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Movie Review: Red Dawn

November 23, 2012
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I feel like I’ve been writing the sentence, “I’m not sure whether the world was clamoring for a x remake…” and that’s probably more due to my utter lack of creativity than anything else. I’m sure most people in my generation, who have seen the original Red Dawn, already dislike the movie, so I feel the need to defend it somewhat, or at least point out some good things it does well. Though I’m more interested in whether John Milius, the writer/director of the original film, will hunt down and kill the makers of this film, not because it doesn’t do the original justice, but because his keen, feral senses no doubt have recognized them as competition, and to protect his domain, he must slaughter and eat any trespassers. And that would be an awesome movie. I already know who would play John Milius.

Anyway, Red Dawn. I’m not sure whether the world was clamoring for a Red Dawn remake, but this one is pretty entertaining. The Red Scare is all but over, and with Albania being the only place left to get furious communist thought, the baddies are transformed from the Russians into the North Koreans, which strangely works, as the higher-ups in North Korea seem like just the right kind of nuts to try something like invading the US.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In 20?? the town of Spokane, Washington was invaded by North Korean paratroopers for injustices they didn’t commit. The Eckert brothers, Matt (Josh Peck) and Jed (Chris Hemsworth), along with a rag-tag gang of high-school footballers, escape to a cabin just outside of town. Today, still wanted by the North Korean prefect of the town (Will Yun Lee) they survive as guerrillas of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…the WOLVERINES!

The premise is kind of dated, but for all its silliness, watching the group plot and plan and carry out their attacks is fun, and although the running time is listed as 114 minutes, it doesn’t feel like it. Hemsworth is the headliner, and he does well as an ex-marine leading them all. It’s a good excuse for allowing the Wolverines to survive, and there’s the interesting idea of the rest of the town surreptitiously helping the group; even the idea of another group of marines joining their forces is played well, and the reason provided for how North Korea could actually invade. They’re not really needed at all, but their inclusion is not dwelt on.

Where the film does falter, however, is in the familial tension between Matt and Jed, and Jed’s pining for his captured girlfriend. This is a film built on adrenaline and nonsense, and stopping every 20 minutes or so for periodic shots of seriousness drags the pace to a standstill. We don’t need it, and for the time it takes up, we could do with a few more raids on the town. Please?

It’s a good diversion for the weekend, but, as with most remakes, you might as well watch the original, but you won’t be bored at the theatre either.

Rating 3/5

Red Dawn is rated PG-13. Directed by Dan Bradley. Written by Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore, Based on the movie Red Dawn, written and directed by John Milius. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

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