World War II Video Game

Could the World War 2 dogfight sequences in this trailer for George Lucas‘s Red Tail (1.20.12) look any more fake? What a non-pleasure it’ll be to wallow in visual values and terms that have nothing to do with 1940s verisimilitude and everything to do with Lucas wanting to slick this thing up as much as possible.

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard are the costars.

Lucas has been struggling with this sucker since filming began in March 2009 and reshoots happened in March 2010. Obviously it’s a troubled and ungenuine enterprise. Failure of this sort couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. The director of record is Anthony Hemingway.

From the Wiki page: “Production began in March 2009. Principal photography took place in the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia and England. Lucas took over direction of reshoots, in March 2010 as Hemingway was busy working on episodes of the HBO series Treme. Hemingway will have final approval over the footage.”

51 thoughts on “World War II Video Game

  1. MickTravisMcGee on said:

    World War Ii?

    I thought it was a typo but it appears twice. I don’t get it.

  2. Since there’s already been one other film about the Turkegee Airmen, this seems especially unnecessary.

    And yep, those air battles look terrible.

  3. Seems like Hemingway was hired simply because as a TV director he’d be used to just shooting the script, assembling a rough cut, and then handing it off to the producer to do with it what he pleases.

  4. Biggest warning sign: “Inspired by True Events”

    Translation: we failed to make this based on the actual story and resorted to making shit up to appease 14 year olds who won’t see it anyway.

    This is such a great story, not losing a single plane under their protection and the line about “10 men on each bomber” brings home the fact that most pilots in WW Ii did not dog fight.

    Can’t say the trailer looks bad and remember to take Jeff’s LDS (Lucas Derangement Syndrome) as a grain of salt when it comes to his appraisal of any Lucas property. Also, Lucas is no slouch when it comes to editing action (he just has problems writing for real human beings and he didn’t write this).

    And let’s be thankful this isn’t yet another remake or franchise starter. There’s that HBO version, but Lucas has had this on his “to do” list for over 20 years.

  5. “January 2012 says it all.”

    Yeah, it’s being released in time for Martin Luther King’s birthday, dumbass.

  6. Why is it that historical films about black subject matter are always attacked by a large component of white critics? Even those critics who haven’t seen the films are suspiciously eager to dismiss the films.

  7. Jeff’s just upset that he can’t bash GL anymore for never making good on his “I want to make smaller, more personal films” promise.

    That said, judging by the dialogue in the trailer, the dogfight sequences will be the best thing about this film.

  8. So this is Lucas’ “little movie.” Geez. Talk about being in the Hollywood Bubble for too long. George can’t even perceive of a “little movie” without a budget that would bankrupt most developing nations.

    In the meantime, is that Bryan Cranston in there?

  9. Tom makes an interesting point. I still say huge sections of “Miracle At St. Anna” work like gangbusters and bring up several ideas about honor, cultural identity, and the fallacies of war, but I guess people flaked at the notion of cross-cultural forgiveness. Critics were real assholes to that one.

  10. Since there’s already been one other film about the Turkegee Airmen, this seems especially unnecessary.

    They only need one film?

  11. Did Lucas partner with the History Channel for this movie? Because that CGI looks like it belongs on one of their specials

  12. “So this is Lucas’ “little movie.” Geez. Talk about being in the Hollywood Bubble for too long. George can’t even perceive of a “little movie” without a budget that would bankrupt most developing nations.”

    What the hell? He’s the most budget-conscious big Hollywood producer around. Part of why he wants everything to be greenscreen is so he can do it in-house, at a fraction of the price. The Star Wars prequels had big budgets, but they hardly broke the bank as these things go. Revenge of the Sith – loaded with effects – had a budget of $113 million. Put that next to the budget of ANY FX-happy film these days. It’s his money and he doesn’t love throwing it down a hole. He’s frugal to a fault.

