by Coop Cooper
“Red Dawn”: In this remake of the 1984 action classic, North Korea hits America with an experimental superweapon that cripples the U.S. military. As the rogue country invades, teenagers in Spokane, WA escape to the wilderness and learn guerrilla warfare from an older sibling (Chris Hemsworth), a soldier on leave from the war in Afghanistan. Using techniques used against the U.S. military in Vietnam and the Middle East, the teens strike back against the invaders, while suffering sacrifices along the way.
If you recall my previous articles about this film, you’d know this remake was supposed to be released back in 2010, but was shelved after MGM went bankrupt. It was delayed even longer when the studio got cold feet about how the film market in China would react to being the villains of the film. After spending an extra million dollars to alter the footage to make North Korea the enemy, “Red Dawn” was quietly released over Thanksgiving. Was the million dollar makeover and the wait worth it? Not a bit.
That’s not to say the remake isn’t exciting. Most of the action consists of bombings and urban ambushes, a sharp distinction from the copious wilderness battles of the original. The teens pull off special forces-styled missions making it even more far-fetched than the 1984 version, but it’s all in good fun.
However, this version lacks the heroic sacrifice which made the original film so gripping. The (fewer) hero deaths in this version are sudden, glossed over and feel less meaningful. The teens don’t go through as many hardships because they move so freely in and out of the city and amongst the general public. They don’t starve, they escape too easily and they don’t make contact with legitimate U.S. military until far too late in the story.
Most people will prefer the original, but this version is different and fun enough to warrant a casual viewing. It does feature the next generation of young, bankable stars who will are destined – at least according to Hollywood – to become household names: Chris Hemsworth (“Thor” and “Avengers”), Josh Peck (“The Wackness”), Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games”), Isabel Lucas (“Immortals”), Adrianne Palicki (“Friday Night Lights” TV series). Josh Hutcherson arguably has the best scene in the film where he takes out a tank and leads civilians in the “Wolverines” war cry. He’s no C. Thomas Howell but then again, it’s not 1984.
Rating: 3 out of 5