Movie Reviews: Keeping Lessons from History Alive


On the Christmas episode of season five of Black-ish, Dre does his best to convince the family of the importance of going to see Back of the Bus: The Rosa Parks Story instead of the popular Commander Justice. While there are many comical aspects to this episode, an underlying message seems to be that we need to be sure that our own, not too distant, history is remembered and appreciated by future generations.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Denlinger’s journalism class watched the movie Red Tails as a part of a movie review unit. At the onset of the unit, less than 20% of the class were able to express any knowledge or understanding of who the Tuskegee Airmen were.  Below are some of the reviews written by students in the class:

Zoeie McKnight

Red Tails Review

The movie Red Tails directed by Anthony Hemingway and George Lucas is based off true events that happened in the WWII time period about the Tuskegee Pilot Institute. This movie is full of emotion and heart but also action with historical events that gives watchers a big insight on what it was like being an African American fighter pilot during WWII. I give the story-line of this movie a rating of 9.6/10 because of how they really brought these events to life years after it happened, this movie keeps watchers on the edge of their seats with all the explosions and very enticing scenes. A big part of the plot that I enjoyed a lot was the change in attitude towards the African American pilots from the White pilots. I give the acting an 8.9/10 because these actors portrayed characters that watchers grew to love and enticed them to continue watching the movie. David Oyelowo portrayed Joe Little perfectly as people grew to love his rule-breaking adventurous attitude. The acting in this film definitely made it hard for viewers to watch, with all the emotion put forth. I give the set design a rating of 9.3/10 because it was just beautiful along the ocean line of Italy but also seemed accurate based on the the time period it was in; WWII. It was very detailed and clear, for example the sky, it didn’t look like a drape with clouds on it. Lastly, I give the soundtrack of the entire film a 9.2/10 because all the little sounds like gun noises or car engines were all realistic and believable but also on camp, when they played soft jazz over the intercoms instead of swing music African Americans listened to back then, was very accurate based on the time period because swing type music was not introduced to Europe back then but later on in history. I really liked this movie because it really touched me in the change of attitude towards the African Americans and the respect they gained for their duties and contributions in the war. I loved the scenery and that it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, I just wanted to keep watching and watching and was sad how it ended but happy as well. Overall I give the entire movie a 9.3/10 and highly recommend going to see it.

Aastha Singh

Movie Title: Red Tails (2012)

Director: Anthony Hemingway

Cast: Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Ne-Yo, Michael B Jordan, Leslie Odom Jr, Cuba Gooding Jr, Elijah Kelley, Marcus Paulk

Genre: Historical Drama, Action

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review: This movie was, to be very frank, mediocre. The story-line was all sorts of messed up. Maurice got his own small scene and was introduced as a major character, and then for the rest of the movie was treated as a side character. Even when he died, there was little to no exposure of it, it was treated it like a very minor occurrence. Sofia and Lightnings story needed more development in order to be a valuable addition to the plot. All the small side stories they had added were woefully underdeveloped and had little to no importance to the actual film, like the bar fight or meetings with the officials. With the exception of maybe Lightning, all characters felt superficial and should have been expanded upon. It portrayed all of the airmen as frivolous and lucky and all of the white people as blatant racists.The squadron leader drank on the job and one of pilots completely disregarded orders, which should have gotten them severely reprimanded, or even kicked out, but no one of authority even acknowledged the issue. All deaths were brushed aside with a few curses and a minuscule bit of lamenting. The lack of development made it so that the audience had no emotional connection with most characters and therefore, their deaths were less impactful (save for Lightning). The airmen were flippant and didn’t seem like serious, disciplined soldiers at all. The cinematography wasn’t bad at all, in my opinion. The sounds and explosions seemed realistic to me, someone that has no experience in aerial combat. The color and filming techniques were fine. The soundtrack was good, it built suspense leading to all the major combat scenes. The acting, however, was severely lacking. All of the American men in the movie were, for the most part, awful actors. They spoke in a lackluster, monotone voice and showed very little emotion or facial expression. The Germans were just as bad, save for “Pretty Boy”, who was slightly better (but not by much). The African Americans were better at acting. The best actors in the film were Howard and Oyelowo. Howard was as intense and disciplined as he needed to be and delivered an amazing performance. Oyelowo embodied his character very well, portraying him as a reckless daredevil. The set and costume design both were good. To the a non-military audience, it looks and seems very accurate. I give this movie a 3 out of 5 star rating because the subject matter and technical details were good, but the execution and actual story line were sub-par.

Red Tails Movie Review

Lane Ziegler

Released on January 20th, 2012, the movie “Red Tails” directed by George Lucas and Anthony Hemingway has won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture. It has received a 6/10 from rotten tomatoes. When searched for the plot of this movie it says, “During World War II, the Civil Aeronautics Authority selects 13 black cadets to become part of an experimental program at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The program aims at training “colored personnel” to become fighter pilots for the Army. However, discrimination, lack of institutional support and the racist belief that these men lacked the intelligence and aptitude for the job dog their every step. Despite this, the Tuskegee Airmen, as they become known, more than prove their worth.” After watching the trailer of “Red Tails,” it seemed like an interesting movie, so we watched it.

The cinematography the movie has, had me on the edge of my seat. From intense camera angles, to the crazy explosions of planes crashing. It depicted what life really was like being a fighter pilot. Music plays a big part in movies. The soundtrack had matched up to the intensity of some scenes. But with more calm moments, the music had felt less harsh. The actors, including Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, Cuba Gooding Jr, David Oyelowo, and Tristan Wilds have helped show what life was like being a black fighter pilot in World War II. The characters had this relationship that every “co-worker” should have. Though filled with corny dialogue, and heaps of clichés, the movie still has had lots of people who’ve enjoyed it. The costume design gives a good image of the types of clothes they wore in that time era. It made you feel as though it was actually filmed during that time.

People seem to hate this movie. Someone said “Red Tails could get shot down as one of the biggest disappointments of 2012.” Someone else said, “this has great action, an affable cast and an inspirational story. But given its subject, it could have been so much more.” as you can see, not many are too happy with how it came out. In my opinion, it’s a great story to tell, but this movie did a disservice and all too predictable. It’s just too bad that movies drawn from historic events cannot be portrayed that way and instead, have to be Hollywoodized. Though some people like the movie. One saying, “Red Tails is a great movie filled with action, romance and all based on true events.” The movie is powerful and is a great way to introduce all Americans to heroes that have for the most part gone unsung throughout mainstream American History.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes action packed films. I could see it being a good movie for a history class to watch. It helps depict what life was like in that time, and I think that’s really cool