Red Dawn wasn’t an awful movie and even though the cast, Hemsworth especially, to their best with what they were given, it’s one of those movies that you will forget a day after seeing it. It’s not so bad it’s good and it’s not so good that you’ll want to boast about it to friends or family. I’m not entirely against remakes particularly if it’s remaking something that wasn’t that great to begin with but make it worthwhile and there the filmmakers failed the most.
Genre(s): Action, Suspense/Thriller
Fox | PG13 – 93 min. – $39.99 | March 5, 2013
Directed by: Dan Bradley
Writer(s): Kevin Reynolds and John Milius (original screenplay), Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore (screenplay)
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Theatrical Release Date: November 21, 2012
Features: DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 38.0 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
Often times remakes are unnecessary but in the case of Red Dawn… it’s pretty much par for the course and wasn’t needed. However, it’s not a terrible movie and is a time waster. Plus, it’s not as if it’s a remake of a classic. Sure, the 1984 original is better but let’s not act like it was an untouchable masterpiece a la Apocalypse Now.
The updated story, set in Spokane, Washington centers on Marine Jed Eckert (CHRIS HEMSWORTH) home on leave, visiting his father, Tom (BRETT CULLEN) and brother Matt (JOSH PECK) for the first time in years since the death of their mother, thus leading to friction between the siblings. Matt the high school star quarterback and, in clichéd fashion, is dating a cheerleader named Erica (ISABEL LUCAS). Jed is the meantime gets reacquainted with friends including Toni (ADRIANNE PALICKI), a woman from his childhood who had a crush on him and of course sparks early on fly between the two.
With their father on night duty, the brothers sleep at home and awaken the next morning to explosions and commotion going on outside. For some reason it’s brother Matt who is immediately awaken – one would assume the Marine would be alerted to such commotion – but when Jed wakes up, the two run outside to find hundreds upon thousands of paratroopers along with plans overhead as an invasion has begun. After some nifty explosions, including a plan crashing into the house next door, Matt and Jed make haste to escape as chaos ensues on the streets as the troops, from North Korea, attempt to take control.
The Eckert brothers manage to elude them but not before encountering what is apparent the man in charge of the region named Captain Cho (WILL YUN LEE) who is none too impressed with the escape attempt. Others join the Eckert’s in the back of their truck as well as another vehicle who follows behind as they witness some citizens being round up by North Korean troops, including Erica.
The convoy make their way to a remote cabin owned by the Eckert’s and with Jed taking control, asks the others to scour for supplies as they try to settle in, gather weapons. The group, along with Matt and Jed, include: Robert (JOSH HUTCHERSON), the aforementioned Toni Walsh, Daryl (CONNOR CRUISE), Danny (Edwin Hodge), Julie (ALYSSA DIAZ), Greg (JULIAN ALCARAZ) amongst a couple other forgettable characters, one of whom will butt heads with Jed and leaves during the night. Jed’s instincts kick in and know that the dude is going to nark on them which he does leading Cho to the cabin along with Tom Eckert as well as Daryl’s dad who happens to be the town mayor. While the mayor pleads for them to surrender, Tom wants them to fight and saying so, costs him his life.
With their hideout blown and the area surrounded by North Koreans, the group re-bands and decides to fight and take back their town. Jed does his best to teach them weapons and other skills he learned in the military and they come up with a tactical strategy which includes making and using improvised explosive devices causing chaos amongst the hierarchy’s and giving hope to the masses under the name “Wolverines”.
Alright, I’ll admit up front that Red Dawn wasn’t a particularly bad film. It provided some entertainment value and although the writing, from Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye, Disturbia, The Last House on the Left remake) and Jeremy Passmore (The Cleaner), wasn’t the best and certainly the characters were mostly paper-thin and un-relatable, the actors do their best with a limited canvas. Chris Hemsworth does a fine job in the lead role leading the band of misfits and making for a half-believable leader. Josh Peck is a bit weak as the brother and Josh Hutcherson is quite undesirable, I mean, I couldn’t tell you one thing about his character. For the female roles, although fairly non-descript, Adrianne Palicki and Isabel Lucas hold their own well enough.
It should be noted that in the cases of Hemsworth and Hutcherson, this movie was filmed in 2009, a few years before both gained box office success in Thor/The Avengers and The Hunger Games.
Lastly, Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues his downslide since Watchmen (in terms of quality work) in the thankless cameo-esque role as a military man with two others who had come to the region seeking help from the Wolverines who had made great strides going up against the North Koreans. I suppose his inclusion brought some weight to the project but it’s relatively limited.
Red Dawn was directed by Dan Bradley making his feature film debut after working in the stunt department and second unit directing including most recently The Bourne Legacy and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (amongst many others). Looking over his resume, there is some quality work so it would seem this would be a fine stepping stone but the problem is not only is the writing subpar but the concept is ridiculous and outlandish.
All that said, I still feel the movie received harsher treatment because it’s a remake of what some consider a 1980s classic. On its own, it is forgettable with one-dimensional characters and a plot which defines the term suspension of disbelief. However, it is an OK time waster though this is hardly a movie I’ll be revisiting any time soon. For what he had to work with, Chris Hemsworth shows that quality that made him a star and the right fit for Thor. Although this is not a noteworthy performance, he does give it his best and manages to keep the project from falling completely apart.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0/5
Strangely, even given its box office disappointment, this did not come with any features. The only thing included is a DVD/Digital Copy disc.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Fox distributes Red Dawn on Blu-ray, presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, with a fine looking 1080p high-definition transfer. It’s not too surprising that a new release would feature excellent detail levels but here there’s a fine amount of natural noise and film grain, the colors look well balanced and there’s no noticeable flaws. If you’ve owned any other Fox releases from the past few years, this more or less matches those movies.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is more than capable in handling the numerous action scenes as well as the quieter, more dialogue-driven moments. The surrounds are expansive during explosions and gunfire but not entirely immersive with some of the action being contained in the center channel. That being said, it’s a fine lossless HD track and is satisfying for in-home theaters.
OVERALL – 1.75/5
Overall, Red Dawn wasn’t an awful movie and even though the cast, Hemsworth especially, to their best with what they were given, it’s one of those movies that you will forget a day after seeing it. It’s not so bad it’s good and it’s not so good that you’ll want to boast about it to friends or family. I’m not entirely against remakes particularly if it’s remaking something that wasn’t that great to begin with but make it worthwhile and there the filmmakers failed the most. RD was an unnecessary remake that I’m sure the studio had hoped to make into a lucrative franchise.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.