Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bougie Movie Review - Red Tails


Red Tails is a good movie, not a great one. If you are expecting a sweeping historical epic that takes you on a heart-racing journey, this isn't that. If you are expecting a pivotal snapshot of an important moment in Black History a la Malcolm X, this ain't that. Red Tails is an aptly-written, beautifully filmed enjoyable two hour movie. Period.

For those who don't know, Red Tails is about the Tuskegee Airman training program. The film was written by Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) and John Ridley (U Turn, Three Kings, Undercover Brother). Anthony Hemingway (Ali, Changing Lanes, The Wire) directed the film. George Lucas executive produced this movie and felt so strongly about it, he wrote a personal check for upwards of $50 million when he couldn't get a studio to back the project.

I will admit, I felt compelled to support the movie after bitching about the TPization of the film industry and lamenting about "where have all the black films gone?" time after time. I have no desire to see Madea Flies Jets or Why Did I Get Married 6. So BougieMom and I hit the Studio Movie Grill for Friday's matinee.

The movie started off slow but picked up. Transitions between scenes weren't clear and you weren't 100% sure how much time passed from one movie moment to the next. You got the feeling that there was some stuff on the cutting room floor that might have filled in a blank or two. The dialogue had its moments, the cinematography and special effects were awesome, and you did find yourself engaged with the characters on the screen. No shocks, a few thrills, a few heart string pulls and a chuckle or two sums it up. If the story has a fatal flaw, it's predictability. Ya kinda knew what was gong to be said and done before it happened.

About the acting... I'm not a Terrence Howard fan. But this role was his least irksome in a while. I have a few issues with Cuba Gooding Jr but say what you will about dude (Snow Dogs, really son?) - his niche is playing that All-American character who delivers a catchy line and moves the story forward. Nate Parker played troubled squad leader Easy without much depth though David Oyelowo played hotshot pilot Lightning convincingly. To me, the surprise of the cast was Ne-Yo, playing a character named Smokie. He was surprisingly adept with comedic timing that stole many a scene. Andre Royo (Bubs from The Wire) was completely underutilized in his role as airplane mechanic.

The movie ended somewhat abruptly but still left you with the warm fuzzy wrapped up in a pretty bow. Overall, I give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5. It won't knock your socks off but doesn't leave you angry that you wasted your time and money. Not an instant classic but worth a look. Just one bougie chick's opinion.

In short, I liked it. Didn't love it, but liked it. BougieMom loved it (love, love, loved it) as did the others of her generation in the theater. The matinee was sparsely attended but when we walked out, the line was out the door and the ticket takers were already announcing that the next three shows of the night were sold out. Good for them.

Will you see (have you seen) it, BougieLand? Why or why not or what did you think? (no spoilers, please!)

28 comments:

Mr.TramueL said...

Today, today, today. Going to see it, matinee of course.

Thanks for the Bouge Up.

Singlelif said...

I'll be there today !

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

Um...Bouge? 

I hate to quibble, but it seems Red Tails benefits from a bit of grade inflation.  3.5 stars? Your review was clearly written fairly and even-handedly , but the math doesnt seem to add up to 3.5 stars.  

But like I said...I hate quibbling, So I will merely say thank you. 

Lady4Real said...

Daddy (BougieUnc), my hubs, Mimi, my oldest and my little bro were supposed to see this today but Baltimore got hit with some nasty weather so we aren't going today but we will be going. I grew up watching "The Tuskegee Airmen", "Mrs. Evers Boys", "Roots" and  "Queen". I don't expect this to hold a candle to those but I plan on watching and teaching my sons some of their history. I have "Tuskegee Airmen" at home waiting to be popped into the DVD player. I have a feeling that "Tuskegee" is going to be way better than "Red Tails" but I still plan on supporting.

GammasWorld said...

I haven't seen it yet but I'm glad I read your review first.  I've been tuning out the hype of TJMS, et al and to be honest I was "expecting a pivotal snapshot of an important moment in Black History".   

Anonymous said...

Saw it last night and was fortunate to be part of a test audience that completed a survey afterwards. While I agree it was no life changing movie like "X" it is a great introduction to the Tuskegee Airmen, especially for younger generations unfamiliar with their efforts. My fear is that the audience that truly needs to see this movie (i.e. the younger generation just mentioned) won't run to theaters to see it.

blackprofessor said...

I am a huge supporter of Black films other than Tyler Perry.  I caught a matinee yesterday and I agree with you. The movie was okay.  The stories weren't fleshed out but it was a feel good movie.  I hope this movie does well this weekend because Hollywood pays attention to one color - green! 

My grandfather was in WWII, though not an Airmen.  If he were alive, he would have loved this movie so I am grateful that part of his story is being shown on the big screen.   

SpkTruth2Pwr said...

Thank you for the review!  

I plan on seeing it today!

maureen said...

Thanks for the review. OOMF on twitter slayed the movie. I caught it yesterday and like your mom, I loved it.

Lisalis said...

Lucas also produced a documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen called "Double Victory." It's being screened around the country too...if you're looking for more developed story told in the heroes' own words.

Kim (✿◠‿◠) said...

 Overall i liked the movie.  All the press/promotion i saw before the film came out touted it as an action film, and that's basically what it was.   The aerial combat scenes were awesome, the romance story was irksome to me and really didn't need to be in the movie. What i also didn't like  was  Terrence Howard and Nate Parker's hair. 

