There are more than a few badly kept secrets about me. The first is that I’m awfully fond of pork-skins and Anheuser Busch products. (In tandem or separate.) Another is couple of secrets is that I like watching explosions and fighting hobos on Wednesday nights. (Never in tandem.) Finally, one of the biggest, badly kept secrets about me is that I’m a massive history/WWII nerd. [i]
I’m an even bigger nerd when it comes to the involvement of black people, more particularly black-Americans contributions to WWII. [ii] A few years ago when I heard that Lucasfilm, the House that Vader built, was doing a feature film called “Red Tails” about the exploits of the 332nd Fighter Group who are more commonly known as the Tuskegee Airmen my interest was piqued. (I kind of wanted to be a pilot when I was little too.)The reason for my excitement doubled because most films about WWII only depict (If they depict.) black servicemen wielding shovels, spatulas, or posted up behind the wheel of a deuce and a half.[iii] Very seldom were black men with rifles seen.
Red Tails, has a majority black cast with includes a lot of talent ranging from recognizable actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrance Howard to up and comers like Nate Parker and the Wire’s Tristan Wilds and Michael B. Jordan so there is a great chance that the film will be marketable. [iv] Hollywood’s history with movies that have a majority black cast withstanding this film has to be bankable to insure others like it will follow.
Like every movie based on historical time periods or events I have the tendency to pick movies apart using what I know about the events depicted. This is due to my aforementioned nerdiness, history studies, and my inherent now it all status. Of course I haven’t seen the film yet so I’ve decided to list things that I HOPE to get from the film and my concerns with the film.
I hope that this movie was everything Miracle at St. Anna wasn’t. No knock to Spike but Miracle was all over the place and lacked a ton of focus. This is a cliché statement but the book really was better.
I’m concerned that this is more of a series of explosions than an actual story. Hey, I like when things go boom but I hope the tone of the film is deeper than a Michael Bay film… Any Michael Bay film.
That being said:
I hope the script matches up with the magnitude of what the likes of Roscoe Brown, Lee Archer, and others accomplished. Even the best actors can’t save a bad script. Hopefully John Ridley and Aaron McGruder did the work to give the cast the dialogue they need.
I’m concerned about one particular thing in the films trailer: Chanting. “We Fight! We Fight!” is somewhat prominent in the ads for the movie. I get that film trailers have to include things to get potential audiences hype to go out and spend their duckets on a movie. I’m just hoping that the chanting is an example of this. Although, black soldiers of the time period were responsible for developing many of the marching cadences that became common in the military so hell anything is possible.
I hope the aerial combat looks realistic. Due to the fact that there aren’t very many P-51D Mustangs in flying condition around the world we have to rely on CGI to carry the load. As awesome of a piece of flying machinery that Mustangs are it cannot defy laws of gravity and physics. [v] If you ever watched a big budget action film in the last 15 years you know that CGI is like Sriracha chili sauce—a little goes a long way.
I’m concerned that even “WE” won’t even go see the film. Hollywood often doesn’t invest in movies about black people because of one other color; green. If the studios can’t guarantee a large box office draw then that ish probably won’t happen. From time to time we’ve been a part of this problem too. Without a soundtrack or direct niche marketing black too often overlook black films.
I hope this is the first of many larger budget films giving historical events that are off the beaten path some shine. It seemed like a few years ago every movie remotely dealing with historical figures was about Queen Elizabeth I or Viet Nam. Hollywood, like the NFL is a copy-cat business. If Red Tails gets it done then hopefully more light will be cast on some topics that seldom see the light of day.
After I catch the movie this weekend I’ll do a follow up post to let everyone know what I think about it all. I don’t plan on pulling punches and hopefully I won’t have too. If even care, what are your thoughts about Red Tails or historically based films in general?
Vaya con Dios.
[i] I’m into it like Drake is into whining.
[iii]Not to knock the contributions of truck drivers in WWII. The efforts of the Red Ball Express and others pretty much sealed the deal for the Allies in the ETO. I’ve watched Band of Brothers about four times and there was one brother in the entire mini-series. He was driving a truck.