Wed 21 Nov 2012
1984 was a magical year for me. At school, I enjoyed Ms. Chanda’s second grade class immensely and she remains one of my favorite teachers ever (although my memory sucks and if I got her name wrong I apologize). In baseball news, the San Diego Padres made the World Series (sadly losing to the Detroit Tigers) and my own little league team, ironically named the Tigers, placed second in the league (though I think the Blue Jays won that league). And in the film world, a veritable treasure trove of movies would go on to make a lasting impact on me; whether at that time or in the coming years as I was able to watch and/or understand them more fully.
A peek at a movie list I once compiled on Facebook is more complete but just to name a few of the gems that came out in 1984, there’s “Beverly Hills Cop”, “The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”, “Ghost Busters”, “Gremlins”, “Police Academy”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, “The Terminator”, “The Last Starfighter”, “This is Spinal Tap”, etc., etc. So many iconic films were released that year and they would shape my pop culture viewpoint significantly.
Of course, this trip down nostalgia lane comes because of the latest Hollywood remake of one of my childhood favorites, also from 1984: “Red Dawn”. The original starred Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson, and Powers Booth. It was the product of the very real tension brought about by the U.S./USSR relations of the time and it wouldn’t be until the Soviet collapse of 1991 that the Cold War would cease being the foremost military threat on American minds. The film spoke to those fears and came about from writer/director John Milius, who came under fire for making the film as it was perceived by many critics as jingoistic Republican and NRA propaganda. It was the first to be released with a PG-13 rating and at the time was considered the most violent movie by the Guinness Book of Records, due to the frequency of the violence more so than the content.
That was 1984. Now it’s 2012 and Hollywood has ignorantly released a remake/retooling of “Red Dawn” and here’s the short version: It’s not good, plays out like a TNT original movie, and should only be seen while inebriated some weekend afternoon while the remote lays out of your reach as you sink into the couch. What follows is a string of SPOILERS and dirty words; For anyone who finds profane language offensive or may be reading this at work or in a public space, I’m giving you fair warning about what’s coming up in this review.
To give some buffer between the carefully crafted words above and the soon-to-come venting, here’s some trivia about the 2012 version of “Red Dawn”. It went into production in 2009, was scheduled to be released in 2010, got shelved for MGM’s financial issues and then sat once again in 2011 when changing the villains’ nationality from Chinese to North Korean in order to have access to China’s box office (because why should integrity, even in a script this terrible, be a part of this bastardization).
Simply put, if I had two words to say to those responsible for making this movie it would be: FUCK YOU.
First off, while I think Chris Hemsworth does a decent enough job of stepping into the shoes of the late Patrick Swayze (RIP and I hope you’re kicking ass in that Road House in the sky), he gets ZERO FUCKING HELP from the script, director, fight choreographer, or majority of the cast.
Playing his brother (the Charlie Sheen role) is Josh FUCKING Peck. He burst onto the scene in 2008′s “The Wackness” but whatever goodwill he earned there is more than gone now. His performance is so FUCKING BAD, he should have been in the last “Twilight” movie. He mopes around from scene to scene, looking strung out and on a scale of 1 to 10, adds a negative 2 to the quality of the film.
Most of the other actors playing the other teen soldiers aren’t much better. Connor Cruise should tell his Dad to be more observant when helping him read scripts. Adrianne Palicki is somewhat palatable in her performance but might as well have ad-libbed everything because the script wasn’t worth wiping your ass on.
Then there’s Josh ‘Why Didn’t I do The Hunger Games First So I Wasn’t In This Piece of Shit’ Hutcherson. He’s playing a badly revamped version of the C. Thomas Howell character. What made that role so interesting in the original was watching him go cold after learning his parents die, he takes comfort only in the killing of his enemies and becomes the most ruthless of the group. Here, he’s a PUSSY and shares none of the strength that should be so evident.
Speaking of hunger games, would somebody give Isabel Lucas a FUCKING CUPCAKE? She looks like some Kate Moss wannabe and considering she starts off this way in the movie, you can’t chalk it up to whatever amount of time she ends up spending in a faux-concentration camp that the
Chinese North Koreans set up in town.
Moving onto problems within the structure of the “film” itself, what gave the original such an epic feel was how well Milius laid out the length of time these kids were hiding out in the mountains and struggling to cope with the harsh winter weather as well as engage the invading military. This has no sense of time and looks to take place within the span of a few weeks. If it weren’t for a pathetic attempt to montage the training of the teens under Hemsworth’s supervision, I would have said it all took place in the course of a weekend.
