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I'm a former US Air Force F-4 Phantom Weapons Systems Officer
You know this movie is crap when you start with a supposed fighter squadron commander who doesn't know the difference between a SQUAD (thirteen infantrymen) and a SQUADRON (48 fighter pilots).
To paraphrase General George S. Patton, George Lucas doesn't know anything more about real aerial warfare than he does about f --- ing! (And George C. Scott may have said "fornicating" in the movie PATTON, but the real Patton used the real F-word!)
Lucas was absolutely the worst person in the movie industry to do this movie. This movie is only the latest of many giant steps down the primrose path which Lucas started the world's movie-viewing public with the first STAR WARS movie in 1977; I distinctly remember the documentary on the making of that movie, in which Lucas patted himself on the back for patterning his battle scenes after what he claimed to be the most realistic dogfight scenes ever filmed, and at the same time in the documentary intercutting his scenes with those from A YANK IN THE RAF which were absolutely THE phoniest looking flying scenes ever filmed! And he hasn't bothered to learn jack about aerial warfare in the last 35 years; he's just conned most of the whole world into thinking his cartoonish creations are reality when they're the farthest thing from it.
The technical fallacies are far too numerous to list. Lucas doesn't know the first thing about physics or aerodynamics, let alone the complexities of basic fighter maneuvering required to put bullets into another airplane and to prevent another airplane from doing that to one's own. He just makes his CGI airplanes do anything he wants them to do to fit his fantasies and fiction. Lucas is welcome to create his own sci-fi universe where he makes the rules. But for an "historical" movie like this claims to be, Chuck Jones could have made cartoon Mustangs imitating the Road Runner and cartoon Messerschmitts imitating Wile E. Coyote and his Acme gadgets, and they wouldn't have been any more technically inaccurate.
But that's just about the technical fallacies and impossibilities. One of the biggest issues I have is that this movie was incapable of making the 332nd Fighter Group look good without taking cheap, lying shots at the other US Army Air Force fighter groups who fought in Europe in World War II. And it once again demonstrates George Lucas's total ignorance of aerial warfare in World War II, if not his blatant disregard for the truth.
Fighters assigned to escort bombers did not fly in and among the bomber formations, and they certainly didn't stay there when enemy fighters attacked. Escorting fighters flew above and to the sides of the bomber formations, weaving in zigzag patterns to maintain their airspeed while staying even with the much slower bombers. To "stay with the bombers" meant disengaging from the enemy fighters and returning to the flanks of the bomber formation AFTER successfully driving off the enemy if not shooting them down within sight of the bomber formations, rather than pursuing the enemy back to their home bases. It was somewhat of an issue in 1943 when the P-51 Mustang had not yet been deployed to the front lines. The older shorter-ranged P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt fighters did not have the capability to stay with the bombers all the way to targets deep in Germany, and the bombers suffered horrendous losses to German fighters past the range limits of the P-38s and P-47s. As more 8th Air Force fighter groups replaced their P-47s and P-38s with P-51s, tasks were rotated among the fighter groups between bomber escort and fighter sweep, the latter meaning that the fighters flew out ahead of the bomber route to intercept the German interceptors before they got within sight of the bombers, and/or destroy them on the ground on their own airfields.
Total abandonment of the bombers was NEVER condoned. The 8th Air Force was primarily a bomber force, and by the Fall of 1943 the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were endangered species. Jimmy Doolittle, the commanding general of the 8th, was no dummy; his doctrine of employing fighters in both bomber escort and fighter sweeps reduced the bomber losses to 20-25% of what they had been before the arrival of the P-51. The Italian-based 15th Air Force quickly followed suit with that doctrine. The promise in RED TAILS fictionally given by Colonel Bullard (actually a thinly disguised version of the real-life Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.) to reduce bomber losses by 70-80% was in real life fulfilled by all American fighter pilots in the European Theater. They not only reduced the bomber losses to a fourth of what they had been, but effectively eliminated the German Luftwaffe over their own home turf wherever they found them, and not just near the bomber formations.
RED TAILS insinuates throughout the length of the movie that the 332nd was the only fighter group that stayed with the bombers and that the other fighter groups violated operational orders and standing doctrine by abandoning the bombers in pursuit of German fighters for their own personal glory.
The Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd had a more than honorable combat record and a story to be proud of, a story which could be told without trying to make other US Army Air Force fighter units look bad by telling falsehoods about them. The Tuskegee Airmen deserve better than that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Tuskegee Airmen deserved better than this tripe! Their story is a
marvelous one but Lucas has ham fisted it into a caricature. I am
extremely disappointed by this film. I hope someday Hollywood will
finally realize that truth is often...... more entertaining than
fiction, particularly when it comes to aviation and history.
These men were HIGHLY educated, technically astute, and physically fit. The USAAC/USAAF was doing everything in its power to disqualify black applicants for flying assignments by setting standards for them that were ridiculously high. The plan backfired, resulting in a Fighter Group composed of truly exceptional men. Yet NONE of this is conveyed in "Red Tails". We have an insubordinate hot shot, an alcoholic, a guy who likes to eat his pipe, and a mush mouth who just tells jokes.
