Red Dawn

 
Forgettable remake has lots of explosions, war action.
  • Review Date: November 20, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

A few kisses between teen and twentysomething couples. One couple flirts pretty heavily through most of the movie.

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

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.

What's the story?

RED DAWN is a remake of the iconic 1984 war drama about a group of high schoolers who band together to fight off a Communist invasion. Unlike the Cold War context of the original, the new version features the North Koreans as the enemy (originally it was the Chinese, but the studio decided to change the invading army's nationality, supposedly for marketing reasons) and Washington State as the setting. Between deployments, Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is home visiting his younger brother, high-school quarterback Matt (Josh Peck). When the North Koreans invade the morning after the Wolverines' big game, the Eckert brothers escape to their country house with their friends Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise). After assembling a tight crew of other young adults, Jed trains them all in military tactics to subvert the enemy.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This updated take on Red Dawn was filmed more than two years before its release, long before Hemsworth wielded his godly hammer in Thor and Hutcherson competed in The Hunger Games. With their box-office appeal, there's no doubt audiences of a certain age will want to see them fight as very different young warriors. Unfortunately, the remake, while passable for those solely interested in eye candy holding guns and spouting patriotic cheers, is in every way inferior to the original. 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 Matt's beautiful but personality-less girlfriend, Erica). 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Red Dawn's violence. How does it compare to what you've seen in other action movies? In horror movies? Which has more impact, and why?

  • The movie's antagonists were originally the Chinese, but the studio changed the enemy to the North Koreans. Why do you think the change was made? Do you think the Koreans pose a real threat to America? Does that affect how you experience the movie?

  • For those familiar with the original, how does this iteration compare to the '80s version? Some critics have accused the remake of being racist, both in its depiction of Asians and the way it kills off all the kids of color. What do you think? 

  • Talk about the enduring popularity of remakes. Does this take on Red Dawn seem as relevant as the first film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 21, 2012
DVD release date:March 5, 2013
Cast:Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson
Director:Dan Bradley
Studio:FilmDistrict
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language

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Kid, 11 years old November 23, 2012
age 11+
 

explosive

it has a lot of explosive stuff, but really good
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviebuff6996 November 25, 2012
age 14+
 

Red Dawn the remake is an improvement over the original

Red Dawn the remake is actually an improvement over the original. I say this because the action scenes, the explosions, and even the acting are better than the original. This one is serious but has some really funny moments in the middle of the movie. With the original there was nothing funny in it. Now Content wise the remake has potential offensive content. The language consists of between 55-65 curses and includes about twenty-five s-words, one f-word towards the end of the movie, and an obscene hand gesture. The action is frequent once the North Koreans land. It is more carnage than blood though. The movie doesn’t have any suggestiveness in it so that is a plus. Overall I say you should see Red Dawn the remake if you like war movies, action movies or liked the original.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Adult Written bySlaidlaw November 24, 2012
age 14+
 

Awesome movie

Really good I think its awesome and a cool movie. This should be kids for 14 and up because of its language.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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