Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Movie Review: Red Dawn Remake

I don't normally do movie reviews, but there was so much hoopla around this one that I figured I would put in my two cents.

The first and most important thing I have to say is that if you are a big fan of the original and want a tribute movie, this movie isn't for you.  However, if you like modern action movies than you'll probably get a kick out of it.  It keeps some of the themes and ideas from the original movie but puts a new, modern, spin on the classic.  This movie is big action, over the top, lots of explosions... not real big on plot or dialogue.  So, yeah, it's another hollywood action movie.  Think "Transformers" with teenagers instead of robots.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  I knew it wasn't going to be as good as the original, but it was entertaining in a cheesy, explosive kind of way.

Alright, here are a few things I picked up watching the movie.  Here's a couple things that bugged me, later on I'll list a few things I liked.

I'm going to try not to spoil it too much, but if you're seeing it soon you might want to skip this:

  • There were a couple things that bugged me when it came to the time line.  There is absolutely no sense of the time that passes between the start and finish of the movie.  Is it two weeks or two months or two years?  There is a training montage, a la "Rocky" style, where the kids go from ordinary to trained killers.  Did that take two weeks or two months?  Then, when they pick up new people there is no apparent break-in period, they seemlessly join the experienced Wolverines.
  • Chris Hemsworth is too tall.  Yeah, I said it.  He's like two feet taller than everyone else in the movie.  Most people probably didn't notice or care, but he looks like a giant in several scenes.
  • Hemsworth's character gets shot too many times.  Like most modern action movies, the main character shakes off the same damage that drops his enemies in their tracks.
  • In the beginning, their old Dodge truck is apparently invincible.  It soaks up a TON of damage and keeps ticking, despite the fact that it destroys military grade trucks when it rams them.
  • At one point they jump from one building to the roof of another, about two stories down from their window.  Who does that and doesn't break anything major?  Why would you even try it?
  • At one point, the Daryl character is aiming his AK-47 at some enemies on a podium with his flip-up scope cover down.  I probably wouldn't have noticed this but they kept going to a close up of his face behind the scope, cover clearly down, multiple times.
  • Most movies I don't notice the musical score, but every time there was a speaking moment the music was really obvious.  Music during an action scene?  Cool.  But when there's an inspirational speech  with loud, inspirational music... it's just over the top.  Every time something was going on, it was obvious by the music what we were supposed to "feel".  Loud sad music?  I guess it's a sad scene.  Maybe the director didn't think the actors could pull off the scenes and over did the music to compensate.
  • The lack of opposing military technology.  They partially cover this by saying that there is an EMP style weapon that was used, so maybe that played a part in limiting the Korean's technological capabilities.  However, when everything else seems to be working; tanks, phones, trucks, aircraft... it's hard to believe that the Koreans didn't have any tech advantages up their sleeve.  Mostly there was the obvious lack of air support, especially ones with with infrared cameras.  Granted, when the Wolverines were in town than infrared wouldn't have been very useful, but when they were being hunted in the wilderness (the Koreans used dogs) one high altitude plane/helo/UAV with infrared cameras would have ended the Wolverine's streak really quickly.  Hell, one satellite and they could have tracked the Wolverines without ever tipping them off.  There was none of that.  
  • There was no examination or character development on the Korean side.  They were all pretty generic bad guys.  That's kind of expected in most big budget hollywood action movies, they don't want you to feel bad when the bad guys get torn up with .50 cal fire, or exploded.  However, it would have added some depth to the movie if there had been a bad guy glancing at a picture of his girl friend thousands of miles away, or one who felt bad about invading another country, something.

Ok, there were some good points too:

  • I liked that none of the main characters were perfect.  In fact, the main characters weren't even all that likeable.  It wasn't a case of hollywood creating the 'perfect' good guy with no character flaws, these characters all made mistakes, had temper tantrums, and were honestly annoying at times.  Those traits made the movie better than most modern action movies.
  • The actors were all pretty good.  I mean, there isn't a heavy acting burden in modern action flicks, but they got the job done without being distracting.  It was all pretty straight forward.  I was honestly surprised that Hemsworth did so well, he had probably the most nuanced role and played it well.
  • There's lots of action.  LOTS.  They rush through the non-action scenes, which might bother some people (ie. the training montage), but the action scenes were exciting and frequent.
  • There were some tribute moments where they directly or indirectly tipped their hat to the original.  I'm sure you'll recognize them when you see them (if it's been a while, it might not be a bad idea to watch the original before you see the remake just so you can appreciate them).
  • It puts a modern spin on Red Dawn: one of the main characters is an Iraq war vet (gives the whole teenagers successfully fighting trained soldiers slightly more credibility), it does a decent version of modern guerilla warfare, and it has far more urban combat than the original (I consider that points toward realism since so much of the population lives in cities these days).  It stuck to the ideas and themes while managing to update the time frame.
  • It has a couple good twists, if you're expecting it to strictly follow the original storyline you will be in for a few surprises.
  • I liked the how the movies ends.  It felt like it wrapped up well and I liked the last scenes (the music was annoying, but I already mentioned that).  Die hard fans of the original will probably hate this ending since it's wrapped up with a pretty bow compared to the original, but I've already said that you have to go into this one with an open mind.  The original will always be a classic, this movie won't be, but it does have some good moments on it's own.

So, if you managed your way through all of that, it was a decent movie as long as you weren't expecting the original.  There were a couple of things I didn't like, but I could say that about any movie these days.  On it's own Red Dawn was entertaining in a big budget hollywood kind of way.  If you liked movies like Transformers and GI Joe (the style, not the quality), fast paced, lots of action, and explosions, than you'll probably get a kick out of the new Red Dawn.

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