28 May 2012

RED TAILS (Dir. Anthony Hemingway, 2012, US)

A pet project for George Lucas.
Red Tails is a revisionist war film about black fighter pilots, the Tuskegee airmen, who fought during World War II in the allied campaign against Germany. Apparently most of the studios refused to back the film and so it was left up to George Lucas to self finance the project. Red Tails is a project which was being touted by Lucas way back in the 1980s and it seems to have taken forever to get off the ground. Although Lucas could have easily walked away from this project, he proved his point by financing and distributing the film. The film has performed adequately at the US box office but had the marketing people aimed for a summer release, it is likely the film would have made more money domestically. However, the film is being released in the UK during the summer release schedule, which makes much more sense given the film's escapist nature. Red Tails is a tribute to past World War II films in which aerial combat played a major part of the action - most of the film's narrative is dominated by well executed dog fights. Featuring an all black cast, Red Tails certainly throws a fresh perspective on the war genre by celebrating the contribution of black America to the war effort. The major problem with Red Tails is the poor script which offers some terrible dialogue, underwritten characters and a plethora of war cliques that wouldn't look out of place in a low budget TV mini series. Script is everything when it comes to making a good film but Red Tails manages to deliver largely on the basis of historical revisionism. I would also question the level of directorial involvement from Anthony Hemingway given the personal nature of the project for George Lucas. Red Tails is likely to do well on DVD but it deserves a better script and perhaps more of a marketing push for it to really find that wider audience. Overall, it's an enjoyable old school war film with some cheesy lines.


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