Remember back when George Lucas used to produce cool stuff? Yeah, it's been a while.
Next year's Red Tails is a passion project for the Star Wars creator, who's been wanting to realize the true-life tale of the Tuskegee Airman in grand cinematic form for a couple of decades now. It looks to be easily the most appealing project Lucas has been involved with (here, as producer and story writer) in some time, judging by the early footage glimpsed.
Red Tails is a historical war drama that utilizes the generally impeccable effects work of Industrial Light & Magic to bring its W.W. II setting to stylish life. It also boasts a solid main cast that includes stars like Oscar-nominee Terence Howard (Iron Man), Golden-Globe Nominee Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. - who looks to be finally making good movies again.
An eclectic collection of African-American character actors have also been brought onboard to portray the Airmen, including Nate Parker (The Great Debaters), Tristan Wilds (The Wire), Kevin Phillips (Notorious), Elijah Kelley (Hairspray), Marcus T. Paulk (Moesha), Michael B Jordan (Friday Night Lights), and hip-hop artist Cliff "Method Man" Smith.
Check all that out in the second Red Tails trailer (via MTV) below:
For those not up on their 20th century history, here's the official synopsis for Red Tails:
1944. As the war in Europe continues to take its toll on Allied forces, the Pentagon brass has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options – including the untried and untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, they are given the ultimate chance to show their courage. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country – and the fate of the free world.
As was discussed with regards to the first Red Tails trailer, this film is essentially the masculine counterpart to this past week's tale of social inequality and African-American contribution to U.S. history, The Help. However, Red Tails will focus solely on retelling the story of its namesake (a nickname given to the Airmen, after they painted the tails of their P-47s red) in an epic cinematic fashion. That should help it avoid some of the criticisms made towards The Help, which some moviegoers have decried as being just idealized revisionist history.
The aerial battle sequences in Red Tails look very well done and it's hard to image that the Airmen won't make for a rousing group of soldiers, given the strong acting talent that will be portraying them. We're all familiar with period war drama clichés (the rousing speeches, patriotic music, etc.), but, as always, what matters most is how well they're executed. So far, Red Tails looks to do a decent job, in that regard.
Red Tails will soar into theaters around the U.S. on January 20th, 2012.