He's one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood, and his films have gone on to become some of the most important in the history of the medium. But for all of the success that George Lucas has enjoyed over the past 35 years, there are still lingering questions about his ability as a filmmaker. Taken as a whole, there are really only two great Star Wars movies (Episodes IV and V), with two others being decent (Episodes III and VI), and two others being completely awful (Episodes I and II). Lucas only directed four of them, and, more often than not, he was in charge of the more dreadful ones.  

However, for years Lucas has been planning a prestige picture that he hopes will bring him back to prominence and showoff his talents as a storyteller. Red Tails is based on the true story of the Tuskegee airmen from WWII, a battalion of African American pilots that valiantly fought for America during a time of overwhelming racism and prejudice. Produced and conceived by Lucas himself, Red Tails is directed by Anthony Hemmingway (who directed several episodes of The Wire, amongst other HBO favorites) and touts an ensemble cast that includes Terrence “I used to be War Machine” Howard, Ne-Yo, Cuba Gooding Jr., Bryan Cranston, Tristan Wilds, Method Man, and a slew of others.

The aerial battles shown in the trailer look pretty legit, no doubt about it, and there's a solid cast at work here and it seems like a noble effort on all fronts. Reports have been published about Lucas interviewing the surviving Tuskegee airmen and having access to their mission logbooks, so it does seem like the Flannel one has gone to great lengths to present an authentic product. But Lucas has gotten our anticipation up before and provided little payoff.

Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not first-time feature director Hemmingway can accurately portray Lucas’ lofty ideas, and if the reshoots that Lucas directed feature any jive-talking aliens or a stuffed elephant playing the keyboards.

If all the stars align, and Lucas regains his sanity, then we could be in for a pretty decent WWII flick when Red Tails gets released on January 20, 2012.

[Via Yahoo! Movies]