[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8797[/img]Title: Red Tails
Starring: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Lee Tergesen, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Gerald McRaney
Directed by: Anthony Hemingway
Written by: John Rudley, Aaron McGruder, John B. Holway (Book)
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Lucasfilm
Runtime: 125 min
Blu-ray Release Date: May 22, 2012
HTS Overall Score: 72
1944, war torn Europe. An American bomber squadron is being escorted to their target(s) by the Army Air Corp when German planes come to crash the party. Trained to go for every kill possible, the American pilots leave the formation looking to shoot down the enemy. This renders the bombers vulnerable to enemy fire and prone to being shot down. The air battle doesn’t bid well for the Americans as the bombers are picked off one by one resulting in many casualties and an incomplete mission.
Segue to the calm sky overhead Italy where the Tuskegee Airmen are flying a routine patrol as per their
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8793[/img]usual assignment; missions far from the front. Red Tails brings to light the fight against racism on the ground the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in U.S. military history, had to endure when the armed forces were segregated, and their battles with German pilots in the air. Tuskegee refers to the Great Tuskegee Experiment, a program that allowed African-Americans to be trained and fly in the U.S. military. In basecamp the men question their commanding officer Major Emmanuelle Stance (Gooding Jr.) as to the relevance of the missions they fly. This uneasiness and uncertainty is compounded by a circulating leaked press report indicating the use of African-Americans in the Army Air Corp may be halted due to their unsatisfactory performance. Stateside at the Pentagon Stance’s commanding officer, Colonel A.J. Bullard (Howard) is trying to convince his superiors, including Colonel William Mortamus (Cranston) to give the Tuskegee Airmen important worthwhile missions. With the help of Colonel Jack Tomilson (Tergesen) the men are finally given their shot. Tomilson tells Bullard who relays to Stance that the men will ready for Operation Shingle; providing air cover for a beach landing. Tomilson stresses how imperative it is that the men put something on the board, otherwise the brass will shut them down. Once Stance tells his men they’ll be going into action they are understandably excited and want to prove themselves, but once the life threatening air combat actually starts there is a noticeable lack of a sense of imminent danger amongst the men. The dogfighting and atmosphere just isn’t tense enough considering the men are flying into hostile airspace where there are no warning shots or verbal warnings given prior to engagement.
Operation Shingle is a complete success (not really a spoiler, you had to expect that, how else would the story continue?) with the men shooting down eight enemy planes and destroying 63 on the ground in enemy territory all without a single casualty on their side. The news hits Washington brass (there’s more brass in this movie than a championed high school band – Ba Dum Bum CHING!) quickly and soon Bullard is meeting with Lieutenant General Luntz (McRaney) to discuss another mission; escorting bombers to their targets. Bullard accepts the mission provided his men are given new fighters; done and done.
Back at base in Italy the men study air footage of American bombers being shot down while under the protection of the Army Air Corp after which Bullard addresses the men and announces in a strict and decisive tone that their strategy will be different; “At all costs, under every circumstance, you will protect the heavies”. This strategy is a bit confusing. Is Bullard ordering the men to put themselves in the line of fire to protect the bombers? Can they leave the formation if an opportune chance arises to shoot down an enemy, how much leeway is there? The details are really hazy considering the importance of the mission.
Once the new P-51s are ferried in the men test fly them, the tails are painted red and following a briefing and a huddle with an inspirational chant, the men hit the skies for undoubtedly an unforgettable mission.
The characters in Red Tails are all very likeable men, unfortunately the result is little depth in
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8794[/img]their personas and absolutely no edginess in the way they act, this makes them predictable and boring to watch. The dialogue is very safe, simple and pretty hokey, making it appropriate for families, but older viewers will notice how this translates into a lack of realism and unfitting nostalgia. “They closing in mighty fast”, an observation one of the airmen makes is said in a comical and stereotypical tone; it’s one of many examples of the poorly written one-liners. The wooden and amateurish sounding deliveries are startling at times. Dialogue between the men during laidback moments of reminiscing doesn’t feel authentic, lacking a coarse vibe you would expect in young men full of testosterone. This is evident more so during air battles when adrenaline should naturally be causing the men to do away with the PG-13 dialogue and talk realistically.
There’s little character development, especially pertaining to the manner in which the men deal with racism, discrimination and personal problems (relationships, alcohol) and how they cope.
The air battles are very entertaining and something to look forward to, but occasionally they are presented
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8799[/img]in a Saturday morning cartoonish manner; repeated back and forth shots of the men in their respective plane’s cockpits followed by intermittent overhead shots of the action. It’s all really great to look at, but this constant strategy degrades the level of seriousness of the situation.
PG-13 for some sequences of war violence.
Red Tails has a noticeable soft noiseless façade. Colors are always vivid with blacks never being
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8798[/img]overbearing, but proving good contrast when required. Mixtures of red and orange produce beautiful looking flames and air and ground explosions. Aircraft look detailed, shiny and realistic in the air, but sometimes have an obvious appearance of a highly polished model; it’s strange and confusing because it’s CGI that created the planes. Facial detail is high, textures in the men’s clothing and flight uniforms are evident and the environments look crisp and realistic. Dogfights are impressive with outstanding looking explosions and gunfire; truly the highlight of the Blu-ray.
Overhead flybys take advantage of directional effects, bullets penetrating the skin of the planes and
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8800[/img]canopies sound crystal clear, and the wing mounted high caliber machine guns sound powerful. Explosions in the air and on the ground are accompanied by loads of low end bass. When the pilots are readying to climb into the cockpits of their planes the high RPM of the propeller sounds like you’re in its standing proximity. Dialogue is consistently audible and clear, and simple ambient noises are well prioritized; the sound field overall is very impressive. The one disappointing aspect in the soundtrack is the score. It’s difficult to articulate how music sounds, but you know instantly when it’s not meshing with what’s happening on screen, such is numerously the case in Red Tails when the lively jazzy music overlays serious action scenes or random scenes that clearly don’t call for peppy numbers.
1. Double Victory: The Tuskegee Airmen at War
An Inspiring Documentary with Interviews and Stories from the Real Tuskegee Airmen
2. George Lucas: Executive Producer
3. Anthony Hemingway: Director
4. Terrance Blanchard: Composer
5. The Cast of Red Tails
6. Movie Magic
Red Tails is corny, old fashioned, Disneyesque, a good popcorn movie and suitable for family viewing. It falters in its unflattering stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans, sometimes undermining their intelligence; case in point hooting and hollering as they watch footage of how their comrades bombarded an enemy destroyer. Does that sort of remorseless loud patriotism actually happen?
The “true events” that inspired this story aren’t done justice by the awful to average acting, PG-13 dialogue, and serious problems that lack an expected air of tension and emotion. There’s quite a bit of filler that needlessly extends the movie’s runtime, but as it stands Red Tails is a movie you can watch and zone out through the acting bits and enjoy the immersive action sequences that are enhanced by cranking up the volume.
Watch the Official Trailer
Watch the Official Trailer