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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages about teamwork, sticking together, kid empowerment, and standing up for what you believe in, as well as promoting self defense and acting by any means necessary to wreak havoc on the enemy. Jed, a Marine, compares the Wolverines to the insurgents in the Middle East who fought against the American army, providing the case for fighting occupying forces. The movie proves that even one flea can drive a dog crazy (i.e. a small rebel group can make a difference in a David-vs-Goliath fight).
Positive Role Models
The Wolverine clan makes sacrifices in order to try to bring down their enemy. Jed is a natural leader and tries to teach the teens around him what it means to be a soldier. Matt will do anything to save the girl he loves -- but, by doing so, he's responsible for getting a friend killed. The Wolverines all have to overcome their fear of death.
Violence & Scariness
Several characters die (even main ones, as in the original movie). The body count includes people who are shot and others who are killed in explosions and during hand-to-hand combat. A firing squad kills a father and a bunch of people who are considered a threat to the North Korean government. Lots of explosions/crashes -- cars flip, there are lots of flames/fires, and combatants engage in gun battles. But none of it is very bloody (except when a wound is being sewn up). Some jarring camerawork makes the action feel even more frenzied.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses between teen and twentysomething couples. One couple flirts pretty heavily through most of the movie.
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Language includes one "f--k," plus "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "d--k," "prick," "p---y," "damn," "bitch," "goddamn," "oh my God," and insults like "motard," "traitor," and "coward."
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Products & Purchases
Subway has a prominent placement, and cars driven in the movie include Ford, Dodge RAM, Chevy, and GM. Other brands include Rolling Rock beer, Pepsi, and Hammermill paper.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Underage teens drink on a few occasions.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Red Dawn is a remake of the 1984 teen-soldier drama. As in the original, there are several battle scenes that feature character deaths (mostly from shooting, but also from explosions and hand-to-hand combat). There's a some strong language ("s--t," "ass," "bitch," and one "f--k") and a couple of passionate kisses, but it's really the body count and some iffy racial issues (all of the minority characters die, and the North Korean enemies were originally Chinese) that are most likely to raise eyebrows. But the movie, especially if seen in conjunction with the original, could still provide some good discussion fodder about the historical threat of Communism versus today's more technological threats. And you can expect teens to be interested, thanks to stars Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Even Hemsworth's authoritative charm can't save the lackluster material and overly subdued performances (including a truly terrible acting job by Isabel Lucas as Erica). With Hemsworth's and Hutcherson's box-office appeal, there's no doubt audiences of a certain age will want to see them fight as very different young warriors. Unfortunately, this remake, while passable for those solely interested in eye candy holding guns and spouting patriotic cheers, is in every way inferior to the original. Props are in order, however, for Jeffrey Dean Morgan and two other 40-something actors who show up for the final act as the Wolverines' experienced soldier backup.
It's not just nostalgia speaking to prefer the original; some remakes do offer an inventive twist or a realistic modernization (21 Jump Street and Let Me In come to mind). But here the powers that be decided it was OK to digitally alter the invading army's nationality from Chinese to North Korean (so they're saying all East Asians look alike?) and to not-so-subtly kill off every ensemble member of color. It's almost like watching a stereotypical horror movie -- every single black and Hispanic teen meets his or her end, but nearly all the white kids survive. And while original Red Dawn stars Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen had an authentic emotional connection and conversations, the brotherly talks between Hemsworth and Peck here feel forced and forgettable, much like the movie itself.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.