4 Reasons Why RED DAWN Won't Rule - Mania.com

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4 Reasons Why RED DAWN Won't Rule

Crying Wolverines Won't Help

By Bob Trate     September 09, 2009

When Red Dawn arrived in theaters in 1984 at the height of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan had everyone hating the Soviets. Our modern era creates a huge problem for the believability of the new Red Dawn movie. Sure we can believe in guerilla soldiers fighting for their cause. It is on the news from time to time. Hell, they even made a movie about it but today here in America? The following are four reasons why the new Red Dawn will not rule.


1. Believability

Why It Worked, Circa 1984:

As mentioned before, the Cold War was in full swing and the level of trust for the Soviets (that’s Soviet Union now known as the Russian Federation) was practically non-existent. Of course, we could believe that the Soviets would turn the communist-minded countries of Latin America against us. The non-usage of nuclear weapons is also a no brainer. If you are going to try and conquer the world why destroy it first? New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are great places for aliens to show up and take over the world though it is nothing but a spectacle. If you are in fact here to cut America in two and feed a hungry continent take the bread basket of America. This obviously works not only for the story but for the film makers. It keeps the locations and costs to a minimum. 

The cast for the original film was populated with relatively unknown actors. Sure you had Powers Boothe and Ben Johnson in supporting roles but only Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell had big success with TheOutsiders. Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen all became big stars after the film was released in different projects. These unknown and future stars gave the film believability. You weren’t looking at the Brad Pitt of that era starring in this film. This further illustrates the illusion that these are just regular children trying to survive. This could be your son, your daughter, your brother fighting for you and your memory.

Why It Won’t Work, Circa 2010:
Today Hollywood cross promotes every project so that when one actor is promoting a film he is already bombarded with multiple questions about the next one. In short there are few unknown actors anymore. Already the new Captain Kirk’s father, Chris Hemsworth, who also will be playing Thor will also be stepping into Patrick Swayze’s role of Jed Eckert. While watching the film we’ll be looking at the new Thor not some older brother trying to protect the only family he has left.
The new film is already in comparison and probably none of it has been shot yet. No the irony is not lost on us. We’ll have constant updates and Tweets about the production of this film as the hype machine starts rolling. In 1983–1984 there was a trailer, nothing else. The premise sucked us in because it was constantly on our minds, the threat of World War III. Today Americans are more bothered by the price of gas, why they don’t have the latest technology and why their fantasy sports team is tanking. An invasion of the United States would also require a military larger and better then our own. We hate to sound like proud Americans but that just isn’t going to happen. 


2. Cheesiness


Why It Worked, Circa 1984:

The “Wolverines!” cry worked in 1984 despite it being an incredibly cheesy moment at the heart of a montage. A rally cry for the high school would only be natural for those same students to use in the war against their oppressors. It also isn’t run into the ground. Director John Milius and co-writer Kevin Reynolds got even more play out of the battle cry by spray painting it everywhere. It was subtle and perfect; something that Hollywood has long forgotten how to do.

Why It Won’t Work, Circa 2010:
The Wolverine battle cry is one of the most recognizable battle cries in all of film history. The cry and film were even used by the United States military in the capturing of Saddam Hussein. Targets Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2 were designated in “Operation Red Dawn.” Pop culture be damned. Even the military loves this movie. It works in the film with the montage and the quick back up explanation by the Nicaraguan Captain to Bratchenko (Vladek Sheybal). Today even the battle cry for G.I. Joe is toned down. Audiences aren’t going to tolerate some kid standing on top of a bluff, totally exposed screaming “Wolverines.” The audience would expect him to be shot for being so dumb. Take this and put it together with a viral marketing campaign that will have all of us sick of that battle cry come next September. Comic-Con alone next year will be spray painted with the wolverine logo everywhere and there will be people dressed up as Jed, Matt and Robert walking the halls. When it does actually happen in the film it will get more groans than cheers.


