Review: Red Dawn

Red Dawn

For a movie that was so formulaic and predictable I sure did have a lot of questions. There are many things that simply didn’t make sense, weird issues with consistency or things that really needed an explanation while others did not. That said by the last act I was having a good time with a few good humor moments and overall things were simply coming together well. Oh, and the damn shaky cam was lighter toward the end so that helped.

Red Dawn is the story of North Korea invading the US and is centered on a small town in Washington State where a group of youngsters band together to fight back against the invaders branding themselves the Wolverines, after the town’s High School football team.

I’d like to state up front that I’ve never seen the original Red Dawn that this film is a remake of. I think I’m better off as I didn’t sit in the theater judging it based on the previous film. However, I was aware of this film’s most controversial change in that it was originally the Chinese that were invading the US. Due to the current political climate of the real world all the Chinese flags were CGed over with North Korean flags. It doesn’t help that I can tell the difference between a Korean person and pretty much anyone else, but I digress. The CG job was very thorough so I’ll let it go.

Now this movie was super formulaic from the opening wartime expositional opening credits complete with news bites and newspaper clippings to the patriotic ending that will make you wonder just where that American flag came from. Good lord, the training montage with the “we’re training for war!” voice over had me rolling my eyes. The only real curve it threw at me was just when I was beginning to wonder how on earth they could resolve this hopeless situation they were the film decided to add a McGuffin for our heroes to obtain in order to save the day. In other words it avoided being predictable by being a slightly different kind of predictable. It almost felt like a condensed TV series. So much so that I think I would have preferred if this were a weekly show.

There were some annoying issues I had beyond the lack of creativity in the script. For example this movie couldn’t seem to decide if the electricity was on or not. They have crappy weapons that they use to get better weapons but how did they get the crappy ones in the first place? Why is it so easy for these kids to move freely through this occupied city which seems to let them drive in and out as much as they please? And for crying out loud the shaky cam has got to stop. I’ve never had an issue with shaky cam as a general rule but it really obscured too much in this movie. Important characters died and you’d miss it until it was stated on screen. Which leads to one last weird thing...the violence. It was toned down A LOT. For a movie full of people getting shot you rarely actually saw the shots hitting the bodies. Even head shots were obscured just right. It just felt...off.

All of this complaining aside the last act was simply a ton of fun to watch. The Wolverines had pulled themselves together as a team and it showed. It felt like they had truly come a long way and were functioning as a unit and it was honestly a blast to watch. It also started to drive home how much of a war this is with realistic losses and gains. It simply felt right toward the end, like the journey had gotten somewhere and this was it. I just wish this were a TV series so they could have taken their time on this journey. It would have been a bit more rewarding.

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