Written by / 12/13/2012 / 1 Comment / , , ,

RED DAWN REMAKE

year: 2012 cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck rating: *
In the 1984 John Milius cult film, a group of high schoolers band together to protect their community (within their country) from an invading Communist army, and the kids called themselves Wolverines after earning the title. In this muddled remake, the small town youngsters – already cheering on their local football team with the same name – become Green Beret types extremely fast, occurring through a few rushed montage sequences.

They receive their cram sessions care-of Chris Hemsworth. Unlike Patrick Swayze’s woodsy jock in the original, our primary hero is a War vet returning home where his sulky little brother doesn’t have a nice word to say. Enter Josh Peck’s passive Matt, who has a girlfriend he loves more than anything while Hemsworth, as the muscular Jed, only knows how to fight and survive…

But now we’re skipping ahead – befitting a movie that cuts quickly to the chase:

During the opening credits we get a splash of news reports predicting very bad things caused by the economy, terrorists and other current events… The writers obviously wanted the war raging fast so target audiences (teens and nostalgic adults) won’t get antsy.

The best scene in the 1984 original, catapulting the reality of invasion to the oblivious students, has a school teacher walking out to face a group of mysterious skydivers landing outside a classroom... Here a bunch of warplanes (one crashing into a house) blow the town to smithereens, which is as suspenseful as watching a friend play a video game.

While the frantic camera continuously shakes and shudders, the Wolverines go in and out of hiding and are never sure what they’re hiding from or fighting against… The North Koreans are the attackers with a few Russians present. And there are no decent villains except one Korean soldier with a permanent glare. 

Eventually, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and two other Marines join the cause. Unlike Powers Booth’s maverick pilot in the original, teaching the kids a thing or two about real warfare, there’s no reason for the adults to be around – especially since Jed’s a veteran already – other than to marvel at the capability of the youngsters and providing more ammo.

There are a few “missions,” the most important taking place in a multilevel building i.e. the enemy’s makeshift Base of Operations, with lots of running around providing little suspense. Although there’s an unpredictable “twist” that does successfully shake things up, after this happens you’ll wonder: Why continue the story at all? 

The worst aspect of this pointless sequel aren’t lines like “Marines don’t die – they go to hell and regroup” but the undeveloped characters that seem to have just met even though they’ve grown up in the same town all their lives. With an exception of the two leads, none of the kids really stand out: what's needed is a C. Thomas Howell type slowly becoming a Gung Ho psychopath, or women with more purpose than being eye-candy love interests. 

Sure, the patriotic original can be corny and downright preposterous, but the kids have a deep connection with each other, before and after the takeover, making even the silly stuff count.
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1 comment:

  1. The original was a classic. When the kids are in the classroom and the sea of paratroopers are drifting down from the sky - almost an iconic image in my mind for the 1980's.

    A friend of mine was reminding me the other day that he had watched Red Dawn repeatedly back then - because whenever he would come over to my house I was watching it on cable tv.

    Thank you for taking a bullet for the team by seeing this and writing the review sir. As always I enjoy them immensely.

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