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'Red Dawn' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating


Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth in 'Red Dawn'

Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth in 'Red Dawn'

© Open Road Films
If the new Red Dawn didn't have Chris Hemsworth, hero of Thor and wielder of a gigantic hammer in The Avengers, and Josh Hutcherson, dreamy love interest of Katniss in The Hunger Games, in the lead roles, it's a sure bet the film would have gone straight to DVD. Filmed way, way back in 2009, long before Hemsworth played a demigod or Hutcherson upped his fan base by starring as Peeta in The Hunger Games franchise, this version of Red Dawn provides in-your-face action along with plenty of unintentionally humorous moments. And if all you're interested in is watching bad guys get blown away and buildings get blown up, then Red Dawn is worthy of a viewing at home on cable, but not worth the price of a movie ticket - no matter how big an action geek you are.
Basically, this Red Dawn is a video game come to life on the big screen, albeit one without much in the way of a logical story. Check out the 1984 film and you'll see it actually stands the test of time. Sure, the styles are outdated as are the weapons, but the moral of the story works today as well as it did back in the mid-'80s. 2012's Red Dawn doesn't bother with having a moral to the story and instead jumps straight to the action, without developing any of its characters or providing much insight into their motivations. The North Koreans invade, a group of Spokane teens led by an ex-soldier (Hemsworth) take shelter in the mountains, quickly learn how to fight (including how to make precision strikes against the heavily armed invaders), and become the rebel force known to all as Wolverines. And, yes, for fans of the 1984 film, they do yell "Wolverines!"
It's highly unlikely that 30 years from now anyone will be looking back with fondness on this 2012 release or paying it much mind if it happens to show up on cable, the way we do now with the first Red Dawn.

Now, not everything about 2009's-delayed-until-2012 Red Dawn is horrible. Chris Hemsworth rises above the material, playing the older brother home from the war who's forced into creating a ragtag fighting unit out of his younger brother (played by Josh Peck) and his high school friends. It's not Hemsworth's fault that the new Red Dawn - a remake no one was begging to see done - fails to live up to its predecessor. Hemsworth's actually the best thing about Red Dawn.

Not faring so well are Hemsworth's two main co-stars. Josh Peck is saddled with playing one of the most annoying characters we've add the displeasure of watching on screen this year, a character who's vastly different than the same character in the 1984 version. Peck also looks nothing like Hemsworth or his film dad (played by Brett Cullen in a too-short role), and I'm going to venture a guess that had director Dan Bradley known what we know now, he would have flip-flopped Peck with Josh Hutcherson. Hutcherson's third banana here, and acts circles around Peck.

If you can wait it out and make it through the first hour, the final 30 minutes pays off with a decent finale. But by then, the sun will have set on most audience's patience for this generic action film that wasn't necessary nor wanted in the first place.

Grade: C

Red Dawn was directed by Dan Bradley and is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language.

Theatrical Release: November 21, 2012

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