Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Red Dawn (2012)

Trivia question:  When is it a good idea to remake a film from the 80’s that starred C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, and Charlie Sheen?  If you have seen the debacle that is Red Dawn (2012), then you know the answer is never.  What makes the experience of watching this remake all the more painful is that this disaster could have been avoided as this title was in the can and on the shelf for two years while MGM straightened out its financial woes.  Still, had things not worked out for the struggling studio, the world would never have seen Skyfall and therein lies the silver lining.

In case you were not able to watch the original, here is the premise of its progeny.  Russian backed North Korean forces have invaded the United States but in the upper northwest, one Marine on leave and a small band of high school students form a unit they dub the Wolverines and engage in guerilla tactics to derail the invading forces and shift the balance of the war.  If I have not lost you yet, now comes the part of the review where I tell you what was wrong with the film.

The premise is unintentionally ridiculous.  Movies don’t have to be grounded in reality, but when they go for this kind of vibe, then there better be enough there to suspend your disbelief.  Needless to say, reality gets thrown out the window about ten minutes into this movie.  The only way the film could have been salvaged is if the creative team went for camp – some self-awareness that beneath the bullets, the bad acting, and the painful dialogue, that none of this was a serious and that tongue was firmly planted in cheek.  But no, they tried to play things straight. 

The acting does very little to help the brutal plot.  I like Chris Hemsworth as an actor – particularly as Thor, but I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we probably won’t ever see him starring opposite Meryl Streep in some dramatic character piece.  With his limited range and the horrible script, Hemsworth as Jed Eckert of the U.S. Marine Corp. comes off as nothing more than a cinematic gunning-toting stereotype.  And his was probably the best performance.  Working opposite Hemsworth is Josh Peck.  As Hemsworth’s brother Matt, Peck comes off as completely amateurish and redefines the meaning of bad acting.

As for the rest of the cast, Josh Hutcherson once again proves that he is not gifted in the acting department; Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Tanner continues his streak of cinematic clunkers (Watchmen, The Losers), and Adrianne Palicki has yet to prove that she is anything more than a very attractive woman.  Really, the work in this film from top to bottom is terrible and feels low rent.  I spent half the movie thinking that a good director could probably pick a bunch of people off the street and coach them up into a better collective performance.  Regardless, my guess here is that director Dan Bradley and his creative team weren’t exactly gunning for an awards season nod, but probably far more interested in doing this on the cheap.

So it should come as zero surprise that this movie is an absolute no.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it; it is a poorly made film, one that everyone involved should probably try to leave off their respective resumes.  If I had a choice between this film and Rock of Ages, I would begrudgingly pick this one, but if it were between this and a root canal, I would have to think long and hard about which I would choose.  That pretty much sums up the experience.  As for all you Chris Hemsworth fans out there, fear not.  He returns to the role for which he is best known (Thor: The Dark World) in November.  Here’s hoping that Marvel and the powers-that-be knock that one out of the park.

Standout Performance: Adrianne Palicki for being attractive.  That’s about all I can come up with for this film.


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