Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review: Red Dawn 2012

Even though it came out when I was a toddler when it came out the original Red Dawn was a big part of my formative years as a teen and early 20 something gun toting redneck soon to be survivalist. I cannot count nights revolved around a case of beer, some booze and watching Red Dawn with my buddies. Watching it, talking about what we would do and even making a few preparations because of it. So naturally I had to see the new Red Dawn.

The Remake of Red Dawn has faced some adversity. It was sucked into a black hole due to financial issues at MGM. After filming the invading nation was changed from China to North Korea. It isn't too hard to mentally insert China every time they say North Korea anyway. So it finally came out and I went to see it.

I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum but if you are dead set about seeing this movie without any sort of a notion of what happens then it would be smart to read this after you see the movie, not before. 

Red Dawn 2012 has naturally been brought into the modern era. The loose scenario that starts things out is based around current situations and some plausible continuations of them. Kind of the same start as the original with today's threats really. The location was changed to Spokane, Washington which is (for the inland American West) a pretty big city instead of the small town of Calumet, Colorado. I always thought in the original it was Montana but cannot recall why. Another notable difference is that the older brother is a Marine with combat experience.  More on this later.

There were a variety of other fairly small changes. Broadly speaking the 2012 version was true to the original. It was not a carbon copy but the broad strokes were similar with enough changes to make it contemporary and interesting. Also there was a scene (may have been more that I missed) where they poked a bit of well intended fun at the original. Well played.

To the usual format.

The Good: Making the older brother a Marine with combat experience made the whole plot a lot more realistic. The odds of one person with real experience being able to field a team of fighters that could do some damage and stay alive is much higher than a whole crew of amateurs doing the same. A departure from the original for sure but not a bad one. There are a whole lot of veterans of viable fighting age around these days so it is pretty realistic anyway.

Naturally coming along with a person with combat experience the group conducted some training before beginning to go all Wolverines on those evil Chinese North Koreans. There was even a pretty cool montage about it. Some basic training combined with somewhat competent leadership makes the groups success seem more plausible than it might have in the original.

 Also the way the group operated, was supplied and sheltered was more plausible than in the original. It meshed with a variety of historical patterns of various guerrilla groups. Not that the original was weak here as it didn't really focus on tactics anyway it is just that this one was just a bit stronger here.

The characters seemed a bit more 3 dimensional in the 2012 version. There were some sidelines of various human interactions that made the characters seem a lot more human.

The Bad: Without getting into details I think the Wolverines ability to freely enter and exit Spokane was a bit convenient. The totalitarian folks in China North Korea know a few things about population and resource control. They would probably issue some sort of passport or ID card very quickly and use them to restrict (and if the system is electronic track) freedom of movement.

The Ugly: To keep up with today's hyper action movies the level of up close and personal violence as well as close calls was pretty high. At one point a Chinese Korean soldier was blazing away with a frickin Ma Deuce AKA .50 caliber machine gun from CQB range at one of the Wolverines but somehow did not kill him. I wouldn't say these few incidents detracted from the overall movie but they certainly annoyed me.

Overall Assessment: I liked this movie and think you will also. If you are into slightly cheesy patriotic action movies you will enjoy Red Dawn 2012.

I have some general thoughts but will probably let them mull for a day or so. Folks who made it out to the movies for Red Dawn please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.


Lamb said...

Saw it yesterday and LOVED it! I loved the original (and always will!), but this was a very nice update. My Darlin' Man had a problem with the scene where Jed and Mattie wake up to NK planes/troops/etc (keeping it vague for those who haven't scene it)as he said that a combat veteran would wake up WAY faster to certain sounds! Also, my Darlin' Man has seen duty on the DMZ in South Korea...he thought the NK would get the population in control much more quickly and stringently than shown.
Other than that, very enjoyable movie.

Anonymous said...

As an old Red Dawn Fan I hope it's as good as you say. I was one of Kipling's "young men in baracks" back then. OTOH- check out the trailer for "Dragon Day" it looks like a copy of Red Dawn but they answer some of the points you mentioned. On top of these two, check out "Grey State"- that looks flat out too close to home. Not affiliated with any of the above, just a fan of the genere.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

+1 for fingers properly indexed.

Max said...

Don't do it, save your $7+. I could be wrong, others may enjoy the SAW firing for several seconds on full auto when you just plainly saw about 5 rounds on the belt.

So many holes, I expected so much more.

Anonymous said...

I saw it Thanksgiving Day, it was okay. Not sure I'd buy the CD when it arrives though - might think that one over. I've had a VHS and CD of the original for many years now. Comparing the two would be interesting.

Gracie said...

I saw it a few days later than most folks. I really enjoyed it. There is a lot about the original movie that I can't remember, but I thought it followed the basic story line pretty closely. I am going to buy the original Red Dawn and watch it with the kids. And yes, we took the boys to see it with us. They are old enough to watch it and understand that something like that could possibly happen. It really made me think about things like, where would we all meet up if something happened while the boys were in school. They are in two different schools several miles from each other, so this could be difficult. Do we have the younger two meet in a place not too far from their school and the older one in a location near his? Do we have them meet in one central location, requiring SOMEONE to cross the four lane highway? Lots to think about and this was just the kick in the pants we needed to get us planning better.

Anonymous said...

Took Wifey and the two youngest kids and we were all well entertained.


After the last part of the scene were "Dad" says "Do what I would do..." , and the muffling,etc., I think the *value* of taking the family was gained.

The realization that the *bad men* might not always wear black hats, and that Dad may not always be there to rely on, THAT was the point.

The idea that the Wolverines could just materialize, both in and out of town was distracting, but otherwise it was pretty good.

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