By Sherry Lipp
As strange as it may seem to day, when the original Red Dawn made its debut in theaters in 1984, the thought of a Russian invasion seemed like something that might happen at any time. Nearly 30 years later things have changed quite a bit. But of course there are still threats, and a post-9/11 world has left the lingering idea that an attack of some kind could come suddenly and unexpectedly. So I would have thought Red Dawn would have been ripe for a remake. For one thing, the original is no classic, so there is no real fear of treading on sacred ground. For another, new technology could have added another level to the story. Unfortunately, the 2012 remake not only didn’t do anything new with the story, it did less.
Because political unrest has caused increased overseas deployment of the United States military, the mainland has become vulnerable to attack. One morning the people of Spokane, Washington awake to find the power out and a fleet of North Korean paratroopers descending on their town. A group of teenagers flees into the woods, led by Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth), a Marine home on leave. Jed convinces the teens to fight back as the town is taken over by the North Koreans. There is really not any more to the story than that. Jed has a troubled relationship with his younger brother Matt (Josh Peck), but that element doesn’t add to the story much. The teens train under the guidance of Jed until they are prepared to launch their own counter-attack against the North Korean occupation.
This film was just plain uninteresting. The characters weren’t engaging, the action was boring, the story pretty much non-existent. I wasn’t even expecting much, but I still found myself disappointed. I didn’t really buy that such an invasion was even remotely plausible. Supposedly the North Koreans were able to disable electricity and military communications on both coasts making it impossible for the military to coordinate a response. Now, if a huge portion of the military is already overseas, meaning they still have communications, wouldn’t they come back to defend the country? There is no word on what the president or individual military bases are doing during this time. Apparently nothing. Oh yeah, and the reason for the North Korean takeover? Down with capitalism. Boring.
I would be remiss in not pointing out that North Korea was not even the original aggressor in this film. The film was shot entirely with China as the invading country. This was changed in post-production so as not to compromise potential Chinese box-office. These changes primarily amounted to a revised opening sequence and digitally altering all the Chinese emblems to make them North Korean. I’m not going to go into the implications of simply changing one Asian country for another without regard to what actors are in the roles, but it doesn’t seem quite right.
Red Dawn’s technically specs are first rate, with a crisp transfer and a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack that is ultra-active in all channels. Strangely enough, there are no special features on the Blu-ray. No deleted footage, no promotional featurettes, nothing. It does come with a standard DVD and digital copy.
The only thing this film, which was shot back in 2009, has going for it is the casting of Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) and Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games). Without their rising star power this film might have sat on the shelf a little longer, eventually to be released straight to video. Even with them, this film was not worth much more than that.