    (Not that this has the official stamp of authenticity, but the Red Tails Wikipedia page has the budget listed at $35 million. Assuming that that’s anywhere near accurate – and based on what he’s been doing, there’s no reason to think it’s not – that’s half of what romcoms cost lately.)

  13. Ponderer: $35 million eh? Maybe I’m just showing my age. It’s just that I still remember quite well Michael Cimino (and UA) going down for squandering $40 mil (in 1980 dollars) on Heaven’s Gate. Those were the days…

  14. I remember that, too. But, y’know, they just canned del Toro’s Mountains of Madness because he couldn’t o it for the basement budget of 150 million. So that’s where things are – Lucas is spending NOTHING by today’s grossly inflated standards. (I think Heaven’s Gate works out to like $300 million dollars by 2010 rates, I believe I remember reading last year.)

  15. ‘Miracle at St. Anna’ is the only completely terrible Spike Lee movie. (Well, since ‘Girl 6′.) In order to get it made, he sacrificed everything that makes his movies interesting *except* the “random scenes about things that the movie isn’t really about” aspect.

  16. What Ponderer said. The last half hour of Episode II is more genuinely exciting than any other blockbuster i’ve seen in the past ten years (with the possible exception of the final aerial battle in Avatar).

  17. While some of the planes do look bad, the dogfights don’t. I’d give it the benefit of the doubt, since it’s clearly unfinished and I’m sure George will push ILM to do the most they can with the budget.

  18. As noted elsewhere, Lucas has been trying to get this movie made for 20 years, not just 2009.

    Also, he is a legendarily frugal filmmaker. Love them or hate them, the Star Wars prequels were a phenomenal return on the money spent for them.

    Sadly, this looks very flat. It’s a bizarre trailer, almost like it belongs on the History Channel.

  19. @ Ponderor

    “I remember that, too. But, y’know, they just canned del Toro’s Mountains of Madness because he couldn’t o it for the basement budget of 150 million. So that’s where things are – Lucas is spending NOTHING by today’s grossly inflated standards. (I think Heaven’s Gate works out to like $300 million dollars by 2010 rates, I believe I remember reading last year.)”

    This makes no sense. The value of a dollar has basically deflated by a factor of two since 1980 so that 40m is about 80m today. Studios incur flops on this level nowadays because you can always recoup some of the budget of a movie that was DOA on theaters through home video, cable rights, etc.

  20. The dollar is not the issue. It’s what the associated production costs would be to produce an equivalent film. Those have exploded FAR beyond the rate of inflation. You used to be able to do a high-end romantic comedy for $3-$5 million in the 70s. You can see that easily hit $70-$110 million now.

    (You can see that, even, in TV production costs. In the 70s, an average drama would cost around $140k an episode. As of the 2007 numbers I have, the average for the same drama – well, for even less content as you’ve gone from 56-minute programs to 41 minute – is around $3 million an ep. That cost spiral is the reason you see the networks programming reality so heavily.)

  21. Yeah, basically, because of the increased value of “home video, cable rights, etc.”, the value of the work performed has gone up and, thus, everybody makes more money.

    That said, UA had other, deeper issues than just ‘Heaven’s Gate’. They desperately *needed* that movie to be a hit, so much so that they threw even more money at it.

  22. Boy, some of those scenes really do scream out Computer Generated Images. It all gives me new respect for what was accomplished in “The Battle of Britain” (1969) and “Tora!,Tora!, Tora!” (1970). The latter used large numbers of old planes, including U.S. trainers modified to resemble Japanese aircraft. The former used real Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes and Spanish Air Force supplied German bombers and fighters (with British engines) plus models and miniatures. I once met a gentleman named Bob Diemert who rebuilt a Hawker Hurricane and flew it in the British film. Done right, however,today’s CGI is a great tool for recreating the past and can replace and fill in for newer buildings and perfectly paint out stunt wires.

