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[film] Red Dawn 2012 - badgerblog
November 22nd, 2012
09:32 am


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[film] Red Dawn 2012
Red Dawn (2012) is a pointless and bad remake. Thirty years from now no one will be watching the remake. If you have an urge to see this remake, may I suggest one of the three following actions:

* Don't.

* Watch the intelligent Australian version of Red Dawn called Tomorrow When the War Began. It's on Netflix instant streaming [1]. (I haven't read the Tomorrow series of books, can't speak to them.)

* Watch the original: I saw the original on the big screen a year or two ago and it had some elements that held up over the decades (Powers Boothe, for example. Harry Dean Stanton, for another). If you watch the Special Edition DVD you can have an onscreen Carnage Counter tallying violent actions, if that's what you really want:

Spoilers for the remake under the cut. Really, if you care about spoilers, don't read inside.

North Korea has trouble feeding itself but is used as a foil by the Russians (who are cited as providing equipment to the North Koreans, and the Russians control the US Eastern corridor - "Alabama to Arizona" and two other states in the midwest and west are cited as being still free).

Chris Hemsworth as Patrick Swayze's character is a US Marine and Iraq War veteran who ran off to the military when his mother died. His younger brother, the current quarterback of the Wolverines football team, resents being abandoned by his older brother. Hemsworth's character's experience as a combat veteran against Iraqi irregulars gives him the ability to train the other young escapees into an effective guerrilla force. The training has a complete lack of fire discipline: they're firing weapons repeatedly just outside of town, unlike Swayze's instructions in the original (while hunting) to never fire more than once because enemies can find where you are.

The early escape out from the front lines involves a running chase by the invaders, and also an encounter with the North Korean Colonel leader. I'm calling this out because it feels artificially forced, even in the context of the rest of the film, setting up a personal antagonism of invading military leader versus rebel leader.

The main characters' (the two brothers) dad is a cop, who leaves them when the attack begins with a total power grid shutdown. Dad early on is used by the aforementioned North Korean military leader Colonel Choi as a spokesman to call in his boys from the woods, and while crying (unlike Harry Dean Stanton's performance) urges them to fight back. He's promptly shot in the head by Colonel Choi.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the leader of three Marines from a local base who find the Wolverines and join up. No Air Force and no Army involvement.

A radio broadcast of coded messages "The chair is against the wall. John has a long mustache." is in the background of one scene of the remake, with no explanation or comment.

The new commander is identified as a Russian Spetznaz but has almost no screen time and almost no speaking lines at all, let alone anything as good as the "become a fox" speech his counterpart had.

Instead of betraying the group, one of the young men is shot with a tracking device he didn't accept. When he's identified as an unknowing carrier of a tracking device, he volunteers to draw off the soldiers. The group drives off as he stands in the road, holding a gun far too big for him.

There's an entire "we must capture the secure crypto radio unit the invasion is using so we can get it to the free states and hack their network" bit that makes no sense at all.

The finale is a battle scene where the teenagers raise an insurgent force and stage a raid on the prisoners camp, using jeeps and miniguns that might as well be from the long-forgotten Megaforce.

(Added in edit) Colonel Choi is a less nuanced character than his counterpart in the original: the original military leader in the 1980s movie is shown to have an internal life, loves his family, is tired of war: his background as a leader of irregulars and partisans gives him perspective and empathy for Patrick Swayze and the teenage Wolverines. This 2012 military leader is never shown to have anything to his character other than dedication to the mission of occupying the invaded territory.


* Bullet to the Head - Stallone as a killer partners with a cop to hunt the axe-wielding mercenary killer who killed Stallone's partner. Think 48 Hours (especially since Bullet is also directed by walter Hill) crossed with Stallone's movie Cobra. Tagline: "Revenge Never Gets Old".

* Zero Dark Thirty - Kathryn Bigelow's film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. December.

* The Last Stand - Arnold S as a sheriff in a US/Mexican border town, major drug dealer coming through. The small-town sheriff must mount an effective blockade. January.

* A Good Day to Die Hard - Because what you need for Valentine's Day 2013 (seriously, that's the opening date) is Bruce Willis in Die Hard 5, bonding or not with his adult kids in Moscow among international plots and a hail of bullets.

[1] The film Tomorrow When the War Began is available on Netflix streaming in the US. It is said to not be available on Netflix in Canada.

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