Movie Review: Red Tails

If, before having seen this movie, you asked me who the Tuskegee Airmen were, I’d tell you that they were this all-black group of fighter pilots who were awesome at what they did. I would then waver about whether they were in World War II or some later war. After having seen this movie, I can now tell you with absolute certainty that they were in World War II. That is the only thing the movie taught me, because movies are for entertainment, not facts. Facts are found in books, and sometimes the Internet if you look hard enough.

Does Red Tails do its job of being a movie and keeping you watching the screen instead of your secretly turned on cell phone? Yes. Is it a good movie? I would say yes to this as well. Is it a great movie, the kind that should win awards? Not at all, really. Yes, it is great that George Lucas was willing to make a movie with an almost exclusively black cast, but apparently he had once again made the mistake of having something to do with the details of the movie. It is a George Lucas movie. Not as bad as Episodes II or III, thankfully, but it’s no Episode V.

I found the dialogue to be hit and miss. Sometimes it was great, other times I nearly groaned aloud. I don’t know if some of the more groan-inducing characters were just supposed to be intensely dull and bad at everything but flying, or if the 40s was just a great time for painfully straightforward and over acted wording or what. Fortunately, it gets better as the movie progresses, but that also means that the first several minutes are kind of awful. Plug your ears until the first ground scene and you won’t be missing anything.

The characters themselves are good for the most part, though the film leaves no ambiguity as to who you are supposed to be rooting for and who you are supposed to boo. Like pretty much everything about World War II it’s not a film that you’re supposed to think about. You simply know what you are supposed to think, or you are a racist and have no idea what you are seeing this movie for. Luckily the designated heroes aren’t difficult to like. True to Lucas form, there are exactly two female characters in the entire movie; the Italian love interest to one of the fighter pilots, and her mother who shows up in one scene and never again (not to imply that the former shows up very often).

Though a war movie, there are very few deaths on the side of the protagonists, though there are plenty of explosions, because I guess fighter plane bullets explode on impact or something. I’m no munitions expert.

I know it may sound like I am harping on this movie a lot, and perhaps I am, but that is only because I expected it to be really great, instead of merely good. I don’t think anyone reading this review will regret going to see the movie. And if you like the idea of predominantly black casts in movies targeted towards non-black audiences, then you kind of have to see this movie, because going to see a movie is the only way to let producers know that you want more like it.


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