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

By:Bob Trate
Date: Wednesday, 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!