Niggaz With Altitude

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RED TAILS… oh dear oh dear. I think fans ought to be glad the STAR WARS franchise is out of George Lucas’s hands — it’s been apparent for some time that practically anybody could make a better, more tonally consistent STAR WARS film than Lucas himself. Is Joel Schumacher available? What’s that you say, he IS?

This was supposedly a dream project of the producer, but he doesn’t seem to have invested anything in it besides money — the dogfights are lovingly rendered (there were reports of some VFX shots looking unsatisfactory on the big screen, but it all looked dazzling on my TV, and slightly easier to follow than the later STAR WARSES) but the human interactions seem to be striving to obtain the long sought-after quality of zero dimensionality.

And at some point late in the game, it seems like everybody gave up caring at all. The opening action sequence is disfigured by having chunky red credits stamped over the middle of the screen, destroying suspense and engagement — I guess the movie doesn’t have a quieter scene the titles could go over, and laying them on black would be too old-school, but do we need opening titles at all? STAR WARS only has the name of the film at the beginning, as I recall.

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What puts the tin lid on it is the subtitles for the German characters, which are apparently intended for the hard of hearing, since we not only get the translation, but the helpful parenthesis “[in German]“. In case we were confused. I look forward to the next edit of STAR WARS where Greedo’s subtitles supply us with useful information about which precise alien tongue he is jabbering in. Actually, no I don’t, because Lucas isn’t likely to be rejigging STAR WARS any more. I *slightly* look forward to Disney one day making the original, authentic cut of the first STAR WARS available again, but we may have to wait a while for that.

Lucas is best out of it, and he’s to be applauded ¬†for giving the money to charity. He leaves behind three interesting, decent movies (THX, GRAFFITI, STAR WARS), those nightmarish prequels, and this interestingly awful thing.

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9 Responses to “Niggaz With Altitude”

  1. I saw this the other day, it is bafflingly awful. The dialog sounds as if they had a placeholder script that they never bothered updating. Nobody sounds like a real human being.

  2. Speaking as a 65 year-old African-American I give up on this country dealing with race in any way so much as approaching honesty. And so does Ishmael Reed

  3. Paul, I think that’s exactly what it is. I think maybe the writers’ strike had something to do with that, but if we look at recent Lucas scripts we can see that dialogue is not high on his list of priorities.

    One of the movie’s weirdest ideas is to posit an interracial romance in recently fascist Italy, and have no dramatic problems arise concerning it. If the suggestion is that racism was purely an American phenomenon that wouldn’t exist in Italy, that seems odd. And the acceptance by the white soldiers of their black counterparts is abrupt and absolute and thus totally unconvincing.

  4. John Seal Says:

    I ranked Red Tails as my second least favourite film of 2012, nipping on the heels of Polisse. The only vaguely amusing aspect of the film is Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s uncanny ability to channel the spirit of Popeye through his character.

  5. There would need to be a lot more barroom brawling for that to pay off!

  6. I some times wonder, whatever happened to that man who made ‘American Graffiti’ ? With the exception of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Lucas just hasn’t shown anything like the same skill as a filmmaker as he did back then.

  7. I think he suddenly got everything he ever wanted, materially, and lost his drive. After the first Star Wars, he was building an empire, and after the second, it was built. Nothing excited him again.

  8. Maybe some filmmakers, like some novelists, only have one or two good films in them…might explain M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and Tarsem Singh (really loved The Fall…The Cell and Mirror, Mirror, not so much.)

    Well, can’t really fault them too much for that. I haven’t managed ONE successful attempt. Only a bit sad, though, when we really want some more of their best.

  9. Shyamalan’s fall smacks of hubris. Tarsem is just inconsistent, and Mirror, Mirror demonstrates a lack of facility for comedy. I suspect he’ll make another good film — if he can replace Eiko Ishioka.

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