Knee-jerk review: "Red Dawn"

1. What can we say? We were curious. The 1984 original - the first movie ever rated PG-13, true story - is a something of an iconic classic for Generation X.  We loved it.
2. But this remake? Not terrible. Not great, either.  Mostly, it's just sort of pointless.
3. You'd think this kind of thing would really resonate in an age of American occupation where one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist insurgent.  It's all a matter of geopolitical perspective.  But this is not a very deep movie.  Disappointing, but not surprising.  Probably didn't help that the finished film sat on the shelf for a couple of years while MGM sorted out yet another set of financial troubles, robbing the movie of whatever meager relevance it might have had when it was made.
4. The producers' last-minute decision to use post-production CGI to make the bad guys North Korean instead of Chinese (to avoid offending that huge box office audience) is not only hilariously cowardly, but also completely implausible from a narrative perspective.  Anyone who's at all familiar with the pathetic realities of North Korea knows they could never mount any sort of large-scale invasion of anything.
5. That one shot of the paratrooper parachutes drifting down out of the sky, lifted from the original, is still pretty powerful.
6. "Wolverines!"
7. Josh Peck (in the Charlie Sheen role) is apparently some kind of up-and-comer in Hollywood, but we found his scratchy-voiced, hooded-eye brand of James Dean-style brooding to be annoying and, frankly, rather douchey.
8. The movie just feels small, whereas the original had more of an epic scope to it.  Or is just that as a 12-year-old in 1984, we had lower standards?
9. This despite the fact that the remake creates a new MacGuffin element that allows our heroes a clear mission to accomplish.  That should have helped address the original film's rather mushy second half.
10. Adrianne Palicki.  Sigh.  We'd probably watch her do anything.
11. The weary cynicism of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (in the Powers Boothe role) makes the most of his handful of lines.  He steals the few scenes he's in, but his character is really not much of a factor.
12. What teenaged high school guy wouldn't want the opportunity to fight a foreign army?  
13. There's a lot of macho talk about making "tough choices" (i.e. fight or collaborate) but the remake skirts complex questions about the messy nature of guerrilla warfare.  We're thinking of the horrible moment in the original in which our heroes realized they had a spy in their midst.  The remake cleverly mutes that situation to sidestep any unpleasantness.
14. We saw it so you didn't have to.  You're welcome.

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