CorettaJG said...

I hope as many people as possible will see Red Tails this weekend so it's #1 & sends the message that a movie with an all-black cast can make real money.  I hope that this period of honoring the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen will continue and people will read about them, talk about them, and see them as the real life courageous heroes that they are.  We owned the theater in Maryland and I loved it!  If it takes rabidly supporting a few just fine movies to get this history discussed, I'm happy to do it.
HBO's The Tuskegee Airman had a MUCH better script but Red Tails had action sequences that were worthy of Star Wars.  Combine the two and we have a winner (with the exception of the cartoonish, fake speech pattern used by Ne-Yo that was distractingly bad in my opinion, I have to respectfully disagree on his performance, I was ready to shoot him myself, lol). In the hands of Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood or even Spike Lee, the story line and drama might have been handled better, but I'm embracing George Lucas' willingness to struggle and put his money where his mouth is.  He said on The Daily Show that there is a prequel and sequel that are better, the story was just too big to cover it all.  Perhaps leaving out the Italian girl and drinking problem would have made room but oh well.I'm an extremely proud Tuskegee University graduate where I met my first Airman Col Herbert Carter, I'm active duty Air Force & my ex is one of the 1% of black fighter pilots currently flying (there were more black fighter pilots during WWII than are flying now by a long shot).  Any positive shine that can spill onto the Airmen, the University, the military, and inspire future generations of aviators I will more than gladly embrace.  I plan to go again tomorrow. :-)

Kwasi said...

 I saw the movie.  It wasn't awesome but it wasn't bad either.  Basically it was just a movie that introduced you to the Tuskegee Airmen and their contribution to WWII.  The CGI was flawless the acting was aight  but the story line was lacking  there really wasn't  a real story line other than the Airmen  as a whole.  I  wished that they  had developed a stronger story line focused on one or two of the main characters but other than that it wasn't  bad.   A  good movie for younger people that may not know about the Airmen but like it was said upthread if you looking for a real indepth character driven movie having  you wanting for more  this ain't it. But at the end of the day I was not mad I spent money on it.  

Scrichards727 said...

I agree with you.  I did feel it ended abruptly and I was left with questions but I am glad that I went and hopefully the numbers will be amazing for opening weekend

Oregonsistah said...

I plan on seeing it, a male friend of mine said "Tuskegee Airman" was better with Lawrence Fishburne...

GrownAzzMan said...

I saw it and liked it. I am very familiar with the real story having met several of the Tuskegee Airman who live in SoCal and also having seen a couple of documentaries on the subject. I thought this was a good dramatization. Stayed true to the essence of the historical fact with enough departures to make it commercial. I recommend it.

Brittany Geneva said...

I really liked it! I don't think Neyo was that amazing...I really liked Nate Parker & David Oyelowo

Lisa Steptoe said...

I saw it last night with about 20 friends and your review was EXACTLY what I thought about the movie. I found Neyo a tad annoying with that affected accent or whatever...yet he was funny. There were also moments when I had a flash back to Hogan's Hero's & Mash...like really? I give it 3 out of 5.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

It hasn't opened out here yet, but I am dying over 'Madea Flies Jets'. XD

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

I saw that movie on HBO. If it's out on DVD, it's going on my Must Buy list.

CaliGirlED said...

I saw Red Tails last night and I thought it was a good movie. Having seen the Tuskegee Airmen on HBO, gave me a more complete sense of their experience. TA focused more on the training they received and RT focused more on their action (or lack thereof) in the war. Two great movies about great men in our history.

Michele said...

I enjoyed it as well.  People in my theater were applauding at some moments.  I took my 17 year old daughter and she fell in love with the young man who played Ray-Gun. 

tiffanyinhouston said...

Much like I said on a status on FB, sometimes I wish folks would quit overanalyzing shit and go see a movie (especially one like this in THIS genre)  for what it is, escapism and entertainment. I enjoyed the movie, I generally agree with your assessment, and hope more folks go and see it. Sometimes, it's just not that deep. I mean this is not playing in limited distribution at some art house cinema.

Rubie said...

I TOTALLY agree the movie was ok to me. The plot/storylines needed to be better/stronger and flow better. I thought it was well acted and entertaining but could have flowed better. The HBO movie was better.

TP takes a lot of heat but without his movies and success we would not be seeing a renewing of more black movies each yr. He help make studios take notice that we do like to see our stories on the big screen. I do NOT like all of TPs movie but I respect his drive/passion and attempt at showing/telling our stories. I think he needs to listen to the critics more, develop his characters/storylines oh and drop some of the sterotypes he has in each movie. 

PatriciaW said...

Totally agree with your review but felt it was important to support this movie anyway.  Glad I did.

Beauty Is Diverse said...

I saw the movie and your review is 100% correct.

CurvyCEO said...

Bwahahaha @ "I have no desire to see Madea Flies Jets or Why Did I Get Married 6."
Beauty Is Diverse 
I agree with your review although I actually found Ne-Yo to be annoying...I mean, the whole time I was thinking, "That's Ne-Yo. Stop talking like that." He reminded me of that David Alan Grier character from "In Living Color" - "Wrote a song 'bout it . . . wanna hear it? Here it go!" *lol* But I'm glad that I supported it. To me, it was classic George Lucas--amazing action, sucky dialogue.

rikyrah said...

I agree with you review, and I enjoyed it.

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