[Review] Red Tails

Published on January nd, 2012

[Editor’s Note] Nathaniel Tite is a film composer/musician and all around great guy. This is his guest review.


I’ll keep this brief. For those of you that know me, the admiration I have for technology isn’t a surprise. Especially technology used within cinema. I also have an interest in aviation, specifically WWII fighters and bombers. So naturally I’d be interested in a Lucas-driven film about the Tuskegee Airmen of the second world war right? After all, Lucas’ substantial vision brought us innovations such as the Dykstraflex, and dare I say it.. wipe transitions.  Alright, so he didn’t invent the wipe transition… but he did make it cool.  I digress.  Off to the theater I went.

It was a pretty big turnout. History buffs? Lucas Fans? Both?  The lights dimmed, and the previews came and went (I’ll come clean about something right here, my favorite part of the cinema-going experience, are the previews). Then, we were off: Red Dawn. I mean Red Tails. The title card definitely has a throwback feel to it, a look that harkens back to the WWII era movies. The CG looked really good, although a bit too shiny. Anyway, Cue the actors in a flying fortress with some wonky dialogue after their P51 escort ditches them. Things are already looking shaky for the film, but I let it slide. Maybe I felt sorry for them? After all, nobody wants to be shot outta the sky.

P40 fighters began to flying over Italy, and we’re shown our leads in action and again, more cheezy dialogue. Is this Anthony Hemingway’s first film? I’ll give him some credit. After all, while he’s directing TV shows/movies, I’m working a 9 to 5. Still, as the movie progressed, the dialogue got worse and I began to notice a certain “recycling” of the music as well.  It all sounded the same. And guess what? Toward the end of the movie, the bomber pilots continue to amaze me. Only, not in a good way. The inflection exerted in their dialogue is almost laughable. The climax is peppered with Fade ins and fade outs. It’s really noticeable. Smash/jump cuts would be more appropriate to keep momentum.  Or… maybe a wipe? Those are fun right, Lucas?

Let’s recap here: Out-of-place relationship? Check. Awkward prison escape? Check. Disjointed plot? check, check, check. I felt strange, and depressed as the credits started to roll.

All in all, Red Tails is more about the dynamics between the characters rather than the actual dog fighting (which is admittedly pretty damn cool when shit hits the fan).  The problem with that approach is a fatal one: Hemingway doesn’t know how to develop these characters well enough for me to sympathize with their triumphs and tragedies.

I had high hopes because Lucas was behind Red Tails, and he seemed so passionate about making it. But I think that now it’s time George Lucas sticks with stamping THX on studio monitors. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but I’ve seen worse. -Nathaniel

Rating Overall: 2 out of 5