Red Tails (2012) The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen Re -Told

Maybe it’s good to watch bad movies in order to be able to appreciate the good ones more? With that premise in mind, I’d say, Red Tails is highly effective. Still I find it deplorable that it couldn’t be any better and at the same time, I don’t know why this had to be remade. The 1995 TV version The Tuskegee Airmen is really good, I liked it a great deal and although it is sentimental in places it’s not as corny as Red Tails. Geroge Lucas’ justification for this remake, according to an interview,  was CGI and that the use of it allowed him to show the dog fights like they haven’t been shown before. Maybe but…

The story of Red Tails, unlike the older version of 95, starts only when all-black fighter squadron 332 is already in Italy and waiting for an important assignment. Although highly trained and some of the best fighter pilots the US Army has, they aren’t allowed on important missions. All they do is shoot trains and small targets. The frustration is high and when they are finally given the opportunity to escort a bomber crew they are happy and do an oustanding job.

If you’ve never even heard of the true story of The Tuskegee Airmen, Squadron 332, then you will find it very interesting. Even a notorious moaner like Spike Lee approved of this production which may not be surprising as his Mircale at St. Anna has one of the corniest endings ever.

What’s my problem then? There were many.

Foreboding – It’s handled extremely heavily, no casualty or twist was not foreseeable from the beginning.

Music – This was one of the wost scores ever. Too much, all of the time and in some instances some weird techno type music which may appeal to a CGI crazy generation but is highly unrealistic in a WWII movie.

CGI – Overdone and tacky looking. I didn’t find it convincing at all.

Cast and Characters – Many of the actors did a good performance but not Cuba Gooding Jr. He dragged the movie down and was responsible for more than one unintentionally funny scene. He grimaced his way through this movie, it was painful to watch. His attempts at looking like an authority figure which he tried to achieve smoking a pipe, didn’t work at all.

Back story – There is no back story and I feel that’s really missing. the TV production took much more time and is therefore more efficient in its anti-racism message.

Emotion – As corny as it was, it wasn’t moving. I was very moved when I saw the 1995 version but this one left me cold.

Love Story – An awfully, awfully, trite and forseeable story.

Racism – I felt it only touched on the main topic of racism because, as mentioned above, the back story was cut off. The CGI and the silly love story detracted from it. Furthermore the atmosphere of the military in Italy was also shown better in the TV version.

I won’t deny that roles for African-Americans in war movies – and other movies – are sadly scare and this movie certainly offered a great opportunity. Notably many actors known from TV shows like The Wire got a chance to perform in this. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is an important story for African-Americans, something to be really proud of. Being excellent and doing your job better than anyone else despite being ridiculed and not taken seriously is no small feat. Still, I can’t help it, I would have preferred if it had been a good movie.

17 thoughts on “Red Tails (2012) The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen Re -Told

  1. the war movie buff says:

    I agree with all of your main points about Red Tails. I was not as harsh about the CGI. It was better than I expected and thus the dog fights are the best part of the film. I disagree that “Tuskegee Airmen” was a good movie. Both of these attempts to tell the story of the 332nd were misfires which is a crying shame!

    Lucas has been making an ass of himself lately. I hated those last three Star Wars and the last Indiana Jones.

    • I never watched any of George Lucas movies, or not in a very long time.
      I liked the old. Much more than this. At east it had some emotions.

    • the love story so may make note of was important and I am surprised many missed this it plainly show that the white offices (Americans ) were taken back just at having a “colored” man enter the Officers club, but the Italian People saw no big deal at a “colored” man and an Italian (white ) woman walking together, It show the difference in attitudes, Europe was always more accepting of non whites by in large (Bille holiday,and Scott jopland went there to have control over their music ,and to get better pay)

  2. Guy Savage says:

    I haven’t seen this Caroline–mainly because I sniffed its problems plus I am not a George Lucas fan.

  3. nem baj says:

    Hmm, not sure I’ll have a look after that! 🙂
    Btw Caroline, did you get my email about The Big Parade?

  4. I was pretty disappointed in Red Tails as well, especially since it had an excellent trailer. What is really frustrating is that Lucas spent his own money to make the film, and he genuinely wanted to tell the story. Unfortunately, he has lost whatever creative spark he ever had, so the movie was embarrassing. What is especially irritating is that I want to recommend that people watch it because of the subject, but I always have to add that it is a bad movie. However, I agree with warmoviebuff, I thought the air scenes were the best part of the movie, actually the only good part of the movie.

    • It’s deplorable but when I watched an inteview with him I had a feeling he was much keener on he possibilities of CGI than on the story as such. I do agree that the dog fights were the best thins but even those, yeah well, I’m just not so keen on CGI.
      Did you see the TV version? I really don’t agree with Kevin on that one, I found it much better.

  5. Watched the TV version last night. While it had its share of painful acting, the overall story was way more coherent and accurate, especially the portrayal of the racism in the United States at the time. Neither version is what the real men deserve, but Lucas’ version is much harder to sit through.

    • I’m glad we agree on that. I’m aware you liked it less than I did but it is way better as it’s a real story.
      I’m not sure you noticed it but in Lukas’ film was an emphasis on how much time for training they had. Since they never flew importntn missions they could get better while others were under heavy fire immediately. It makes it look as if they had only become good because they had no importnat missions while in the TV version we see gow much they had to overcome and that they already were good pilots.
      The TV version is very sentimental, that’s for sure but it’s not as crappy a Red Tails.

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