If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I have read and heard, in a few places now, that George Lucas has been working on Red Tails for awhile. But I only became aware of it a few months ago. Upon seeing the trailer, and gearing up for its launch on January 20th, I am extremely excited for this film. For quite a few reasons.
Many movies have been made about the “great generation,” and they usually receive accolades, Oscar talk, and have great meaning to people who remember the World War II era first or second-hand. But rarely, if ever, are stories such as that of the Tuskegee Airmen acknowledged in this way, if at all. Lucas has put together a good cast, a big budget, and an already interesting story and given it the blockbuster treatment that has been thus far absent from movies with racial issues at focus and minorities as the heroes. I have to applaud the Skywalker Ranch crew for taking on a project like this, and fighting to get it made and in theatres.
The truth of the matter is, though, that this movie MUST do well. We are at a critical juncture. Here it is, 2012, the beginning of the year, with several heavy-hitting movies bookending this weekends opening, including Sherlock Holmes, Mission Impossible, The Gray, and Man on a Ledge, not to mention Haywire and Underworld: Awakening opening on the same day. If this movie gets lost in the shuffle, you won’t see any more of these, and minorities will once again be relegated to sidekick status, thug/ buffoon #2, low-budget ethnic interest pieces, or “the oppressed and hopeless struggle” type roles. The Hollywood/ Popular-Media machine is LOOKING for a reason not to put out films like this, so Red Tails has to succeed.
The hope I have in this picture, though, is that it looks like an extremely competent action piece aside from the racially charged plot. Its been a long time since we’ve seen a good aerial dogfighting film, but there’s a reason they were so popular in the eighties. With ILM doing the effects, you could probably check this movie out as a flight piece alone. You have good actors playing what look to be solid characters, you have what is obviously a feel-good story! Also, you probably won’t take the kids to see Underworld or Haywire, but this is one that the whole family can enjoy. It will be interesting to see if Beauty and the Beast takes away from the young audiences that see Red Tails, but I’d imagine the more universal theme will help, and not hinder, the film.
Add to this the purchasing power of the African-American/ minority audience, and this movie COULD open at number one. I say “COULD,” because this is exactly the type of film that every African-American should run to the theatres to see, but don’t, although I can’t recall a movie like this with this level of production value. Quality knows no demographic, so I am very interested to see what the numbers are once the weekend is over. I am predicting this movie to open at number 2, and to remain in the top five for at least two weeks, before a steep decline. Hopefully, the black community will come out in force to make media rethink its treatment of diverse stories.
Actually, scratch that! I hope the American community will come out in force to make media rethink its treatment of AMERICAN stories that just happen to be diverse. Why do the “minorities” have to be BLUE to get people to buy in to their story? This is real history, with real conflict and triumph. In 2012, that should be enough for people to check it out.
PS: I’m going to see this movie at least three times in the theatre, so I’m doing my part. Hopefully, if it is good, others will follow suit…