Nonstop Movies: ‘Red Dawn’

Can we stop with the pointless remakes now? Please?

Sure, there have been a few good remakes sprinkled among the many awful ones, but I would love it if Hollywood would at least try to pretend they care more about art than commerce once in a while and not turn out lazy rehashes like “Red Dawn.” I’m sure there are thousands of struggling screenwriters in LA hungry to get their original scripts read, yet instead studios choose to make trash like this. The title doesn’t even make sense anymore. The first film featured a Russian invasion, so the “red” in the title was appropriate, but with North Koreans as the invaders in the remake, the reference is no longer valid.

True, the original bad guys in the remake were Chinese, which would have been okay, but as a result of being shelved for a few years due to studio bankruptcy, the villains were changed to North Koreans so our financial friends the Chinese wouldn’t get offended. If that was the case, it would have been better off staying on the shelf for good.

Remakes generally are a result of laziness from their inception as studios avoid the difficult and time-consuming step of conjuring up an original idea by just stealing one that’s already been done. But “Red Dawn” exceeds that laziness by not even bothering to come up with a script that makes the audience care a single bit about the characters.

I usually try to avoid comparing remakes to their originals, as I’ve always felt that each film should stand alone and be judged on its own. But when the remake throws out every good part of the original, that’s a problem. In the original film, the relationships among the high school kids who called themselves the Wolverines and banded together to fight the Russians were real and made you care about them. There was the sibling rivalry between the two brothers, budding romances, the cold and aggressive rebel as well as the military veteran who joins their group and becomes a father figure and helps them.

All of these key relationships are there in the remake, but are barely addressed, and as a result, there is no bond created between the audience and the characters. All you have left is a bunch of chicks and dudes aimlessly running around playing war. There was even a key moment between the leader of the Wolverines and the lead villain in the original that brought emotional depth to the story but here, the villain is portrayed as an incompetent caricature. Rather than character development, we get big explosions and silly, unrealistic action sequences.

Speaking of unrealistic action sequences, the Wolverines in this remake sure are fast learners. Within weeks they are able to defeat highly trained soldiers while suffering minimum casualties. Not to mention they are somehow able to walk freely in their occupied city crawling with North Korean soldiers despite their being well known to be rebel fighters and seem to have an endless supply of food and weapons. And how are they keeping all of their electronics charged up in the mountains? Nothing in this movie makes any sense.

“Red Dawn” strips away everything positive from the original film and leaves a mess devoid of any soul or fun.

“Red Dawn,” 93 minutes, is Rated PG-13 and opens in theaters today.