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Review: RED DAWN (2012)

by Aaron Vaccaro – Head Writer

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Best Bad Quote:

“WOLVERINES!”

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When I heard last year that a remake of Red Dawn was in the works, I felt like my childhood was being raped. Now, after having just seen the remake, I don’t feel like my childhood was raped but instead that it was treated like a lady and then treated to a night of unmemorable sex.  What that stretch of a metaphor is attempting to convey is that the Red Dawn remake had good intentions, but at the end of the day substituted action for story and left this reviewer feeling a bit cheated.

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The remake stayed pretty faithful to the original plot of a small mid-western town being invaded by the Russians, leaving a group of crafty teenagers to defend their town at any cost.  But instead of the Russians, the invading threat in the remake are the ever-so-topical North Koreans.  And instead of it taking place in the Midwest, ground zero of the invasion takes place in the Pacific Northwest — Spokane, Washington, specifically.  Iraqi war veteran, Jed (Chris Hemsworth) comes home to Spokane while on leave to see his family.  His younger brother, Matty (Josh Peck), the star of the local high school football team butts heads with Jed but they’re forced to work together when North Koreans start falling from the sky.  They, along with other “Wolverines,” head for the mountains to figure out a plan to reclaim their town and their freedom.

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The cast was the weakest part of the Red Dawn remake.  They have big shoes to fill obviously with the leads in the 1984 original being a veritable all-star cast of “brat pack”ers – Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey, and Lea Thompson.  Do I think that this new group of youngsters is going to bring about the “brat pack” remake?  Not a chance.  Hemsworth, who fills Swayze’s shoes as the hardened older brother, “Jed,” is easy on the eyes and tough, but was missing the heart and soul that Swayze brought to the part.  Josh Peck, who assumes Charlie Sheen’s role of “Matty,” was by far the weakest of the cast.  The guy talks like he has a mouthful of marbles and looks like he’s about to start cracking up in the most serious of scenes.  The only true acting improvement from the original film was Josh Hutcherson, tackling C. Thomas Howell’s role of “Robert.”  Not to take anything away from Howell, who owned in Soul Man¸Hutcherson actually has chops and the potential to be a really talented actor for years to come.  I first became familiar with Hutcherson as the son of lesbian parents in The Kids Are All Right, and in both films, Hutcherson brings a maturity and naturalness to his roles that is refreshing in today’s climate of substituting acting talent for physical appeal.  The girls in both films were pretty even – so it’s a “push.”

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Red Dawn was certainly more entertaining than I ever expected it to be.  To be honest, I kind of expected Hollywood to Twilight­-ify this remake in a transparent effort to pander to the female audience.  Or even more egregious, thought that due to the PG-13 rating, the reality of this terrifying scenario would be compromised and not accurately depicted in all its R-rating goodness.  In fact, it was quite the opposite, as the film was decently violent, though very little detail of any of the deaths are delved into.  As far as the “Twilight Factor” is concerned, there is a little love story woven in, but the plot definitely doesn’t let itself get bogged down in those types of details.  Surprisingly, my biggest complaint of the film is that we didn’t really get to know most of these characters.  Some might appreciate the fact that the first act of the film spends very little time establishing our heroes and instead dives right into the action.  This is the new world of moviemaking we live in, folks.  No time for a twenty minute first act that gets to intimately know your hero/heroes so that you’re willing and ready to go on the hour and a half journey with them that is to follow.  Now, it’s wham, bam, let’s blow some shit up already.  Frankly, it’s a little disheartening how little patience the typical A.D.D. American moviegoer has for letting a story come to a simmer.

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Red Dawn is fun time as long as you don’t let yourself get bogged down in the corny dialogue, lazy acting, and lack of character depth.  At the end of the day, Red Dawn much like the original, makes you feel proud to be an American and if you’re anything like our theater, will have you cheering and applauding.

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Rating:

3 out of 5 WOLVERINES!

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