Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Movie Review: Red Dawn (PG13 - 114 minutes)

The original Red Dawn came out in 1984 and starred Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C.Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, Powers Booth, and Harry Dean Stanton.   It was written by Keving McReynolds and directed by John Millius, who also did Conan the Barbarian (one of my favorites).  It smartly played on some of the paranoia of the Cold War, and featured an American Invasion by Soviet, Cuban, and Nicaraguan forces.  During the start of World War 3, some of these forces parachute into a Colorado high school football field.  Some of the high schoolers take off into the woods, and start to fight back - guerrilla style, and the father of two of the boys asks them famously to "Avenge Me!"
I suppose it makes sense for this movie to be remade.  While the premise is still unnerving, the original is dated; for instance, the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore.  But the idea of high schoolers banding together to fight off an invading force still makes for an entertaining movie, right?  So who to use as the villans?
The answer is of course, China.  When this remake was filmed in 2009 - it made complete sense to use China as the bad guys and invading forces.  However, MGM went through some financial troubles, and this sat on the shelf for a while.  A fate that also befell Chris Hemsworth's other delayed 2012 release, Cabin in the Woods.  In that short amount of time, China has become quite the spot for overseas box office income.  Clearly they could no longer be the villans in a major motion picture .  The makers of this film, including director Dan Bradley (previously known mainly for stunt work and 2nd unit directing) made the decision to digitally change the villans to North Korea.  This means they left all the actors the same, but digitally changed all the flags, and re-dubbed over the dialog.  So, in a scene where two of the invaders were speaking Chinese, they are now dubbed over with Korean.  You can have your own discussions about the level of wrong-ness that entails, and whether it's just a little bit racist to assume that we'll just go with Asian actors being any asian ethnicity, and if it's distracting in the movie (I thought it was, but it might just be me). 
That being said, let's recap the plot in this version:  almost the same as the first.  We get some brief character development between Jed and Matt.  Jed is just back from serving in Iraq, and Matt is the ball-hog quarterback on the football team.  Their father is the local sheriff.  Matt is dating Erica - a cheerleader, and Jed is being hit on by Toni, who is close to Erica, but I can't figure out how - are they sisters?  The power goes out at night, and in the morning - it's raining invading North Korean soldiers.  During the confusion, Jed and Matt grab some of their friends and head out of town at the insistence of their father.  One of the kids seems to be launched out the back of the pickup truck during the escape, but they never mention that agin.  They hide out in their cabin, only to be betrayed, and just before being executed, the father of the two boys encourages them to fight.  Not quite as dramatic as being asked to avenge someone, but pretty good.  The boys then lead their friends in some guerrilla style fighting. 
The cast of this one is capable, although to be honest, no one really gets any character development except for the two brothers.  Everyone else gets about 5 minutes of development.  Which is probably enough for a movie like this.  Everyone is just fine - no one is fantastic, but I don't think there's a need for fantastic:
  • Chris Hemsworth as Jed - is again pre-Thor in this, but is fine and certainly believable as the recently returned Marine who inspires the local kids to fight back.  He proves again that he's a better actor than you think he should be, although it's not shown off in this movie.
  • Josh Peck as Matt - has previously been in a great deal of kid shows and movies.  He was in Drillbit Taylor.  He's not great in this, and has that Kristen Stewart problem of leaving his mouth open all the time. 
  • Adrianne Palicki as Toni - I know the girls were sisters in the original, so I assumed they were in this one, however, Toni does mention that she's an only child.  Adrianne has been on Friday Night Lights, and in Legion, a Paul Bettany movie that I love, and again, she's fine in this - but thank goodness she's not playing Wonder Woman.
  • Isabel Lucas as Erica - previously seen in Transformers 2 as the blond girl.  She plays Matt's girlfriend, and the reason he throws a carefully plotted scheme in the trash to rescue her, throwing the group into disarray.  She's bland, but again - fine.  Incidentally - she once costarred with Chris Hemsworth in an Australian soap opera, and they dated for a while.
  • Josh Hutcherson as Robert - again, this is pre-Peeta for him, but he had already been in the Journey to the Center of the Earth and various other TV shows. He's pretty good in this, and will probably have a very long career.
  • Connor Cruise (yes, Tom's kid) plays Daryl, the mayor's son.  The mayor starts to work with the invaders, giving Connor plenty to act conflicted about.  This is his first major movie role, and again - he's fine.
  • Edwin Hodge (older brother of Aldis, who is currently starring on Leverage, and is my pick to play T'Challa if they ever get around to a Black Panther movie) plays Danny.  He's done a lot of TV, and is again - fine - in this movie as one of the kids helping to fight back.
  • Brett Cullen plays Tom Eckert - sheriff and father.  He's the one who initiates this sequence of events by encouraging the boys to hide in the woods and fight back, but never asks to be avenged.
  • Will Yun Lee plays the lead Korean invader.  He's been in a lot of things, most recently on Hawaii 5-0.  If you didn't watch Witchblade when it was on TV, you should rent it.
  • Jeffery Dean Morgan, Kenneth Choi, and Matt Gerald play the three American Marines that eventually run into the kids in the woods to help them steal a suitcase, which will turn the tide of battle.   Because that's what suitcases do.  Okay, to be fair, it's a communications device, but still - it looks like a suitcase.

So, all in all, the actors were fine.  Nothing great, nothing terrible.  I was expecting terrible, so I was actually pleasantly surprised by the 'fine' quality.  The action was okay - several sequences were shot too close (please back up the camera and let me see what is going on!), and several sequences were shot with a hand held (please put the camera on a steadi-cam and stop running with it - that's not a cool effect, you're just make everyone nauseous!).  I wouldn't run out to the theater for this, maybe wait until you can rent it, then do a double feature with the original - just for kicks.  I'm just going to assume that you have that much time to waste on Red Dawn movies.
5 out of 10 - the definition of average.  Gained points for giving people more reason to yell "Wolverines!"  And bonus for you if that was your high school mascot (mine would be "Falcons!").  Lost points for the brothers making Robert drink a cup of deer's blood after he shoots it, ick, and why?
Bonus Video 1:  Witchblade, was a series on TNT, starring Will Yun Lee and Yancy Butler.
Bonus Video 2:  The "Avenge Me!" Clip from the 1984 Red Dawn.
Bonus Video 3:  Aldis and Edwin Hodge - again, if you aren't watching Leverage, you should be.
Bonus Video:  Cast Interviews!

No comments:

Post a Comment