Monday Morning Critic: Red Tails, Racism and George Lucas – Archer Season 3 Preview – Gina Carano & Haywire

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

One of the more interesting interviews of last week was George Lucas discussing Red Tails with Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” Considering he financed the film himself and probably called in a handful of favors to get Fox to release it with him, as well. The interview itself is remarkable in Lucas’s candor; I’m not a fan of the show but I always give Stewart credit for one thing as interviewer. He always gets remarkable honesty and some great insight from whomever he has on. He might be the best interviewer on any show, too, and thankfully you can watch the interview below.

And you know, I kind of respect Lucas for his candor on the subject. This is a passion project for him and a story that needed to be told as the Tuskegee Airmen don’t get the sort of attention they ought to. Lucas may still be cashing in on Star Wars to a degree that makes Gene Simmons branding of KISS seem reasonable but I can respect him for wanting to recapture the magic of the initial Star Wars films and provide some knowledge as well. I can see where he’s going with the film from how he’s designed it; he wants it to be a modern day serial like Flash Gordon back during his childhood. But one thing kind of bugs me when he sort of implies a bit of token racism involved in no one wanting to make or distribute this film but him.

This is the same guy who created Jar Jar Binks, amongst others, and last time I checked one of the things about Binks is that some people thought he kind of represented a racial stereotype. It was probably just Lucas trying to create another Chewbacca for another generation, something that kids would love, and no one at Lucasfilm has the guts to say “Hey George, this is a horrible idea.” If they did the prequels would’ve been closer to the original trilogy in terms of quality and tone. But Red Tails could represent a return to form for the man who created one of the more enduring trilogies and universes of our time or perhaps any time.

A return to form.

One of the things that tends to get overlooked because of our nostalgia for Star Wars is that the film came together through adversity. A nightmare of a shoot, one no movie insider or box office speculator would’ve thought could turn into one of the biggest franchises ever, Star Wars was the right movie at the right time. While Red Tails may not hit that sort of box office success, if it showcases Lucas the producer finally getting behind something that isn’t outright pandering for action figures and whatnot means a return to some level of quality above the last Indiana Jones film then I think something good is bound to come out of this.

George Lucas is rarely challenged as a film-maker. When he’s not just making a film for the sake of making it, usually good things come out of it. Hopefully the tail of the Tuskegee Airmen brings out something we haven’t seen from the man in a while.

Random Thought of the Week

One of the more unique things that didn’t get as much press was that of Gina Carano and Haywire. More specifically, they changed her voice in post production. Per TMZ:

“The folks behind the movie didn’t like the way Carano sounded when they filmed the flick … so they changed it in post. It’s unclear if they used fancy electronics to alter Gina’s vocal quality, or whether they dubbed in another female voice.”

Is it just me or this is a sign that perhaps people need to lessen their expectations of both Carano and Haywire at this point? I could see if she did that wheeze/grunt thing like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises but Carano doesn’t have the worst voice in a woman. Not memorable but not like nails on a chalkboard, either. We’re not talking like she’s Fran Drescher or something.

But the fact that they changed her voice to the point where it’s noticeable is something. And not a good sign for Haywire.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Archer (Season 3, First Four Episodes)

When I got the second season of Archer to review from my friends at m80, I also got the first four episodes of Archer’s current season which begins this week. You can read my thoughts on the second season here but Archer is one of the few television shows for me that remain what you could call appointment television. So I figured I’d give some thoughts on them because nothing else I’ve seen on DVD this past week is worth a mention.

Archer, for those who have yet to see the show, is an animated series on FX about Sterling Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin), secret agent in the employ of international spy agency ISIS. Based out of New York City, he works for his spymaster mother (Jessica Walter) and bickers with his ex-girlfriend Lana (Aisha Taylor). Joining them are the nebbish comptroller (Chris Parnell), clueless secretary (Judy Greer), portly gossip of an HR manager (Amber Nash) and an assortment of characters who to call off-kilter would be fairly kind. A good comparison would be to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but with a spy agency instead of a bar.

The first four episodes show a series that has found a groove. My only real problem with the first season was that it was “hit and miss” in terms of quality. Some episodes were good and some didn’t quite hit the mark. When it hit it was absolute golden, like the blimp episode. Others … not so much. This was a show that was always interesting but never brilliant regularly enough that a second season wasn’t guaranteed. It was a lot like The League in that it was good but you could see FX cancelling it like it has a handful of shows like Lights Out and Terriers which were in similar spots quality wise.

At the end of the first season the series was getting into a groove that carried the second season to a much stronger one than the first. The third starts off remarkably funny and just hits a groove; I was disappointed that it was only four episodes because by the end of the fourth I wanted more. The early highlight is Archer chewing out an Ocelot in Canada at the end of “The Limited.” Throw in a debut with Burt Reynolds being … well … Burt Reynolds and you have the potential for some remarkably funny stuff.

This season is going to be great.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Haywire – Gina Carano tries to become the next big action star or something

Skip It – They redubbed her lines or changed her voice in post production. Not a good sign.

Red Tails – George Lucas’ produced look at the Tuskegee Airmen.

See It – George Lucas has a lot to redeem himself for cinematically. Getting a great cast of African-American actors for a Flying Leathernecks type tale about World War II heroics is a start.

Underworld: Awakening – Kate Beckinsale still likes the leather, apparently.

See It – The Underworld series is campy action with werewolves and vampires at its most amusing. It’s always interesting on a certain level.

Coriolanus – An adaptation of one Shakepeare’s lesser known plays by Ralph Fiennes. Opens limited after an L.A qualifying run.

See It – Ralph Fiennes has been getting Oscar talk for this fairly consistently and it’s probably worth watching.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @MMCritic_Kubryk.

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