Okay, fair warning time. To adequately review this movie I may have to dip into some spoilers. If that's not your thing, then please don't read on. I'll just tell you that I enjoyed the movie but it didn't live up to its potential.
Still here? Let's move on then.
In a nutshell, Red Tails is a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots from World War II. The real world pilots were an exceptional group of men who served with distinction and proved that the character of a man is not determined by the color of his skin. They were heroes in every sense of the word.
Now if only Hollywood could produce a film about these men that did them justice.
I think a lot of it has to do with things seem too easy for the men in this film. They shoot down Nazi's with relative ease, even destroying jets without took much trouble. And they do it with at worst a few bullet holes in their planes to show for it. No sweat at all.
In the entire flick, only two characters are killed and once sent to prison, though he makes it out in the end. I kept expecting a grand battle where characters we'd seen through the entire film, characters who were amusing and pleasant enough for us to start caring about them, to start dropping like flies. Where's the drama if we don't have a sense that anyone could die?
Nevermind that a lot of the characters portrayed in this film are only one or two steps way from being stereotypes (racial or otherwise). The pretty fight scenes with the well done CGI planes are distracting enough for that to be overlooked. But would it have killed the director or writers to include some real pathos rather than using the cheap trick of killing a guy off just after the love of his life has said she'll marry him?
And what about the drunken leader who never really seems to be affected by alcohol that the audience can see, who even when he fails we know he couldn't have done anything else and the drinking never really seems to have affected his judgement?
There are many missed opportunities in Red Tails but there is some good in all of this. The CGI work was outstanding, which gives me hope that in the future we may finally get to see a really good movie on the Tuskegee Airmen. I have this hope because now World War II films will no longer be restricted by the fact that period vehicles will be so hard to find. They can be reproduced digitally for a fraction of the cost to build them.
I hope we get to have a revival of the classic war movie in the next few years now that this tech is available and able to produce planes that fly realistically. Of course what I want to see is a film celebrating some of the Canadian aces and highlighting their contributions. How likely is that?