Monday, June 3, 2013
JohnnyTwoToes is angry with this jingoistic mess
Having been one of the few that did not even like the original Red Dawn from 1984, I was not holding out much hope for the new version that has made its way to video after a short and failing run in theaters. This version sadly offers nothing new and actually makes you wonder, why it was even remade?
Completed in 2009, MGM shelved this version waiting for rewrites in the script, re-shoots, and a change of the invaders of the United States from China (to access its box office) to current favorite North Korea. Seemingly more timely since a new North Korean leader (even more loony than his father) has taken over power, it probably must have felt as a wise choice but it still does not help the movie.
The problem I had with the 1984 original was the poor acting (and overacting) and a lame script by otherwise GREAT screenwriters John Milius (Apocalypse Now) and Kevin Reynolds (187, The Count Of Monte Cristo). Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore's script is also based on the 1984 film but however bad the original, this remake is worse. Dan Bradley's direction is amateurish and tepid, the script utterly bellicose and the action scenes (except a very few) boring. The movie stutters from the start as its poorly constructed with no pay off.
The hero Chris Hemsworth is a returning soldier from the Middle East who still has the fighting blood in him. His younger brother, Matt (Josh Peck) is the local high school football stud that everyone loves. After the Wolverine football team loses a big game everyone crashes for the night at their respective homes only to be awaken by the horror that North Korea has decided to invade America. Why? Not a clue.
North Korea barely has enough gumption to launch a fledgling missile into the Sea Of Japan, let alone launch a full scale invasion into a enormous country like America. I can suspend disbelief for a film provided it gives me a decent reason but Red Dawn (like its 1984 predecessor) fails in this department rather miserably.
Besides, these kinds of action films are only as good as the villains are. The villains in Red Dawn are paper thin with nothing to distinguish them beyond a cardboard cutout. The villains are ineffective because the viewer knows nothing about them at all. What? Did they have some bad food the night before, wake up grumpy and say "Dammit, I need some good food. Let's invade America!"?
The heroes don't fair much better. Hemsworth is an engaging lead; rugged, handsome with a swagger that The Duke would be proud of. The rest of the cast is okay but I have to talk about Josh Peck. Now I try not be vicious with films because, after all I can make my point without doing so. Even more so with performers, male or female but Josh Peck, at least in this film, has to be one of the crappiest actors I have ever seen. In Red Dawn he comes across as a simpering loser who would not last one minute going to the grocery store let alone in a real invasion of his homeland. He flashes his puppy dog eyes and everyone is supposed to swoon and give him a pass. I suppose I should not be too hard no him, but every time an emotional moment came to his character, Peck was about as convincing as Charles Manson convincing a parole board he was sane and should be released. Now before I get all kinds of hate mail shouting, "You are comparing an actor to a mass murderer?" , let me just NO I AM NOT COMPARING Josh Peck to a mass murderer. I am simply saying if you watch this film and then any of Manson's interviews on YouTube you will see that both fail miserably at conveying anything they want to convey.
The only good aspect of Red Dawn is surprisingly its music. Ramin Djawadi terrific score solitarily stands out - its superb during the main highlights, effectively punctuating even some of the less energetic action scenes as well. In fact, it's so good, its worth purchasing. However, it still cant save this mess.
So, take my advice and leave the film on the shelf. At a run time of only 90 minutes your pain will be short lived. Note to Hollywood, just because it is there, does not mean in needs to be remade. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stop remaking crappy movies with crappier movies!! * out of 4