Red Tails

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Some great releases hit shelves today with two of the best hailing from the UK. Also out this week are the McG misfire This Means War, the classic TV series Route 66, the hilarious tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails, Daniel Radcliffe’s creepy period piece The Woman In Black, and many more. Bonus points to anyone who can match the three ‘giant’ items from this week’s title above to the three characters/performers below. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Perfect Sense A chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) meet and fall in love just as a strange new disease begins to spread worldwide. People are struck with a strong emotional response immediately followed by the loss of one of their senses. It’s like Contagion but with heart and personality. This is a beautiful film about life, love and what it means to be human. It’s a must-see about mankind’s resilience in the face of loss and devastation. Just be sure to watch it before your vision and hearing fade away.

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Culture Warrior

A week and a half ago, Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails was released. On the surface, the film breathes Hollywood oxygen through-and-through. It’s a WWII era action film that uses its setting for broad family-friendly cheese-banter and CGI-heavy eye candy rather than an opportunity for a sober interrogation of history. Red Tails looks and feels like any Hollywood film geared toward as mass an audience as possible. But the studio that’s distributing it – 20th Century Fox – didn’t pay a dime to produce it. The reported $58 million cost to make Red Tails came solely out of the pocket of producer George Lucas, who had been attempting to get a film about the Tuskegee Airmen made since the early 1990s. He was continually met with resistance from a studio system that saw anything less than the biggest guaranteed appeal to the largest possible audience as a “risk,” including a heroic true story about African-American airmen. The ideology that closed the doors on George Lucas of all people reflects the same business mentality that inspired Jeffrey Katzenberg’s lengthy warning to other studios in a memo written during the same years that Lucas was first trying to get Red Tails financed.  In the memo, Katzenberg warned studios regarding their practice of exponentially centralizing all their resources in a few very expensive projects, resulting in high risk, little room for experimentation, and an increasing reliance on that coveted monolith known as the “mass audience” (which, to make things even more complicated, now includes […]

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The Grey

Once again Liam Neeson stood up to the January graveyard slate of movies, and once again Liam Neeson took charge. The Grey took top honors this weekend, proving that the combination of Neeson and good, adult action is the way to go when you want to make some decent coin. It wasn’t up to the standards of films like Taken ($24.7m opening weekend in 2009) and Unknown ($21.8m opening weekend in 2011). Considering the R rating, the lack of star power outside of Neeson (Dermot Mulroney isn’t what he used to be, and the wolves themselves don’t have a great agent yet), and Joe Carnahan not being the golden boy when it comes to box office returns, The Grey‘s $20m is still a respectable debut. Neeson isn’t losing clout as quickly as Katherine Heigl, whose One For the Money came in at #3 with $11.7m. That’s slightly lower than expectations, but looking at Heigl’s track record, her opening numbers seem to be whittling down further and further. Since Killers in 2010, Heigl’s opening numbers have progressively gotten smaller and smaller, dropping from $15.8m to $14.5m for Life As We Know It in 2010 and $13m for New Year’s Eve early last month. A change of pace for Heigl might be in order, or, when all else fails, the DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD market is not a bad option to take.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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Who is the Nielson Family?

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that is celebrating Monday Funday with what amounts to a bunch of shenanigans. Don’t worry though, we’ve slipped in at least one legitimate piece of news. We’ll get to that shortly. We begin tonight with something found a few weeks ago via Warming Glow, where an image from the Twitter account of Charley Koontz, best known as Fat Neil on Community, shows that Executive Producer Dan Harmon is just as bitter about Community‘s ratings as the rest of us. Seriously, who is the Nielsen Family? In other news, I hope Dan Harmon never changes.

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Underworld Awakening

Vampires are still on the menu when it comes to nice sized box office morsels, as Underworld: Awakening, the fourth film of the franchise, sunk its teeth in and made its mark on the weekend take, the film series, and January openings as a whole. The only of these lists Awakening‘s opening of $25.4m tops is chart for this weekend. That’s a return for the series, whose third entry, Rise of the Lycans, debuted in the #2 spot behind Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and who can really contend with Kevin James? I mean, really?

