George Lucas' 'Red Tails' movie review, trailer: Sells Tuskegee Airmen short | Movies | -- Your State. Your News.

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George Lucas' 'Red Tails' movie review, trailer: Sells Tuskegee Airmen short

Redtails012112_optBY JOE TYRRELL

After decades of trying, George Lucas has finally succeeded in bringing the story of World War II's heroic Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen in "Red Tails."

Well, part of the story.

Filled with exciting computer-generated action, "Red Tails" captures events in 1944 when the 332nd Fighter Group, comprised solely of African-American fighter pilots, finally got its chance at crucial action in the skies over Italy and Germany.

There are killer dogfights, exploding trucks, exploding trains, exploding ships, exploding planes and what else you got that explodes? Fighters swoop low over targets and plunge precipitously while streaming smoke as pilots pull Gs while doing abrupt turns and rolls, climbing for the heavens, laugh, holler and dodge bullets pinging through their canopies.

There are Italian-like coastlines, villages and women, all looking scenic. There are card games and drinking, casual conversations with heavy foreshadowing, men in crisp uniforms, saluting crisply and promising to do their duties. There's a Jewish guy, a Southerner, an Irish guy... Oh wait, they are all black guys.

For this is really the story of how, strained to the limit, America's racist military establishment turned to African-Americans to help win the war. That story might include the bigotry these men had to overcome just to be considered for training as pilots — at field built by black contractors just 40 miles from an existing pilot training center, which in the Jim Crow South was "whites only."

It might have included details of the extreme perseverance and self-discipline needed by these would-be pilots, enrolled in a program that effectively served as a quota, with a ceiling on the number of those who would ever be accepted. It might have showed incidents like the reassignment of the training officer for the first class of Tuskegee airmen, the 99th Fighter Pursuit Group, after he asserted that white civilians should obey his black base sentries.

In the absence of such details, we get: Lightning (David Oyelowo), the reckless ace with an eye for the ladies; Easy (Nate Parker), the by-the-book captain who drinks to cope with stress; Junior (Tristan Wilds), the youngster who wants to prove he belongs; Smokey (Ne-Yo), who speaks as though he is reviving Richard Pryor's Mudbone character. And so on.

To their credit, Lucas and his collaborators recognize there should be back stories. Director Anthony Hemingway and writers John Ridley and Aaron McGruder (from John B. Holway's book) shine some light on the pervasive discrimination these pilots overcame. The movie opens with a brutal quote from a ridiculous 1925 "report" by the U.S. Army War College about why blacks cannot be soldiers.TerrenceHoward012112_opt

As commanding officer Col. A.J. Bullard, Terrence Howard has several good scenes at the Pentagon, jousting with white officers like the open racist played by Bryan Cranston, trying to shut down what he views as a dangerous experiment.

"We have the right to fight for our country the same as any other American," Howard tells him. "We will not go away."

Comments (4)
4 Saturday, 21 January 2012 20:38
For years, this history sat – waiting to come alive… while overt turned into covert. Hats off to Executive producer George Lucas for bringing this story to the big screen and giving us a conversation that is reality!!!
3 Saturday, 21 January 2012 15:21
Alex Fernandez
The HBO special titled, The Tuskegee Airmen, was so much better. Do yourselves a favor and find this fine film and judge for yousrelves.
2 Saturday, 21 January 2012 13:50
Ed Sutter
I really enjoyed this movie. The air battles were stirring and the cast, I believe, did a great job in representing the original air men. I'm sorry the film didn't let the audience know that it was at the insistence of Eleanor Roosevelt (after "bugging" Franklin) that these flyers were given the chance to really help the war effort and, that after leaving the service many of them became professionals; doctors, lawyers, judges, etc...
1 Saturday, 21 January 2012 12:36
Bernadine Davis
This is a historical movie that I really enjoyed. We the people should remember where we came from so that we don't make the same mistakes again. This movie is not only inspiring and uplifting to proud americans, but it is sending a message to young African American men (and non-African American men) to stand for something and fight. There is a great message in this movie.

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