Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
George Lucas has been trying to produce this harrowing tale of The Tuskegee Airmen since 1988. He went through multiple directors and actors and writers attempting to do justice to some of America’s unsung heroes. When dealing with WWII air combat, it’s easy to fall into unrealistic digital effects without heart or realism. Lucas is no stranger to letting his effects take over the story – take a look at his “Star Wars” prequels for evidence. There is also the “Flyboys” hangover problem – “Flyboys” was a heavy-handed, 2006 film with little-to-no redeeming attributes. So did Lucas pull together a team that was able to make a modern classic about wartime aviation? Unfortunately, no. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. lead a cast of semi-seasoned actors and they try so hard to make it work but the writing is stale and has been covered with more depth and humanity in “The Tuskegee Airmen” in 1995. Props to Lucas for providing the cool dogfights but the dialogue during all the action is a mess. It’s a shame but “Red Tails” never takes off – pass.
Let’s preempt this review by saying, we in the recliner watch tons of movies and therefore appreciate when filmmakers experiment. Whether it be writing or setting or direction – as long as they stay on pace and tell a story, we’ll give it a chance. In this film, they take an actor, throw him in a trunk and torture him for an hour-and-a -alf. It’s reminiscent of 2010’s “Buried,” starring Ryan Reynolds, only there’s more political intrigue and Reynolds is replaced with Jack Nicholson impersonator, Stephen Dorff. Let’s be fair – some of Dorff’s reactions and facial impressions may resemble Nicholson’s but he’s done credible work and championed more than a couple indie films. Dorff rocks the truck in this tight thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end. Hit the gas on “Brake” – it’s worth a watch.
The “American Pie” franchise has become, like “National Lampoon,” a brand for silly dude comedies about getting drunk and laid. But when it started out in 1999 with “American Pie,” it was about the awkwardness of growing up. It was about making the best out of your most embarrassing moment. The majority of the original cast delivered two sequels, two years apart then the series turned into loud mush, looking for an opportunity to make love to baked goods. Here again, the original cast returns for the fourth film chronicling these characters’ lives. This time it’s their 10-year high school reunion, coming together at different stations in life – some married, some not, some leading dead-end lives, some not. If you’ve followed these movies, you’ll start thinking back to the first one and what you were doing in ‘99. Even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy it. Yes, it’s raunchy and silly but these actors know these characters and they seem to enjoy breathing life into them. And just think, all this started with a penis in a pie – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge