1:56 pm - 11/16/2012

Early Review of Red Dawn

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Remakes are a risky business, especially when it comes to such a, uh, beloved (and we use the term loosely) film as Red Dawn. It’s a crown jewel from that short period in the 80s when every flick seemed to follow the mantra, “F*ck yes, America!”
The Patrick Swayze “classic” really wasn’t a very good movie by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, it’s a great film to accompany a 12-pack on Sunday afternoon with your buddies, but it’s just so incredibly outdated. Still, when they announced the new Red Dawn, I was hesitant to embrace the idea, since I am, after all, a red-blooded American male. This is probably why I hate myself a little for liking the remake so damn much.

Everything you might have loved about the original is still here in all its glory. Chris Hemsworth (better known these days as Thor) takes over the Swayze role, only this time he’s a marine on leave visiting his dad (Brett Cullen) and brother (Josh Peck), when the North Koreans decide to attack. It’s a small change, but it makes so much more sense as he gathers a bunch of random high school students (including Josh Hutcherson, whom the ladies just love since The Hunger Games). The story revolves around this group of freedom fighters, under their high school mascot’s moniker – the Wolverines – utilizing guerrilla tactics to create chaos and destroy the Koreans’ moral.
The story is just as ridiculous as the original, but this time around, it seems a little more grounded as the Wolverines take on the tactics that Hemsworth learned during his tour in Iraq. This, of course, evokes the very interesting idea that one side’s freedom fighter is the other side’s terrorist, surprising for a movie that seems so pro-America to bring up (Hemsworth at one point even says, “Now they’re the bad guys”), but one that really adds to the stakes for the characters.
Despite this, though, the movie makes a point of showing just how much the townspeople support the Wolverines, hiding them from troops and helping them escape. While these scenes are not a dominant focus of the film (this is a much more action-centric take than the original), it goes a long way in reminding the audience that these are the good guys.

This time around, Red Dawn takes a much more down-and-dirty approach to warfare, thanks to stuntman-turned-director Dan Bradley. People die in this film, and others are sacrificed. When one member of the Wolverines comments that he misses the game Modern Warfare, another reminds them that they are living its tactics. The film is less about them bravely charging into battle and defeating their enemies than about them hiding in the shadows and playing “dirty.” This is not a film that tries to glamorize war.
That being said, it’s still filled with plenty of shootouts (especially when Jeffery Dean Morgan meets up with the teens) and explosions that even Michael Bay would enjoy. However, Bradley’s inexperience behind the camera shows when he resorts to quick cuts and shaky camerawork, which mainly serves to stifle the action sequences, especially during the obligatory fistfight between Hemsworth and Korean head honcho Will Yun Lee. At times it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going until the dust has settled, which might be great to simulate the chaos of battle, but really sucks for moviegoers trying to root for the heroes.

Still, Red Dawn is an action flick, which means that no one is really expected to give a performance that will bring audiences to tears. That being said, Hemsworth does what he does best as the hero of the film, delivering a stirring speech or two to call his troops to arms. Morgan is a breath of fresh air when he enters during the third act to shake up the group dynamic of the characters, because let’s face it, they all wear their motivations on their sleeves.
However, the most confusing thing about Red Dawn is why Hutcherson is playing a supporting character and not Hemsworth’s brother. Peck just seems too sniveling and pathetic for anyone to picture as Thor’s younger brother, and the two look nothing alike. Still, at least Josh is there to draw the audience’s eye away from this bizarre casting choice. He is even beginning to seem like he’s going to make the transition from child actor to big-boy roles.
Red Dawn is one of the best remakes I’ve seen (no, I’m not counting adaptations of foreign films on that list). It’s no True Grit, but it gets the job done and improves on the original. I’m sure there will be plenty of crotchety old men out there saying it’s a travesty, but that’s more out of principal than anything else. I certainly had no intentions of liking it when the opening credits started rolling, but it proved me wrong. Trust me on this: Red Dawn is worth the price of admission even despite its shortcomings. It’s a fun movie that might be even better in two years when it’s being played on AMC every other weekend.

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thecosmickid 16th-Nov-2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Anyone seen Lincoln yet? Thoughts? I'm supposed to see it tonight...
kalie_m 16th-Nov-2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
I've heard it's great if you are white and don't care about history.
thecosmickid 16th-Nov-2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
Wow, okay, care to elaborate?
robertsbox_xo 16th-Nov-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
it's at 30% on rotten tomatoes oops
wegoturdog 16th-Nov-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
I really liked this movie .. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Never saw the original so I can't say much about that, but I did really like it!
lunaserenade 16th-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
I really liked it too. I was surprised.
imnotasquirrel 16th-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
are u from a red state, jw.
wegoturdog 16th-Nov-2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
I don't see how that has anything at all to do with my opinion of a movie. I don't have a political affiliation and my 'state' does not reflect my views. Wtf?
kalie_m 16th-Nov-2012 07:41 pm (UTC)
ms_mmelissa 16th-Nov-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
love_keiko 16th-Nov-2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
_xxtom 16th-Nov-2012 08:13 pm (UTC)
larrylurker 16th-Nov-2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
Trust me on this: Red Dawn is worth the price of admission even despite its shortcomings.