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In 1995, HBO produced a film called The Tuskegee Airmen chronicling the heroic story of the first squadron of African-American fighter pilots during WWII. The HBO version stars Laurence Fishburne, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, John Lithgow, and Cuba Gooding Jr. I don’t mention this film because of its obscurity, or to thereby prove my film knowledge by pointing it out. I offer this film as favorable alternative to wasting two hours of time on the irrecoverable nosedive that is Red Tails. I’ll say it again, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen is beyond heroic and deserves multiple competent cinematic revisits. These were men who fervently, and with their very lives, defended a country that made policy of oppressing and mistreating them. Not only that, but they also proved to be one of the most effective and successful fighter battalions of the entire war. The larger themes of honor, duty, and sacrifice so inherent and alive in their story are reduced to After School Special platitudes in the George Lucas-produced and Anthony Hemingway-directed Red Tails. Instead of genuine traits, all of the characters occupy loosely-fitting archetypes mined from the most trite of “guys on a mission” tropes. That guy is the hot-headed glory hound, that guy is the goofy one, that guy has a drinking problem, that guy is in love, that guy looks like Denzel Washington. Okay, that last one is actually specific to Red Tails but it no less proves to be that actor’s only marketable skill.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in his favorite Jedi robe, grabs his lightsaber and heads out to see the latest George Lucas movie…and boy does he look stupid. After realizing that Red Tails has nothing to do with the color of creatures’ backsides in the Tattooine cantina, he then dresses in his favorite “Team Jacob” tee shirt to see the latest vampire/werewolf movie. Again, he looks ridiculous. Finally, he sulks into a movie theater showing the new Steven Soderbergh film, falls in love with new action star Gina Carano and is happy.

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The Reject Report - Large

It’s a big weekend here at the Reject Report. Lots of excitement out there competing for you movie dollars. We have vampires battling werewolves, ace pilots taking on the World War II skies, and Gina Carano punching and kicking everything that moves and looking amazing doing it. Throw in the returning champs of Mark Wahlberg and 3-D Disney, and we’re sure to be seeing moneymakers all around town. The vampires have a slight edge, but there could be one or two surprises out there waiting to take the top spot. We could settle this with a flex-off between Wahlberg and Carano, but the demographics might be a bit skewed. Let’s take a look at what each of these movies has to bring to the box office instead.

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It’s already the second day of 2012, which means we’ll all be sober within the next day or two. It also means that we can officially start looking (through blurry eyes) ahead to the future. A future of promise and potential. A future of hope. A future of tingling anticipation that the road stretched out in front of us that leads to the cinema will be paved with gold. Will there be piles of excrement along the way? Of course, but we don’t know how many or how badly they’ll tarnish our yellow-bricked roller coaster ride. All we can see from this far out is the shimmering wonder of movies to come – the vast unknown that looks wonderful (and might just live up to the hype). In past years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), we’ve gone with a fairly arbitrary count of 20-30 movies. This year, we decided to prove that there were 52 movies worth prematurely celebrating (even though what we found were many more). That’s one for every week (even if there are some weeks with a few and some weeks with none at all). Regardless of the number, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Kate Erbland, Allison Loring, Landon Palmer, Brian Salisbury and Cole Abaius have joined forces to remind us all that there are a lot of great movies to hope for this year. Go grab a calendar and pencil in everything that gets your blood pressure up toward unsafe levels. It’s going to be a busy, flick-filled […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly film industry news column dedicated to hacking away with the precision of a drunkenly wielded axe at the world of entertainment news. It has lopped off a few heads in its day, so keep your eye on it. We begin tonight with an image from the special Fright Night event held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin last night. In attendance were McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Anton Yelchin and Dave Franco, who looks just a little bit less stoned than his brother James. They made people drink other people’s blood and whatnot. Photo by Jack Plunkett

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Howard Hughes just pissed himself. Or maybe he pissed in a few hundred bottles and then poured them all over himself, because the trailer for Red Tails is out and the aerial work in it is phenomenal. The George Lucas-produced movie, directed by Treme producer/director Anthony Hemingway tells the story of the Tuskegee Airman (or the 322nd Fighter Group if you want to get technical) as they broke racial boundaries in WWII. It stars Terrance Howard, Bryan Cranston and Cuba Gooding Jr in a role that might launch his career back on track. Regardless, the trailer leads off with its strongest suit and follows it up with a few snippets of dramatic acting:

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Whatever the reason, it looks like George Lucas is taking over on Red Tails while Anthony Hemingway heads back to television.

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George Lucas talks Red Tails and Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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