It would have been nice to see a Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, or Clint Eastwood treatment on the topic. Maybe an interview with fighter ace Lee Archer and a few other Red Tails, then a flashback to the TRUE story, not this one dimensional nonsense.
A waste of some talented actors (and, my God, Terrence Howard was horrendous in this film) and special effects work (although some of the aerial choreography completely defied the laws of physics). The dialogue, particularly during the combat scenes is some of the worst I've ever heard. Also, the German "villain" is nothing like the Luftwaffe fighter pilots of World War II. These men were, as a whole, chivalrous and honorable, not to mention highly skilled and served for love of country, not for the fanatics who ran their government. The enemy in this film seems more like the Nazi/Hydra bad guy from "Captain America: The First Avenger" or something. Gag.
The acting is wooden, the writing atrocious, and the scenes disjointed. There is simply no cogent, coherent narrative here. It is basically a film about dogfights with shallow "drama" piecing them together. This film could have been so much better, but alas, George Lucas can't see the forest for the trees and squanders an opportunity to make a truly moving, memorable film that honors these men the way they should be honored.
Final analysis: This movie needs a lot more "Twelve O'Clock High" (a classic starring Gregory Peck, written by men who actually flew B-17s over Germany in combat) and a *lot* *less* "Pearl Harbor".
This is a very unfortunate attempt to tell an important story and is a disservice to the men who lived these historic events. The character development is non-existent and portrays these men in a stereotypical light. The portrayal of the German pilots creates a comic book atmosphere, you can almost see the dialog bubble above their heads saying "Curses! Foiled again!" as they sneer at their adversaries. The flight sequences remind me of those from 1940s and 1950s films where the "planes" are plastic models on cables with the cameras panning the model to depict motion. The only flight sequences which are realistic are the landing and take-off scenes. I am extremely disappointed in this film and expected much more from Lucas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Horrible movie which did the same for The Tuskegee Airmen (1995) that
Pearl Harbor did for Tora! Tora! Tora! Watching the movie, I felt like
I was watching a Playstation game. The computer generated graphics were
so unreal looking, unlike past WWII movies like Memphis Bell, Flags of
our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. I expected far better from
George Lucas but he made it look as if I was watching another of his
Star Wars movies and his pilots were attacking the Death Star. There
was also just too much unrealism like the P-40's appearing far superior
to the ME 109's when in reality, it was the other way around. Or the
four P-40's attacking the Luftwaffe base and practically destroying the
whole base with little damage to themselves. Or the P-51 attacking the
German destroyer causing massive explosions all throughout the ship,
not to mention that by 1944, German surface ships were pretty much
non-existent. And the B-17 bomber was a tough airplane and not brittle
like the movie made it to be with wings sawed in half from enemy
bullets. I also couldn't buy one of the white POW's who escaped with
one of the Tuskegee airman (Junior), showing up at Ramstein air base to
give them back Junior's dog tags then later on, Junior appearing back
at the base. They were also very heavy with the touchy feely music
throughout the movie.
The history of the Tuskegee Airmen is a great story to tell but this movie did a disservice and all too predictable. It's just too bad that movies drawn from historic events cannot be portrayed that way and instead, have to be Hollywoodized! This must've been a major disappointment for Cuba Gooding Jr., who starred in The Tuskegee Airmen.
Weak story-line, one dimensional characters, cheesy dialog, cheap
looking CGI, and an out of place love story all make up this lousy
Being that I am a history buff and have a particular interest in WWII I added this movie to my 'must see' list when I saw the trailers for it, boy do I wish I hadn't. Literally within the first 2 minutes of the movie I realized what a big mistake I made. The movie opens with credits that look like they are straight out of a bad 70's movie, very outdated and plain. Then the bad dialog started with the pilots' voice overs of cheesy and bland one liners. For a 2011 movie I would expect the CGI to be better but a lot of the time I felt like I watching a WWII game for play station 1. I remember sitting there thinking how the heck can 2001's Pearl Harbor, a movie that came out over 10 years ago have better and more realistic special effects than a movie that came out now? The plot is very weak and has no structure, it just jumps from scene to scene making it impossible for the audience to feel any emotional connection to the characters or overall story. Then of course there is a love story thrown in I guess to make things more interesting which it doesn't because it is poorly developed and seems out of place. Now I don't mind love stories being mixed into history dramas, if done well but the love story in Red Tails is not done well. The 2 characters that 'fall in love' and the actors that portray them have absolutely no chemistry, their scenes are just awkward, and this sub plot just has randomly scenes sprinkled through out the movie, and each one never fails to feel out of place.
In closing my advice is skip it. I left the theater mad that I wasted my $10.50.