kevonmartini10 16th-Nov-2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
lol was this post locked for a second?
sodenoshirayuki 16th-Nov-2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
yeah lol
lunaserenade 16th-Nov-2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
Whoops. I'm half asleep.
marywebgirl 16th-Nov-2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
I was wondering who the enemy would be in this. I think it would have been much more interesting if it was some sort of right wing coup (like in The Handmaid's Tale).
winniechili 16th-Nov-2012 07:32 pm (UTC)
Originally the "enemy" were the Chinese, but then they freaked out that *gasp* Chinese people might not like that so they changed everything to North Korean. Because a country full of impoverished people that can't even launch one rocket is totally capable of staging a land invasion of America.
mandramoddle 16th-Nov-2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine saw it a few weeks ago and said it was really good. I probably won't watch until it's on Netflix though.
bellwetherr 16th-Nov-2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
lol i will totally see this. i love mindless action films.
thrace_ 16th-Nov-2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I'm torn between wanting to go see this film because I like simple action flicks and hating it on principle because all my pro-gun friends on facebook are already citing this as a reason why they should be allowed to have an arsenal of weapons and also Obama is going to murder them in their sleep with their own guns.

winniechili 16th-Nov-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Well considering the original is the ultimate anti-communist propaganda movie, that's not surprising.
theblackwidow 16th-Nov-2012 07:29 pm (UTC)
Hrmrmmrm. I am very liberal and anti-gun but I still want to see it because Hemsworth. I'll probably see it at the $2 theatre.
anolinde 16th-Nov-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
Meh, just ignore your friends and watch it for Chris Hemsworth. =D
d00ditsemily 16th-Nov-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
Winnie, chill.
winniechili 16th-Nov-2012 07:41 pm (UTC)
hah I deleted it because I realized I was coming off unusually pressed, but I see what you did there.
blahblahcakes64 16th-Nov-2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
I know, right?! And the spelling errors and making me cringe!

'out of principal'

'the Koreans' moral'

brb barfing
prophecypro 16th-Nov-2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
Its got Adrienne Palacki so I'm down.
imnotasquirrel 16th-Nov-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
it seems a little more grounded

srsly? we're talking about a movie based on the premise that north korea would invade the us. come on, now.

also, let's not forget this lovely email exchange from the movie's producer:

I know there is a lot of interest and questions as to the changes announced regarding Red Dawn. 

This movie has been rebooted because the filmmakers all love the original movie. The experience of seeing Red Dawn as a young boy in the middle of a Cold War, was life changing for me and a generation. I assure you that everyone involved with the reboot is keenly aware of the responsibility of delivering a movie that can stand eye to eye with the original.

The changes made to Red Dawn in the last few weeks were made in consultation with military think tanks and people that specialize in game theory. Really smart people that spend their days constructing doomsday scenarios for our military and government. The type of people that know the limitations of the North Korean military. The type of people that can project a series of events that could lead to some very scary things happening to our Country. I can assure you, we listened well to those people, especially with regards to the capability of the North Korean military.

Red Dawn isn’t for everyone. So, if you are interested in seeing a movie filled with preachy political discussions - Red Dawn ain’t for you. If you love movies in which Americans are the bad guys - Red Dawn ain’t for you. If you get emotional watching daytime television - Red Dawn ain’t for you. If you’re a vegetarian - Red Dawn probably ain’t for you.

But! If you like meat with your potatoes, muscle cars that roar, tanks, guns and things blowing the fuck up by American’s kicking some Commie ass – then we have something special coming your way.


Tripp Vinson

this dude sounds like a peach.
winniechili 16th-Nov-2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Is that for real? :|
imnotasquirrel 16th-Nov-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
yes sadly

basically this movie feeds into every xenophobic jingoistic fantasy. i get wanting to see it because of a particular actor but if you like the movie on its own grounds....
dirtyplebeian 16th-Nov-2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
Australians* kicking some Commie ass
fight4thislove 16th-Nov-2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
The movie is a good popcorn, brainless fun flick but going further than that, lol it's not any better than Battleship or any of the Transformers films.

Edited at 2012-11-16 07:35 pm (UTC)
stylistic4u 17th-Nov-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
Battleship was SHIT.
ms_mmelissa 16th-Nov-2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Isn't this that weird racist movie where the few poc characters all wind up dead and the evil Korean villain is played by an American?

imnotasquirrel 16th-Nov-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)

and where the villains were originally going to be chinese, but they changed it to north korean in post-production by changing the flags and shit. bc all asians are alike anyway.
ms_mmelissa 16th-Nov-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
Embarrassing. Hope it flops like it deserves to.
starchain 16th-Nov-2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
It has Thor in it.
I want Thor in every movie.
monpochi 17th-Nov-2012 01:30 am (UTC)


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