Another sticking point is bringing in Jeffrey Dean Morgan for the Powers Booth role. This casting made the most sense of all, especially considering Morgan’s propensity for playing characters who don’t make it to the end credits. However, they retooled it so he was a special forces jerk off who brings two other “elite” soldiers with him in some cockamamie attempt to steal the MacGuffin; which in this case is a secure communications device that looks like an 80′s brick cell phone (if this was meant to be one of the few homages to the original, EAT ME).
This brings in the plot point that the
Chinese North Koreans used an EMP device (electromagnetic pulse) to wipe out our electronics and invade with ease. It supposedly knocked out all our fancy technology … except for FUCKING televisions and Peck’s FUCKING cell phone. Thanks screenwriters for thinking we’re such FUCKING morons we wouldn’t notice … or that we wouldn’t notice that the lighting grid still FUCKING works or that the FUCKING refrigerators at Subway (in a not so subtle product placement scene) would still keep all those choice meats nice and unspoiled.
The villain is ruined as well. Gone is the notion from the original that one of the invaders has the ability to humanize the conflict. In the remake the
Chinese North Korean Captain is just a heartless SOB supposedly with great military tactics but unable to corral a small group of teens. I realize this film isn’t in 3D (THE ONE THING I’M THANKFUL FOR) but was is too much trouble to make it more than one dimensional?
Really, the bottom line here is that there is going to be a wide variety of opinions. The underlying FUCKING TRUTH is that the 2012 travesty they call “Red Dawn” is not a good movie. At best, it’s a distraction; not unlike infomercials or the crap they play on a myriad of cable channels to further justify calling the television an Idiot Box.
If you’ve never seen the original, first of all, shame on you. Second, that’s going to be the only hope you have of not finding every change they make to the movie inane and pointless. A friend who graciously accompanied me to the screening, and had never seen the ’84 version, said “I liked it. It was funny.”; but all of that humor came because the film was so bad she was laughing AT the film, the “jokes” mostly come from awful dialogue and nonsensical developments. I never got the impression she’d tell someone she liked to go out and see the movie.
Still, not knowing the original doesn’t improve the SHITTY quality of the action (shaky-cam for nearly everything, ooh how original), the SHITTY quality of the acting, the SHITTY quality of the script, the SHITTY quality of the directing, or the SHITTY quality of everything else in the film. But it will keep you from feeling like your soul was violated.
If you’ve seen the original, no matter if you share such a strong attachment to it or not, then watching “Red Dawn” be reTOOLed in this manner will either be mildly sad or FUCKING IRRITATING. I didn’t know it was possible to sigh so much until I watched this movie and just kept rolling my eyes and trying not to yell out what a ridiculous FUCKING WASTE OF TIME it all was. The only reason this doesn’t get a zero is because technically the movie has a beginning, middle, and end; basically ending up with the quality of a made-for-cable movie though I deducted another point for PISSING ME OFF.
I’m sure some of you are wondering why I saw it in the first place, it’s clear they were going to have a hard time gaining any sense of approval. The answer is that instead of simply ignoring it and letting Hollywood continue to FUCKING RUIN my memories of childhood, I think it’s important for people to let it be known that there are some lines that shouldn’t be FUCKING crossed.
How hard is it to write a movie about a group of teens fighting back against military agressors? Why do you need to associate it with a prior film to make that happen? To keep the rights to the original film? To hope you can fool fans of the original into the theater purely out of morbid curiosity?
The lazy green-lighting process that’s become the norm in Hollywood is FUCKING RIDICULOUS and the only way to stop it is for audiences to stop being FUCKING SHEEP. It’s all about the money. If you don’t want more sparkly vampire movies, stop paying for them. If you don’t want Michael Bay to keep bending the Autobots over and FUCKING THEM UP THE ASS, stop forking over that cash. If you want quality films with character development, original ideas, and an ounce of thought behind it all, plunk your money down for those movies instead.
The sad thing is that as the lowest common denominator line continues to descend, we really are headed for a world like that depicted in writer/director Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”. It can’t be too far off when the #1 movie in the world will just be some guy’s ass farting for 90 minutes. Hell, look at the success of recent live-action Adam Sandler movies.
As a film critic, I try and try to steer people towards quality cinema and avoid the bad. I don’t want to walk into a theater and be annoyed for two hours. It’s fun every once in a while to get a crappy movie that you can just poke fun at but the frequency at which these PILES OF SHIT are entering and exiting theaters is rising. We have only ourselves to blame, and because I don’t typically pay for films, I feel somewhat more justified in not blaming myself. Nothing’s going to change until the powers that be see a change in their bottom line. Until then, they’re just going to keep SHITTING on us and using the extra few bucks they make from fake IMAX and bad 3D to wipe their asses. And I’m tired of having to shower away all the BULLSHIT.