“Red Tails” Review: Creative Cinematics; So-So Story

“Red Tails” features breathtaking cinematography, fails to shine in dialogue or storyline

By Liz Wilson

Picture taken from Movienewz.com

Just in time for Black History Month, George Lucas has released another adventure film for moviegoers to enjoy.  The film follows the struggles and triumphs of the Tuskegee Airmen who were the first African Americans to fly as fighter pilots during World War II. The film delves into a vein of African American history that is unfamiliar to most people and it’s a story that needed to be told.

The opening scene of the film followed the camera through the clouds and we heard a swell of boisterous music. Those of us in the audience hoped to be swept up into a world of heroic fighter pilots, action and maybe a little wartime romance. There is action, romance and some well crafted fight scenes; however, the whole experience fell a little flat.

The all-star cast included Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry McGuire), Terrance Howard (Iron Man) and Elijah Kelly (Hairspray).  I would have loved to see any one of these actors give a rousing speech or make me feel pulled into their personal narratives. But all I heard were a series of corny lines and cliché dialogues that failed to add to the story. As a film set in WWII, one would expect to see at least a little violence however this also was missing from Red Tails. I’m not one to lust for blood but when an entire unit of fighter pilots fails to lose more than 2 comrades, the story seems a little too rosy to be believable. No WWII epic has left me feeling more apathetic to the cause of the protagonists. I wanted so badly to feel sad when a character was wounded or feel a rush of triumph when the Tuskeegee men were finally granted the honor of flying a real mission. But my hopes were dashed and I was left feeling only a little more informed about the Tuskeegee airmen and a little less excited about learning that I had been in the theater for a whole two hours.

The lack of blood was unrealistic, but the fight scenes still proved to be the highlight of the film.  The film’s focus was unmistakably the air battles between the Airmen and the German pilots. Each camera shot took me up and down and around and made me feel like I was in the cockpit myself. The sweeping coastline of Italy served as a gorgeous backdrop for the fighter pilots to maneuver around the high tech German jets. One thing I can praise is the amazing cinematography. A beautiful aesthetic held my attention like none of the dialogue could. The wild blue yonder was the star of this film and each actor played only a supporting role.

Despite director Anthony Hemingway’s attempt to put a positive spin on a story that deserves to be told, the story fails to bring the emotional attachment these historical figures deserve. The story of the Tuskeegee Airmen is an inspirational story of a group of men who fought for more than one kind of freedom in a time when their efforts went mostly unnoticed. During the 1940’s African American’s were segregated and looked down upon by most people in the armed forces and throughout the United States. Lucas’s film gave a noble effort but overall Red Tails was a less than dazzling film. For cinematography I give it an A+. For storyline and C above average but not worthy of a gold star.



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