‘Red Tails’ makes a rough landing

January 26, 2012

RATING: 2 of 5 stars – Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox



Naomi Allison
News Editor


When I heard about “Red Tails,” a movie that focuses on the lives of the Tuskeegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots who fought during World War, I had high hopes.


In 1941, the Tuskegee Airmen broke racial barriers by contradicting an army war college study that concluded blacks were  “mentally inferior to the white man.”


In “Red Tails,” the crew’s commander, Col. Bullard (Terrence Howard) travels back to Washington to present his case for them to fly, when a false report about them is leaked.


Instead of being disbanded, the Tuskeegee airmen are allowed to prove their worth and end up altering the presence of African American men in the military.


The crew joins the 332nd Fighter Group, with its bright, crimson red-tailed airplanes this crew protects the U.S. bomber groups from German attacks and brings many soldier home safely.


Because of my passion for  history, as soon as I entered the theater, I was ready for a film similar to the HBO documentary released about the Tuskeegee Airman.


However, when I left the movie theater, I felt slightly disappointed.


Despite its stunning aerial scenes, strong historical background and Star Wars film director George Lucas, who spent 20 years producing the film, “Red Tails” failed to meet my standards.


The film is grounded by a clumsy,  awkward dialogue and a wandering plot.


Instead of focusing on the historical context of the Tuskeegee airman, Lucas and screenwriters John Ridley (“Three Kings”) and Aaron McGruder (“Boondocks”) create an action film that consists mostly of drama.


In a nutshell, the best part about the film is its actors.


Even though Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard are the best  known, the other actors who played the fighter pilots were outstanding.


Nate Parker plays Captain Marty “Easy,” while David Oyelowo plays the talented, difficult Joe “Lightning” Little.
In addition, I do have to give scenes throughout the film some credit as well.


In one of the scenes in “Red Tails,” the Tuskegee Airmen are walking past the Officers Club  in Italy when a Caucasian officer suddenly calls their name. Reluctantly, (this is during the segregation period by the way), they turn around to face what they believe will be an attack.


Instead, the officer, who is also  a bomber pilot, thanks them for bringing him and his 10-man crew back alive.
Another interesting aspect of the film is the love story between Little and an Italian girl, who he asks to marry.
It makes the audience realize the state of interracial relationships and makes them question what will happen to the couple after the war. The film answers the immediate question, but not other one.


Overall, though “Red Tails” is not the best cup of tea, soda or water that you will ever have, it will definitely make you want to read the history of the Tuskeegee Airmen.



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