

Super Reviewer

July 30, 2012
Totally a well done job told of the Tuskegee Airmen. Their triumphs and failures were well documented and told in one truly unforgettable story. Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters. "Red Tails" will forever be a must see.
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