George Lucas has been talking about Red Tails for over two decades. He started dishing on the project around 1988, and even as he was going into production on the prequel trilogy, the title kept popping its head out. Lucas was supposed to direct, then he decided to back seat it as the executive producer. Instead TV journeyman Anthony Hemingway was brought in to direct and shooting commenced in 2009. Nobody gets to rush Lucas, though, so the film is now targeting a January 2012 release. Check out the trailer…

 

The film stars Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., the ubiquitous Bryan Cranston, and a number of The Wire veterans (Andre Royo, Tristan Wilds, Michael B. Jordan and Method Man), and that trailer suggests some of the best aerial combat photography this side of Howard Hughes.

It also looks like a compelling story. Lucas may have taken his lumps on the prequel trilogy – and deservedly so – but he was once one of the great cinema minds, and has always had a good eye for talent and material. Then again, it’s hard to know how “hands on” he was in the production – fandom often gives him more proprietary credit than he perhaps deserves, and a number of executive producers simply cash checks. But this was once one of his passion projects, so it’s hard to imagine him not behind a number of decisions – especially after helming the reshoots.

Regardless of how terrible the prequel films might be, it would be great to see Lucas redeem his reputation. This could be that picture – at least until he finally makes his small independent film he keeps talking about.

Can George Lucas save his reputation?