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Red Tails

Year: 2012
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Producer: George Lucas, Rick McCallum
Writer: John Ridley/Aaron McGruder
Cast: Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, David Oyelowo, Michael B Jordan, Bryan Cranston, Gerard McRaney

TRON: Legacy bought the most incredible effects and visuals to the screen but hired shit actors to read a terrible script in the process. It was a brilliant show reel and a terrible performance piece and together they combined to make a so-so movie.

When Red Tails failed so dismally, George Lucas went on the offensive to whine about how it was because the movie industry was still inherently racist. He's wrong. It failed so dismally because like TRON: Legacy, it just wasn't a very good movie. What's more, it had the exact same problems.

Lucas didn't direct it, but the style is almost indivisible from his. The scenes of aerial battle in the skies above Italy during World War II are eye-popping, thrilling and on a movie screen (I watched it on a TV) with a ground-shaking sound system they would have been every bit as jaw dropping as the Tatooine podrace on the Death Star trench battle.

The film opens on an expansive blue sky full of fighters and bombers and within minutes we're ducking and weaving along with them as they take each other on. It's beautifully art directed and shot and each craft and effect (most, if not all of them, digital) is lushly rendered.

As soon as the action stops and actors have to deliver lines, it's hackneyed, eye-rolling and oddly childish despite the subject matter not only of war but of race.

It tells the story of the Tuskegee squadron of African American combat pilots, left far away from enemy lines because of an institutional belief about blacks not having what it takes in combat.

As their Colonel (Terrence Howard) pushes the brass to let them prove themselves, the pilots go about their skilled and reckless ways, ignoring their orders to attack higher value targets than they've been given clearance for (and curiously never being sanctioned for doing so).

As history showed, the pilots under the Tuskegee program proved themselves when given a chance, and on paper Red Tails should be the perfect blend of swashbuckling thrills and worthy story – even 70 years later in the contemporary West where race is still such an issue.

I'm sure everyone involved (black and white) signed on for the chance to portray a positive representation of a time and place in history that deserves to be talked about. The swashbuckling action is almost faultless, it just needed far more subtlety and a far less simplistic approach.

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