Red Dawn: Fun but flawed


This movie is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language

If a film was ever begging to be remade, it was Red Dawn.  The 1984 film about a group of teenagers that fight a guerilla war against Russians who invade America is a cult classic, and it was nice to see an updated version of the idea.  For the most part, the remake hits the same notes as the original, and serves as a decent piece of escapism.  

This time it’s the North Koreans who invade, and instead of Patrick Swayze waiting to take them on it’s Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Josh Peck (best known for his role in the Nickelodeon sitcom Drake and Josh).  The two play brothers, and together they lead a group of local young people against the invaders.

Even though this movie takes itself deadly serious, as spelled out from the opening second that uses real world news to set the explosive stage for the film’s events, it’s still mostly just a lot of fun.  It feels fantastical enough that there’s never any fear of this really happening.  Instead you can just turn your brain off and cheer for the good guys as they try to liberate their little slice of America from the bad guys.

That liberation effort involves a ton of battles, which for the most part is just fine with me.  The issue, and really the film’s great flaw, comes from the ridiculous over usage of shaky cam.  Anyone who has read my reviews for a period of time knows my feelings on this method, and they’ll tell you that I hate it with a white hot passion.

I simply can’t understand when it became a good idea to obscure the best parts of action movies.  Anytime things get good in Red Dawn, the camera shakes wildly in an attempt to make it seem gritty and real.  Instead, all it seems is eye bleedingly impossible to follow.  By the time the final battle is over, not only will you only have a vague notion of what action unfolded, but you’ll also have a bout of motion sickness.

Think I’m overreacting?  Get this.  The shaky cam is so bad in this movie, that it’s employed almost constantly.  Two brothers having a quiet conversation in the woods in the middle of the night?  Yeah, the camera shakes constantly.  A character sleeping in the back of a truck?  Yeah, the camera shakes constantly.  It’s an unforgivable flaw, and really the only major gripe I have against what was an otherwise entertaining and well made movie.

The action in the film is abundant and awesome when it’s not being ruined by shaky cam.  Hemsworth and his followers wage a pretty great insurgency against the invaders, and you definitely will be rooting them on as they fight for their freedom.

Acting and performances don’t matter quite as much in movies like these as they do in other films, but everyone does an admirable job making the world of the movie seem realistic.  The limited amount of character development is well done, and you care about the freedom fighters and what happens to them.

Red Dawn is a fun movie, but not one I’d suggest rushing out to see.  It’s probably best saved for a rental in a few months.


This Weekend at the Theater

Two new movies are releasing this weekend with neither getting much early buzz.  First up is the crime film Killing Them Softly.  Even the star power of Brad Pitt hasn’t garnered this film much attention.  Pitt stars as a mob enforcer who is sent after a few small time criminals who get in over their heads.  Trailers make this one look like every other film ever released in the genre, but perhaps Pitt can elevate it.

The other new release is the horror film The Collection.  This is a sequel to the 2009 film The Collector.  The masked killer with a love for mutilating traps is back, and it looks like audiences can expect even more of the brutality, torture and gore than the original presented.  It’s hard to say why a sequel was made to a film that only made $7 million and came in a dismal eleventh place in its debut weekend, but if early buzz is any indication, the sequel will likely do even less money.

Releasing on home video this week is the horror film The Apparition, the period bootlegging film Lawless, the kids film Paranorman, the dance film Step Up Revolution, and on Friday, Men In Black 3.

Texas Movie Bistro 1x6 11-29-12