  23. I’ve said it over and over and over…..

    The things that ALWAYS give it away as CG, (at least in my opinion), are the shots that are impossible in real life. I’m thinking of “The Aviator”, when Dicaprio’s plane flies right at us, all the way to his face in the camera, or the “following the bomb down the smokestack” shot in “Pearl Harbor”.

    So, the shots of the formations look good here, as do some of the hits. But a lot of it looks really dopey.

    Cool seeing those German Me262 jets, though. Even with Mustangs those things were a bitch. Because they were FREAKING JETS.

    It is a great story to tell, but I don’t trust hardly anyone to make it properly, without resorting to the typical, white-guilt, “proud Black Man”, music swelling, TV-movie histrionics. They were some brave, bad-ass SOB’s.

  24. Has anyone not noticed there isn’t a distributor listed in the trailer? Is Lucas releasing this f*cker himself?

  25. What Ponderer said. The last half hour of Episode II is more genuinely exciting than any other blockbuster i’ve seen in the past ten years (with the possible exception of the final aerial battle in Avatar).

  26. Lucas can’t win with Jeffrey or a lot of other people.

    One day, he’s a huckster who’s only interested in peddling more Star Wars stuff to rabid fans.

    Yet here, he’s accused of being disingenuous. Can we agree that this film is not likely to reach a large audience (due to the subtle racism of most white people not wanting to see films about black people)?

    Lucas has wanted to tell this story for a long time. Yeah, there’s a lot of CGI, but to use actual planes would put the production in the realm of impossibility, or a huge money pit for Lucas. and as said above we know he’s not dumb in that regard. If this movie was starring Will Smith you could make another argument, but this does seem like a passion project.

    It’s just a shame he didn’t direct the whole thing, because he has a great visual sense.

  27. lazarus: “Can we agree that this film is not likely to reach a large audience (due to the subtle racism of most white people not wanting to see films about black people)?”

    No, I just don’t want to see it, because it looks too much like Men of Honor, but with planes. I would’ve actually given St. Anna a shot if it didn’t seem like it was trying to be more than one movie genre. But since we’re going there, I actually liked the script for Django. It’s got the usual irritatiing Quentinisms of pointless tangents which drag out the story, and people who die idiotically. But overall, it’s a lot more linear and to-the-point than his usual work. Though it’s probably gonna disappoint, because Jamie Foxx is not a draw, and the whole bounty hunter angle will make casual viewers think it’s a lazy True Grit ’010 cash-in. But I’m at least curious about the trailer for once, if nothing else.

  28. It looks like standard sentimental hollywood bullshit with big fx, BUT it looks like GREAT sentimental hollywood bullshit with FANTASTIC fx.

    I’m there on opening day.

  29. I’m so exhausted from Lucas-bashing that I can’t get into it anymore.

    I will say that I no longer trust Lucas’ instincts as a filmmaker. You just know that, at some point, Cuba Gooding, Jr., will suddenly fart or step in shit during an impassioned speech.

    However fake the aerial footage looks, it still looks thrilling. I just hope the human elements aren’t as hokey and cliched as they seem in that trailer.

  30. “I will say that I no longer trust Lucas’ instincts as a filmmaker. You just know that, at some point, Cuba Gooding, Jr., will suddenly fart or step in shit during an impassioned speech.”

    I don’t really trust them, either, but this is likely to be in the mold of Young Indiana Jones, which at least tended to play it fairly straight and square.

    Let me phrase this differently. I think Lucas’ instincts are way off when he doesn’t care about what he’s doing. I don’t believe for a minute that he wanted to do the Star Wars prequels. But this, I believe he had a passion for doing. I mean, he’s been documented as having been talking with the pilots since at least the year 2000, and he debuted the trailer at an air show, which is an oddly specific thing to do for a disinterested producer.

  31. ‘Miracle at St. Anna’ is the only completely terrible Spike Lee movie

    “Couldn’t agree more.”

    So people like Crooklyn?

    Ray: I’m surprised Ahmed Best *didn’t* get a part in this film, to be honest. :)

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