Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Red Dawn

posted by Nell Minow
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence and action and for language
Profanity:Strong language
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:Intense and graphic battle violence with guns and explosions, characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:November 21, 2012
DVD Release Date:March 5, 2013

There was much to improve in the original version of “Red Dawn,” a simple-minded fantasy film about a communist invasion of small town America: the plot, which asked us to believe that Cuban and Soviet invaders would focus their attention on subduing the teenage population of a town with no military significance; the dialogue, which was hilariously wooden; the special effects (the bad guys tracked our heroes using a locator that appears to have been borrowed from a 1930s Flash Gordon serial); the acting (despite a cast of future stars such as Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, the original “Red Dawn” left the actors little to do except shoot guns and emote in their mountain hideouts); the production values (unseen artillery and aircraft shelled a lone tank in the middle of a vacant field with what appeared to be firecrackers). In fact, everything about the original “Red Dawn” had a childlike simplicity that made it endearing to audiences.

The plot of the new “Red Dawn” mimics the original in most respects.  Members of the Wolverines, a high school football team, refuse to surrender to or collaborate with the invaders (this time from Asia) the way many of their disappointing parents do. They take to the hills, learn to fight and inspire a resistance movement.  Along the way they learn lessons about loyalty, patriotism, and the price of the freedoms we all hold dear.  Older brother Jed Eckert is played by Chris Hemsworth (Thor from “The Avengers”) while younger brother Matty Eckert is played by Josh Peck. The obligatory girlfriend who looks hot in guerrilla garb is played by Adrianne Palicki.

MGM looked at the original formula and decided that if it was going to upgrade just one ingredient, it would be the quality of the explosions.  No firecrackers here, the new and improved “Red Dawn” has serious explosions and gunfire.  A residential neighborhood is blown up with high definition digital effects.  First time director Dan Bradley was previously a stunt coordinator and it shows.  We see house to house gunfights that look and sound authentic.  The new version uses realistic blood, rather than the Heinz ketchup favored by the producers of the original.

The problem is, this change in the formula disrupts the equilibrium that gave the original its charm.  Every element of the original was equally unpersuasive.  By making bullets more persuasive, Bradley only highlights the dumbnicity of the rest.

Worse, the new Red Dawn is a less kind movie.  Along with the more realistic violence, there is more drinking and profanity.  Unfortunately, the dialogue that is supposed to glue these elements together remains as insubstantial as the dialogue in the cartoonish original.  (Says the young guerrilla leader: “We have to make it too hard and too difficult for them.”)  One other change — the Soviet Union no longer being available as invaders, this film substituted the Chinese when it was shot a few years ago until the distributors who ended up with it after the first group ran out of money figured out that Chinese people constitute a very big audience for films, preferably ones that don’t make them the bad guys.  So, the Chinese invaders were digitally altered to make them North Korean.

The new “Red Dawn” is slicker than the original but it lacks the heart that was the only redeeming feature of the first version.  It is a meaner production, and probably not worth your time unless you go for the explosions, which are pretty good.

Parents should know that this film has extensive and sometimes graphic images of battle with guns and explosions, fighting, with characters injured and killed, and very strong language.

Family discussion: Why did some parents instruct their children to cooperate with the invaders? What made some people in the town choose to resist?  What would be the hardest thing for you about fighting the invaders?  How were the Wolverines like our founding fathers?

If you like this, try: the original 1984 version starring Patrick Swayze



  • Pingback: Red Dawn « Christian Media Monitor

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kara

    Thanks for the review. It sounds like the Red Dawn remake comes in as a distant second to the 1984 original. In which case I think I’ll skip the remake and try watching the original. Hopefully I find it charming, like you did, even if it isn’t realistic.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Toby Clark

    If you want to see this premise done right, I recommend John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began, its sequels and its flawed but pretty good film adaptation.

    I hadn’t been too impressed with the original Red Dawn, and I’d been optimistic about this one in part because I’ve been a fan of Chris Hemsworth and Isabel Lucas going back to their soap opera days. Looks like I should wait for it to hit the weekly shelves, though.

    • Nell Minow

      Thanks, Toby!

Previous Posts

What's Up With My Family? -- App Helps Middle Schoolers Navigate Life
Middle School Confidential™ 3: What’s Up with My Family? is a new IOS app, the next installment of the series for tweens and teens. The third edition continues the story of Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle—a tight-knit group of friends in middle school—who are realizing that growi

posted 3:59:49pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

The Simpsons Binge Watch: Every Episode Plus the Movie
Get your food delivery menus ready.  Unplug your phone.  All 552 Simpsons episodes will be broadcast in order, starting tomorrow. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq4w74r8HKY#t=27[/youtube] The new season starts September 28.

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Bo Svenson
Bo Svenson is an actor, writer, director, judo champion, and, as I was lucky enough to find out, an enthralling guy to talk to, turning an interview into a wide-ranging conversation. Svenson was

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tribute: Don Pardo
Don Pardo's face was not familiar.  But his voice was instantly recognizable.  We mourn the loss of one of the great announcers in broadcast history, who died on Monday at age 96. The cast of "Saturday Night Live," where he served as announcer from the beginning, celebrated his 90th birthday.

posted 12:44:03pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Gayle Forman of "If I Stay"
Gayle Forman is the author of If I Stay, the source for this week's movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia, a talented young cellist in a coma following a car accident.  As she hovers between life and death, she remembers incidents from her life with her family and with her rock musician boyfrie

posted 8:00:16am Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.