I cannot speak to the whole movie as I could not be bothered to waste
my time all the way to the end. I can tell you why I left though. The
acting was terrible. It is almost as if the actors are shot up with
some kind of depressant. When they are attempting to be funny it comes
across as ridiculous. When they are trying to be serious it comes
across as boring and slight. When they are trying to be dramatic or
inspiring it falls so far short as to make you wonder why you are still
there. (and why I left).
Aside from the inadequate acting, the characters themselves as written are not what you would expect. They are not disciplined or particularly smart. They are benign, happy go lucky, airy, slapstick caricatures. The shots of them in combat ring about as true as Spy Kids.
It is really as though the people involved in making this movie have never even bothered to view other war movies, never mind trying to reach for the tone and feeling of real life war. There is no sense that the true emotional core of this topic is ever seriously attempted.
This subject matter is so inspiring on its own that it is quite shocking to see that something this unfeeling and flat could be the result.
My biggest problem is that I saw the 1995 film Tuskegee Airman and
loved it. I had to compare this current film to that and unfortunately
found it extremely lacking.
I don't feel any connection to the characters in this film. Live or die, who knows or cares.
Contrasting that with the Tuskegee Airman, when people died in that film, you felt it. You cared about each single character and were emotionally invested with them.
So my saying, wait for DVD, and if you want a much better film, buy the Tuskegee Airman. You wont be disappointed.
Among the many problems I had with Red Tails, I suppose one of the most
egregious was the incredibly overbearing and cloying musical score. But
in a rather sad way, the score perfectly fits the entirely forced and
artificial nature of the movie itself. Now, I know that typically a
film's musical score is used to enhance emotion, but in the case of Red
Tails, the music is so over-the-top, in-your-face, and cliché ridden
that I couldn't help but laugh at times. One example is the music we
hear when a soldier drives into an Italian town. Yes, we know we're in
Italy, but in case anyone is confused we're treated to a musical cue
that sounds like the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp. And if
you can't figure out that the German pilot is a bad guy, why, the music
will certainly tell you! Well, that and the GIGANTIC SCAR ON HIS German
And I'm sure I'll be called a pinko/commie for saying this, but what was up with playing America the Beautiful during the credits? It felt so forced, like the music in one of those "patriotic" animatronic exhibits at Disneyland that gets mocked. And the reason those are mocked is because they are lifeless objects trying to manipulate and force us to feel something without actually LETTING us feel that way on our own. It's cynical trickery. And that's how I feel about the score of Red Tails and pretty much the movie in general.
The men of the 332nd were heroes and patriots. Real ones. But they were also real men, not the cartoon characters in Red Tails. And the Tuskegee Airmen deserve better than the childish fantasy of George Lucas by way of Anthony Hemingway.
The Script was awful (probably handwritten and about a page and a half
of college rule paper) the acting was the worst, the love story was
lame. Just an all-around BAD movie.
You think before it was released someone would have reviewed the movie and say " Man, thats an awful movie... Might need to rethink this one."
I am mad because this movie had so much potential and I in my opinion it fell flat on its face. It looked cheap and poorly done from the beginning. Should have left this one to a directer that knows what they are doing. This movie made Fly Boys look like it should have won Best Picture.
I figured with names such as George Lucas, Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence Howard that Red Tails had to be a great movie. I couldn't have been more wrong. To start with the acting was sub-standard, it was as though I was sitting through a high school play. Everyone was very robotic sounding, no heart and soul per se. Gooding's performance was his worse yet and him constantly gnawing away on his unlit pipe, which he was pretending to smoke became an ongoing joke, I think they meant to put CGI smoke in afterwards but perhaps Mr. Lucas forgot or ran out of money to spend. On the bright side it was nice to see the guy that played Rick Simon from the 80's show Simon & Simon was alive and well. The plot was absolutely miserable. Characters that had no place being there, in particular the Italian love interest of one of the pilots. It seemed like the intent was suppose to be a sidelined plot, but if that was the idea, it failed. She had no place in this story. All the white folk are made out to be racists, save a few kind officers who pull for the Tuskegee airmen to get a fail shake, the white fighter pilots come off as over zealot morons who abandon their task at every whim to chase decoys, there is an alcoholic pilot who would have been booted from flying long ago, the reckless one that does what he wants and disobeys orders, who would have been court martialed and discharged in the first 10 minutes of the movie, and the list goes on and on, it was unbearable. Also, in this movie, apparently pilots are not subject to the laws of physics and G-force. The CGI looked cartoonish. The fighter planes were doing stunts and manoeuvres that would be obviously impossible in reality. Trains that explode and derail when shot at by 50 calibre guns, it goes on and on...Look I know it is a movie and not a documentary, but it kills me when at the beginning of the film it boldly states that this movie is based on factual events. The only factual events in Red Tails is that there was an all African American fighter squadron who painted their plane tails red, PERIOD. Bottom line, this flick had B-movie acting, crappy direction, a God-awful script, corny dog fighting scenes, cheap CGI graphics, unrealistic physics defying stunts and a out of place musical score, hip-hop music over the closing credits, please. I wish I never saw this movie.
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