I have a confession to make: I've never seen the original Red Dawn.
I know. It's embarrassing.
This is the kind of movie that is totally in my wheelhouse, so I have no explanation as to its absence from my film vocabulary. Thankfully it's streaming on Netflix right now, so I plan to rectify the situation this weekend. Maybe even tonight.
In the meantime, we've finally got our first look at the remake, a movie that has been sitting on a shelf for three years now:
Usually movies get neglected that long because they're flat out bad, but that's not necessarily the case here; much like Cabin In The Woods, this was one of the last movies made by MGM before the company went belly-up, thus delaying its eventual distribution. Cabin In The Woods (also starring Chris Hemsworth) was jaw-droppingly awesome, which was little surprise as it was the brainchild of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. On the other hand, Red Dawn is from long-time stunt co-ordinator and first time director Dan Bradley, so while the action looks appropriately badass (that image of the sky full of planes with what I assume to be enemy troops parachuting into the suburbs is creepily cool) the rest of the film still feels like a crapshoot.
Here's what doesn't fill me with hope: MGM seems to have gone through with their cockamamie scheme to change the film's villain from China to North Korea completely in post. To be clear, the film didn't do major reshoots, as the decision was made almost two years after principal photography ended. Instead they've simply re-edited scenes and digitally changed various flags and signage from Chinese symbols to North Korean symbols. (This is evidenced by the flags visible in the background which prominently feature a red star in a grey circle.) And what motivated this change? They want to be able to sell the movie in Chinese markets and the Chinese government is not a fan of western films with Chinese villains, as evidenced by the complete removal of Chow Yun Fat from the third Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.
Here's what does fill me with hope: they've got a great cast. Hemsworth has proven his big screen worth, Adrianne Palicki's work on Friday Night Lights was utterly fantastic, and I'm a long-time fan of the Joshes Hutcherson and Peck. Isabel Lucas is certainly easy on the eyes, and I'm curious to see her portray a character that doesn't have a giant robot tongue. And while I'm annoyed that they seem intent to make Connor Cruise a thing (nepotism ahoy!) the grizzled face of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aka The Comedian aka Papa Winchester is always a welcome addition.
The movie hits theaters this Thanksgiving. Follow me @donniedarker for the eventual live-tweet while I pop my Red Dawn cherry...