Red Dawn Remake Review

Dictionary.com defines the word DEPTH as: 1) the quality of being deep; deepness. 2) gravity; seriousness. 3) emotional profundity: the depth of someones feelings. Keep this in mind as you read this review.

I like remakes, I really do. Some have been awesome. Friday the 13th and The Karate Kid are two prime examples of remakes done right. Sadly, more than most are pretty pathetic such as Footloose and Planet of the Apes. A remake is a tough gig though. You have to be true to the original in order to keep the original fans happy. At the same time you have to bring something new to it (the remake of Psycho was a frame by frame remake so why watch it? Because it was in color? I think not). So you have to achieve the right balance of old and new.

The original Red Dawn was not an action movie. It really wasn't. It was a drama. Unless you were a sociopath, you left the theater feeling like you had just been gut-punched. The reason so many people of my generation (those who were teenagers in the 80s) loved Red Dawn is because of the profound affect it had on us. At that time in our lives the thought of an invasion (or at the very least a full scale thermonuclear war) was very real fear. This was the biggest and final showdown of the cold war and so yes, those who thought about it at all had at least a noticeable amount of fear about the whole thing. Red Dawn spoke to that fear and brought it to life.

In addition to that, the movie had real depth. There was the back story of how the two young women escaped the Russians and the innuendo of the sexual abuse they suffered. There was the slowly deteriorating mental state of C. Thomas Howell's character as he turns from a scared kid into a remorseless killer. There was the conflict of Patrick Swayze having the mantle of leadership thrust upon him while still trying to come to terms with the whole thing, which included the death of his father. Even the Cuban General in charge of the invasion of this part of America had depth with his letter to his wife explaining his fears that he may never be warm again, that he may never feel her touch again. Good hell. I gotta go watch it again. Just a minute.

Wow, the original Red Dawn really is awesome.

Anyway, I was very excited back at the end of 2009 when I learned they were going to remake Red Dawn and that the Chinese were the new invaders. The time was very similar. World War III wasn't looming over us but The Great Depression II was right in front of us. Now as a father of five children that was even more fearful than the thought of nuclear war was to me when I was 15. And the Chinese were the perfect replacement of the Russians. Even better, some could argue that the Chinese have some legitimate claim to a chunk of country considering how much money we owe them. Of course I would tell the Chinese the same thing I tell my creditors. "You were the ones stupid enough to lend me money, so don't get all shocked and awed when I don't pay it back. That's all on you jackholes". So I was set and ready.

But then the Great Depression II turned into The Great Recession which wasn't as bad but was enough to bankrupt MGM and Red Dawn 2010 was shelved. Finally it was announced it would be released in 2012 but the bad guys were now the North Koreans. "Oh it was easy we just had to change the flags...the people, well they all look alike". Why this didn't piss the Chinese off I'll never know. But Political Correctness, and racism, won out and the N. Koreans invade America. It kind of stretches the realm of possibility in that aren't most of the N. Koreans starving? Aren't they living in the technological dark ages? Then how could they possibly invade us. California? Yes "Oh you're communist and want to come take over? Awesome dudes, come on in". But the rest of America? No way.

Some minor spoilage of the remake now.

The only perfect scene in the movie is the deer hunt scene. It was in one moment an homage to the original while bringing something new to the table. Well done. The addition of the football game at the first (which was only mentioned in the original) was good and introduced what I thought was a good change to Charley Sheen's character. In the original he was a loyal younger brother doing what he was told. In this one he's rebellious and burdened with they typical shackles of youth. Watching him rise to the occasion through the course of the movie and becoming the man his father and older brother needed him to be was very well done. The rest was just like any other action movie you ever saw. Probably just like A Good Day To Die Hard coming out next year "Yippy Kay Ya Mother Russia". Give me a break. 

Here they are shooting up N. Koreans (which looked an awful lot like Chinese to me). Here they are blowing up N. Koreans. Here they are rescuing people who had helped them. Here they are accepting a mission from a Special Forces unit that was dropped in to help them. What? Really? What?  Stop already. It was done in such a way as to set it up directly into Red Dawn The Sequel. The original ended with the two brothers alone sitting on the swing in the park they grew up in ... dying. And two minor characters getting away but forever scarred by the whole thing.  The remake ends up with The Wolverines being the leaders of an entire uprising of Spokanians with promised help from the Special Forces. And where was the rock where they carved the names of their fallen? I guess there will be a Wolverine Facebook pages set up for that.  Swayze wept.

My 12 year old son walked out saying "That was so super awesome." My 18 year old son walked out saying "that was pretty good". My 19 year old daughter said "That was good but I really liked the original better." I walked out thinking, "I should have went to see Skyfall."

This remake has failed to capture the essence and depth of the original. It's just "Okay" which I guess translates into 3 stars.


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