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Red Tails

By MATTHEW SINGER

[ONE NIGHT ONLY] Apparently tired of meddling with his own history, with Red Tails, George Lucas is going ahead and fucking up actual history. Sorry, that's not totally fair. In truth, Lucas has been trying to get this film about the Tuskegee Airmen—the first African-American fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II—off the ground since the late ’80s, back when the only thing fanboys held against him were Ewoks. As a rare Hollywood blockbuster with an all-black cast and a subject that does not equate to easy profit, it's the very definition of a “passion project.” Here's a question, though: Why, after having 20 years to consider how to honor these barrier-breaching, pre-civil rights-era heroes, did he conclude the best route would be turning them into a live-action cartoon? Not even a good cartoon, either; more like an outdated comic book from the 1940s. What makes the Tuskegee pilots fascinating is not just their bravery in ably facing down the fearsome German Luftwaffe, but that they did so at the behest of a country that thought of them as little more than extra bodies to throw at the Axis powers, and decades before their efforts could be linked to a widespread social movement happening on the ground. Red Tails, directed by The Wire alum Anthony Hemingway, reduces their accomplishments to antiquated, flag-waving war-movie clichés.

 

Special Note

Mission Theater. 7 pm Tuesday, April 24. Presented by the Portland African-American Film Festival.
 
  • Genres: Historical drama, War
  • Release Date: Friday, January 20, 2012
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 [ Some Seq. of War Violence ]
  • Critic's Score: 45
  • Starring: Bryan Cranston [], Terrence Howard [], Cuba Gooding Jr. []
  • Directed by: Anthony Hemingway [Director]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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