Opinions are like assholes: everyone IS one. We’ve noticed that Hollywood tends to spend a lot of time chortling while you spend perfectly good alcohol/meth/falafel money on the anal fissures of their “imagination.” Justin Smith of cinema-grind moguls Graf Orlock occasionally plumbs those depths in Graf Orlock Steadicam Reviews.
It seems obvious, yet oft unacknowledged, that film is a direct reflection of contemporary culture, further confused when the film industry seems only interested in the laughable employ of rebooting and reimagining. The 2012 reproduction of 1984’s Red Dawn highlights this strange “artistic” and “creative” limbo shitshow in which Hollywood has found itself, while toying with the humorous and ever-amorphous idea of cultural bogeymen.
The original premise of the awesome film Red Dawn was the invasion of the boring American heartland by Cuban and Russian forces when grain resources in Poland had been depleted. It is left to eight kids in the fictional Calumet, Colorado to fend them off and act as a Reaganite finger in the dyke of 30 years of domino theory, anti-communist fervor and red-scare obsession. (Note the screenplay was penned by John Milius, admitted militarist, inspiration for the character of Walter Sobchak, and writer of Conan the Barbarian, Magnum Force and Apocalypse Now.) The reboot is set in meth-laden Spokane, Washington, and as the specter of Communism still haunts the western world–at least psychologically–the bad guys are North Koreans (reportedly changed from Chinese soldiers in post-production to maintain access to Chinese audiences, ahem, 1.3 billion potential viewers).
Chris Hemsworth plays Patrick Swayze’s role, but this time as a Marine briefly home during the invasion. Like most action films with any Marine in it, he comes imbued with an intact authority, contrary to the “sensitive” and “contemplative” Swayze of old. And unlike the slow, long months of learning to be murderers and “moral introspection” of taking life in the original, these kids become a crazed homicidal explosives and tactical unit after a few days chillin’ in the woods. You should check out their trigger discipline: top-notch!
Overall, the element of true fear and paranoia in a film of this style is missing. It is difficult to believe that the ridiculously broke North Korean totalitarian government has enough to feed one-tenth of Pyongyang, let alone transport a shitload of freedom hating anti-capitalists halfway around the globe. Also, the idea of the Russian army occupying the east coast in collusion with N. Korea (note: decidedly un-Communist for the last 21 years) seems an antiquated plot device at best. Invasion movies that punctuated the 1980s and 1990s played on a very real fear (albeit politically trumped up) that these things could actually occur, and in a post-9/11 world, conventional warfare and invasion seems a far away threat.
As a whole, the flow of this film is ridiculously quick, moving directly from invasion to resistance with jilted speed and little fluidity. Not that I would expect a film of high caliber like this to betray the brushstrokes of genius, but it is a little late in the foreign policy game to rest on the ideological laurels of an ’80s gone by. I suppose it’s indicative of the public reaction when it took four days for anyone to post even a camrip on Pirate Bay. Where this could have been a completely different movie and have gotten away with a lot of the drivel and über-patriotism with impunity, it instead tied itself to whatever sentimentality and neo-conservatism the 1984 version, however stupid in its own right, still holds in our little black hearts.
2 out of 5 Steadicams: for massive-teen-on-invading-army violence and the prospect of finally being able to living under the jackboot of a regime where I would actually maintain gainful employment.