Movie Review: Red Dawn (2012)

Not Too Shabby

The original Red Dawn, released in 1984, was a very influential movie in my teen years, and I'd venture to guess that many of today's 35-55 year old preppers got affected the same way as I did.  In 1984, we had all grown up with the threat of nuclear war and the ongoing Cold War.  Central America was under a growing Soviet presence.  Vietnam was a very recent memory.  The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan using troop transports disguised as Aeroflot commercial aircraft.  Red Dawn brought our deepest fears to life, and gave us hope and motivation.  It showed us the evils of gun registration when the Cuban commander told a lackey to go to the gun shops and collect all of the Form 4473s to find out who in town had bought a gun.  It also warned of the threat from our enemies posing as Mexican illegal aliens to cross our borders.  I watched it at the now-defunct Ridge Cinema several times over that fall as it solidified my survivalism thoughts that had begun forming through American Survival Guide, Jerry Ahern's The Survivalist series, Tappen's Survival Guns and Clayton's Life After Doomsday. The following summer, when I turned 17 and decided to enlist in the Marine Corps, I spent time with my cousin in Idaho and watched Red Dawn many times on his family's VCR while thinking about the Pacific Northwest as an ideal location from which to lead the resistance against the Commies.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when word came down that the long-rumored remake of Red Dawn was in the works... this time with the Red Chinese as the invaders.  A couple of years ago, word came that the movie had been on the shelf while the production company was going through restructuring.  More recently, we found out that the Chinese now owned the movie company, so the invaders were being digitally changed to be North Koreans.  My expectations for the movie were low, but hopeful that they did not make a complete disaster of it.  As the movie's release approached, and I heard more about it and saw some trailers, my hopes were raised a bit.

Well, today my wife and I went to see it.  Thumbs up all the way around.  It is a really good movie that pays tribute to the original without copying it completely... and definitely without mocking it.  The characters were basically the same as the original, but the details were different.  I was doubtful that they could make the North Koreans a believable invader, but as the story goes along, we learn more about the war and the NK allies, and it becomes somewhat plausible.  The action was great (although it was more "stunty" than realistic).  There were even a couple of humorous spots, including one at the local Subway restaurant and one with a deer that pokes a bit of fun at the original.  When one of the kids shouted "Wolverines" after a successful attack, several in the theater cheered.  The end of the movie was different than the original, but actually ended on a more positive note.

Go see Red Dawn.  If you saw the original in the theater, take your kids to this one then watch the original together.  Talk to them about the state of the world in the mid 80s and how Red Dawn affected you, then talk about the state of the world today and what the new movie means.  Or, just get a Coke and a bag of popcorn and enjoy a great action flick.



  1. Maybe my popcorn was too salty, but it was a C+ movie to me. It did expose a new generation to the movie, sort of like the remake of carrie is going to do in a few months.

    The Subway scene was funny, it was totally acceptable to just have some sandwiches while there is an occupying force outside the door... and no one does anything when the insurgents rush in. The bucket full of soda was SPOT on.

  2. I was 4 when the original movie came out in theaters, but it ran on UHF and basic cable plenty, reaching at least one younger generation. Currently debating whether to go see the new one.


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