3. A Grey Villain

Why It Worked, Circa 1984:
Surprisingly enough it did work. In an era where it was us against them Red Dawn’s head “bad guy,” the Nicaraguan Captain (Judd Omen), is seen as more human than most villains. The film is as much his story as it is the kids. We hear a love letter between him and his sweetheart back home. He agonizes as the Soviets continue to slaughter innocent civilians, because of the repercussions. Then in the final moments of the film, the Nicaraguan Captain lets our two leads, broken and dying go. It says a lot about the Captain and his ability to be able to acknowledge what these two boys have gone through and identify with them as he too was once a rebel.
Why It Won’t Work, Circa 2010:
Today movie goers scream blood and a comeuppance for all the film’s “baddies” even if they are painted more grey than black. They are not interested in layered characters that have multiple facets to them. We are living in the age where there is a War on Terror and all our villains and heroes are black and white. Case in point Transformers 2 Revenge of the Fallen. Clear cut good guys and bad guys. Audiences want to cheer the heroes and boo the bad guys. If you think that answer is too clean and simple look at the TV show Heroes. Sylar (Zachary Quinto) was clearly established as the show’s villain. The show flourished when the audience had its clean cut killer. When Sylar was made more human the show faltered resulting in a mass confusion of the character and the ratings dropped. Season 3 only picked up again when the villain was re-established; when Sylar was pushed out of the light.


4. Remakes Suck so Let’s Sell the Original Instead

Why the Film Worked Circa, 1984, 1998, 2007:
The original Red Dawn was a fresh idea for cinema in 1984. It wasn’t about huge decisions being made in top secret bunkers. It was about those that were stuck behind enemy lines in the trenches. The true American spirit was displayed in Red Dawn and told from a totally unique perspective; the perspective of children. Fans of the film eagerly waited for then sought the 1998 DVD release. Though short on special features it was a chance to have the film in its best format to date. Of course, Hollywood wanted to double dip again releasing a collector’s edition in 2007. Finally special features worth getting excited about, considering there were barely any there before. 
Why Red Dawn is just a Commercial for the Blu-ray in 2010:
Outside of the occasional superhero reboot most remakes do nothing but remind us of how great the original film really was. The one thing that we are completely convinced of is that Hollywood does a lot of remakes to simply have a boost in DVD sales. The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the best examples of this. The film tanked at the box office but people both old and young had this curiosity to see the original. In the past couple of years there has been this huge DVD push to buy the original film all the while supplying the buyer with a free ticket to see the new movie. They get $15 to $20 out of you instead of just 10 for the new film. There isn’t a Blu-ray out yet but with the new film in production one or two new documentaries will be added to the collector’s edition supply of special features. What does all this mean? The studio is more interested in selling Red Dawn as a brand name then making a decent movie. Like a new version of Coke or Pepsi, we will all try it and then spit it out because they suckered us in with a familiar name while supplying a shoddy product. Then we, the consumer, will go back and buy the original in its best new format, Blu-ray.



Being a child of the eighties Red Dawn was just not another night at the movies. It was a survival guide if World War 3 ever became a reality. Make no doubt about it. Having the name Robert, a best friend named Matt and brother who knew how to hunt were only a few of the things he identified with in the film. Robert also writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Robert also participates in a pod cast that reviews movies, comics and celebrates all things geek. Check it out at You’ve Got Geek on You.com. Wolverines!


Showing items 1 - 10 of 26
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jedibanner 9/9/2009 5:57:11 AM

I believe everything written in there is true....especially # 3. The American mentality right now is at a stage where in movies, you can't show emotions of conflicts and cleverness, it's all about the good and the bad and being smart VS being stupid.

And the idea of the 21451342652762576538791th remake coming out is not too appealing also.

redhairs99 9/9/2009 7:11:49 AM

Only a slight disagreement here with one point, Robert.  The good and bad guys in Transformers weren't quite as clear cut as you make them sound.  Sure, we all knew who Optimus and Bumblebee were, but when all hell broke loose on the big screen with the CGI overload, at least for me, it was difficult to tell who was good and who was bad.  But, yes, in a more general sense I would agree that we knew Autobots = Good, Decepticons = bad.  I just had to bash the film once more since half the time there was so much CGI on screen that you couldn't tell what was going on except for Giant robot balls.  That was unnecessary.

