There’s nothing like two hours of hokey, old-fashioned, and exciting entertainment. Ridden with clichés and one-dimensional characters, big budget blockbusters are the foundation of American entertainment. I mean, what would we do if pretentious art films were the only things hitting the megaplex? You know what we would do? We would poke our freaking eyes out, and beg people like Spielberg and Lucas and Jackson to just get back behind the director’s chair, and give us the goods. But not Michael Bay. No, Michael Bay is on a permanent time out after the Transformers sequels.
George Lucas announced his retirement from big budget filmmaking, saying that he’ll be going out with Red Tails, a fictionalized telling of the Tuskegee airmen, the first all African-American pilot group. Serving as Executive Producer for the project, it was a story that Lucas was very eager to tell. He felt that the Tuskegee pilots were extremely underappreciated and wanted to bring their story to life in the most entertaining way possible. Now, in 2012, he’s achieved that goal, finally releasing Red Tails after twenty-odd years in production.
Red Tails’ main pilots are ladies’ man, Lightning (David Oyelowo), the “best pilot in the whole damn world”, Joker (Elijah Kelley), Junior (Tristan Wilds), and their leader, Easy (Nate Parker). Together, they make up the most talented and fiercest pilots in the military, but because they’re colored, they’re forced to do minuscule surveillance jobs where no enemies have been spotted for months, as they aren’t trusted to handle real combat due to the belief that they have “inferior mental capacity” to the other pilots.
The group’s leaders, Major Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.), and Colonel AJ Bullard (Terrence Howard), land them a mission that involves escorting bombers across enemy territory. They nail it with no US casualties which catapults their status into the top air league in the entire military.
TV director Anthony Hemingway makes his feature film debut with Red Tails, and the directing is definitely the first thing I want to talk about, because it’s f***ing awesome. Granted, this is one of the most heavily produced movies you’ll ever see, but it’s damn cool to look at, and the CGI is quite realistic. The dogfight scenes are breathtaking, and Hemingway makes use of steady cam, immersing us in the action instead of flip-flopping the camera every which way so that we see nothing.
The screenplay is the definition of cheesy, but I really didn’t care because the corny one-liners and unrealistic dialogue is just a part of what makes Red Tails the old-fashioned action fest that it is. In fact, the film borders on Chaos Cinema, with the extended dogfight scenes and thin plot, but it’s Chaos Cinema done right. Unlike 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Red Tails know how to balance action and plot well enough to the point where the resulting product actually comes off as a movie and not a commercial for explosives.
I had an amazing time watching Red Tails. It’s a fun, family friendly movie that can appeal to all ages, races, genders, and anything else you can think of. It’s an inspiring tale that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously and being a George Lucas skeptic, I was surprisingly impressed by this movie’s capacity to entertain and inspire all at the same time, while still not losing its edge. The surprisingly bad reviews can be called “racism”, but I call it opinion, and by definition, Red Tails isn’t necessarily a “good movie”, but it’s an extremely fun one to watch, and isn’t that all we really need sometimes?
Today around 8:30 am Eastern time, the 2012 Academy Award Nominations were announced by the lovely Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique Jr.) and some old guy I did not want to research his name or title on.
With that, talking to the good Dr. Kronner, I think on my end, it basically ended in a few shrugs. He was bit more incensed because his beloved Fast Five[LIES!] was not nominated because the Academy does not recognize ‘general public movies’. The list is typical with the favorites (The Artist, The Descendants) while a few pleasant surprises entered in (seriously, go watch A Better Life and Demián Bichir’s performance) and then a few what-whats?! (see: 9/11 movie I refuse to mention).
Martin Scorcese’s Hugo leads the way with 11 noms, followed by the movie no one wants the see that everyone should see – The Artist with 10 nominations. I am sure there will be a post on what we all thing got snubbed (where the crap is Drive?), and who does not belong (according to the good Doctor, Bridesmaids doesn’t deserve to be part of the party, so debate away) so I will not go into major detail about those. All I know is there is a reason for the comments section below so have it…
With that, I have your nominees for the 2012 Oscars on February 26th via EW because I like copy & paste:
Okay, you should all know the drill by now. Don’t go into a Transformers movie with some sort of hope that it will change your life, or that you’ll glean some sort of valuable information after viewing it. Yes, by now we should all realize that there are good robots called Autobots, and bad robots called Decepticons. And more often than not these robo-factions are beating the bionic shit out of one another…brutally. That fact resonates loudly in this latest and last (at least according to Bay) installment of the franchise. I was actually ready for it to be over, but after this one it leaves me strangely wanting more.
So in case you haven’t seen the widely marketed trailer for the film, there is another cover-up/slash conspiracy in our government regarding the robots in disguise. The moon mission back in 1969? Just an excuse for our government to investigate a crashed transformer ship on the moon’s surface. This ship, known as the Ark, was an Autobot vessel carrying not only their leader – Sentinel Prime, but a technology that could somehow save Cybertron. I’m going to refrain from spoiling everything in this review, so if you want to know who lives and who dies then too bad!
What ensues (Or so it seems) is a race against time to find the technology and Sentinel Prime on the moon before the Decepticons do. It’s a little more complex than that but I’ll just say that the first hour and half set up the final hour worth of non stop action.
Let’s start off with what I liked about the transformer characters in the movie, and I’ll follow it up with those I hated because you know that was inevitable. On the Decepticon side there were a couple of newcomers. Laser Beak, Soundwave’s minion, was actually pretty creepy and cool – unlike Frenzy from the first movie. Soundwave by the way is no longer a satellite in orbit like in part two, he’s a car, but I won’t spoil you with which one he is. Shockwave is our next contestant who, while bad-ass, plays almost no role except to be a complete a-hole. That’s fine with me by the way. Megatron and Starscream return, with Megatron looking extra menacing with half his face missing and robotic spiders crawling in and out of his head. I will let slip to you that the Decepticons are very deceptive (Yes I wrote that.) in this movie and the story is a step above that of Revenge of the Fallen which isn’t saying much, but it’s acceptable.
Now onto the Autobots. Sentinel Prime is superbly voiced by Leonard Nimoy (who also played Galvatron in the 80’s animated film.) and was the leader of the Autobots before the role was handed down to Optimus. Optimus is back and better than ever, his truck trailer now tagging along to transform into a mobile armory for him. Ironhide, Ratchet, Sideswipe and Bumblebee all return, but there are also a few new Autobots gracing the screen this time. Dino is an almost ninja like Autobot, using multiple blades to fight his enemies. Que, is basically an homage to the James Bond movies, and sort of serves as the movie’s Wheeljack, supplying the humans and fellow Autobots with weapons. I actually completely hated how his head looked like the skull of a balding old man with gray hair sticking out of the sides….epic fail. The Wreckers are a group of Autobots who maintain their only transportation off of Earth: Top Spin, Leadfoot and Roadbuster. Though one is completely silent, the other two have thick Scottish accents which I was digging. They even transformed into heavily weaponized Impala race cars!
The only other two Autobots were Wheelie (from part 2) and Brains, who were so inconsequential that I don’t even need to cover them. Actually Mr. Bay, I’d like to claim my 25 grand for spotting the Twins in this movie because you just replaced two annoying robots with another set! Pay up!
Enough about robots though, let’s get to our human characters. Shia LeBeouf is back as our leading man Sam Witwicky (For his last stint as the character supposedly), who is struggling to find a job after college, but somehow has no problem struggling to find amazingly hot supermodel girlfriends. After Mikayla dumped him, Sam managed to snag Carly who is an English gal and looks like an effin’ Victoria’s Secret model! Oh wait, I forgot that she actually is a Victoria’s Secret model in real life! For someone just getting into acting, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley works on screen just as well if not better than Megan Fox. I don’t think at one point I ever once thought of Megan Fox since the first shot we are treated to is of Whiteley’s very gifted behind. You’ve done it again Michael Bay!
But back to Shia. He’s back and still goofy as ever, but in the likeable way, not in the Jar Jar Binks way. Sam’s parents were back, but it was thankfully brief this time instead of the overload we received in Revenge of the Fallen. The rest of the gang is in rare form with Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Epps) and John Turturro (Simmons) returning. Unfortunately in regards to the roles of John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Ken Jeong and Alan Tudyk they made the movie’s cast seem a bit bloated. Many of their roles, though funny, were ultimately unnecessary. At this point you may ask why I left out our boy Patrick Dempsey. The reason I did that was because I thought his character added a new element to the movies that was missing. *SPOILER INCOMING*
In the prequel book to Revenge of the Fallen (The Veiled Threat by Alan Dean Foster) Starscream employed the forces of African rebels and a corrupt Italian businessman in his battle against the Autobots while Megatron was gone. So it was good to finally see a group of humans siding with who they see as the winning side in the Decepticons, and like Dempsey’s character Dylan Gould says at one point –“You think they gave me a choice?” And I have to admit as a non Patrick Dempsey fan, he played the role of the douche bag to perfection.
So overall I have to give Dark of the Moon 3 out of 5 grizzlies.
Bay has definitely made up for the monstrosity that was Revenge of the Fallen, but just barely. The visuals were stunning, especially the Decepticon assault on Chicago. It seemed like Bay did everything for that whole segment except flash a message across the screen that said –“Suck it Skyline and Battle: LA!” It would truly seem like this is the last of the Transformers franchise under Bay because there was a whole lot of robotic death going on, but I’m sure they could come up with something for another installment.
The storyline wasn’t as terrible as Revenge of the Fallen, even though the whole ‘Pillar’ aspect seemed to echo the process of the sun harvester from the last movie. All I can say is at least they had a few twists and turns along the way. The cast was great, even the notable faces who didn’t have a whole lot to do. It makes me think most of them lost a bet to Bay and had to be in his next transformers movie. I will definitely look forward to seeing Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in more movies to come. She was as hot as Megan Fox (if not hotter) but was not a terrible actress. I almost can’t think of any English actors who suck unless they are doing an American accent in a movie. (You’re terrible Bale!) So what did everyone else think of the movie? An improvement at least? Or was it just a special effects laden piece of dog crap?