avidfan 9/9/2009 7:19:04 AM

This movie was a centerpiece of my childhood.  The synergistic effect of Red Dawn and GI Joe's action figures (with a little Rambo too) defined the way I played with my friends.  We started a rag tag gang and were on call to fight the Ruskies.  Like every remake of a movie I loved, or even liked, I wonder what is it they are going to add to it.  I am surprised this movie is being remade.  I consider myself neither hawk nor dove, but believe Hollywood, despite all its violence, is essentially militant pacifist.  There is too the angle of political correctness too.  Can we have warring villian from a defined place who represents the idea of their people without calls for protest from some anti-defamation group?  Red Dawn does not work with some watered down rogue terrorist element trying to take over the US.  It truly needs to be a superpower or group of nations to make it believable.  That sense of isolation from the original, remember the radio codes - Jon has a long mustache, the chair is against the wall- really created an occupied place within middle America.  Can these be done while pandering to international movie markets?  I don't think so.  Oh yeah, my last fear is the same from the Star Trek reboot... will it be Red Dawn 90210?  Imagine, Jed drives his hybrid 4x4 to a big box store for ammo, bows, arrows, and hair jelly!

EagleManiac 9/9/2009 7:28:11 AM

I don't see the point in this one. It was made during a specific time in our country's history, and made sense back then, when the "Red Scare" was something we lived with every day. I can't see the Chinese attacking their most needed trade partner and destroying their own economy in the process. That would make no sense. To me, it's just another attmpt by Hollywood to cash in on a title. This movie will most likely stink, but I will reserve judgement until it comes out. Will I see it? Hell no....at least not in the theaters. It might be a rental movie or I'll just wait until it hits cable.

Now, if it was called "Towel Dawn" where a bunch of Islamic terrorists attack the U.S. in a brutal attack that hits the entire country, now MAYBE we'd have a good premise for the American populace to stand up against such terrorists and fight back. Otherwise, this is just another useless remake.

smoke62 9/9/2009 8:42:52 AM

 The late 'Ron "Superfly" O'Neal played the Nicaraguan Captain, not Judd Omen.

gauleyboy420 9/9/2009 9:48:20 AM

I think this can be a cool flick.

I loved the original, it scared the hell out of me and I think this if written well can convey a sence of the same fear. I mean for shits sake we wern't actually attacked in the 80's but we were 8 years ago. it's not that unplausable.


I see the value in some of your arguments but disagree with most of them and feel they're based on the nostalgia factor for you. AND I gotta ask...From point #1 Why do you hate to sound like a proud American? Theres nothing wrong with being proud of where you're from. and for every crap thing America has done it's done at least 1 good deed to match...We're a good country with good people, despite and except for Glen Beck (he is the offspring of a giant douche, and a turd sandwich)

I think we DO have unknown actors...SURE movie geeks might know everything about a movie before it comes out, but 90% of peeps DON'T. HELL Even I come here, but a lot of time I don't wanna spoil a movie so I don't read everything, and I don't "Tweet" (Thank God)

The guy that Played Kirk's dad isn't an unknown now because of 10 min of screen time? seriously?

...he's a fucking unknown.

AND to say what all audiences want based on what they wanted out of Transformers is kind of a stretch.

I like sympathetic villains, and they better damn sure scream the battle cry of WOOOLVERIIIIIINNNNEEEESSS!!!

themovielord 9/9/2009 9:49:55 AM

Smoke62 it's Judd Omen... according to IMDB

galaga51 9/9/2009 9:53:45 AM

Why attack us when asia will eventually own the US?  Maybe it's because we won't pay up.

Hobbs 9/9/2009 9:54:20 AM

eaglemaniac, thats a good point but how many people really know about the economics of the world?  Hell, the Chinese don't have to invade us they can just buy us at the rate we are going but I'm betting no one knows how much we even owe China...that is scary all by itself.

I'm okay with this remake only because i didn't think the first one was any good but then I was only 8 or so when it came out so by the time I watched it when I was a teen it already lost whatever appeal it had to begin with.

doublec 9/9/2009 10:25:18 AM

Yes, themovilelord, Judd Omen was some minor character called the Nicarauguan Captain. But the character  Trate is describing is not him. It is obviously the Major Bella character who was in fact played by Ron O'Neal. Bella was also described as being Cuban. Anyone who had actually seen the movie (Which Trate rather obviously hasn't) would have know this, as it's one of the standout performances in the movie.

And as to Trate's comment that "Ronald Reagan had us hating the Soviets"...  Wow. It amazes me how people can be completly and totally ignorant of things that happened just 25 years ago.

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