I will still be taking a platoon of earnest rag tag spitballers, a few troublemaking squirrel hunters, and at least three fully articulate and cunningly adept Eagle Scouts to the show this weekend despite the apparent selling out….. WOLVERINES !
(WFB) The new Red Dawn remake is a fine example of a number of dispiriting trends in the filmmaking industry. The picture was based on a brand name instead of a heartfelt original tale. The studios mutilated it in order to placate Chinese Communists. And it was served up to audiences that studios assume will eat whatever they are served.
Ever-increasing budgets and declining domestic audiences have forced studios to look for box office success abroad. “Aimed at Bangkok and Bangalore as much as at Bangor,” David Denby recently wrote in the New Republic, “our big movies have been defoliated of character, wit, psychology, local color.” He’s right.
But it is not only the adult dramas championed by Denby that have been sapped of their vitality; action films, too, have seen plot and character sacrificed for commerce.
Just compare the original Red Dawn with its remake.
Made in 1984 for a budget of a little more than $4 million, John Milius’ story of teenage American partisans fighting a Communist invasion in the mountains of Colorado during World War III was a modest financial success, with a gross of more than $38 million.
Perhaps more importantly, the original Red Dawn annoyed all the right people. The New York Times review described it as “technically proficient, emotionally infantile, politically nuts.” The picture, like Rambo, became a cultural touchstone for Reagan’s America.
Starring a platoon of then-unknowns such as Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, Milius’ film, unlike its current iteration, at least had a plot that was somewhat plausible.
Unrest caused by a failed wheat harvest in Russia, along with the removal of nuclear weapons from Europe and communist victories in Central America, left the United States vulnerable to a Russian first strike and invasion through Mexico.
There was a dash of humor, but this was a dark picture. Red Dawn held the Guinness record for most acts of violence per minute and hinted that its female protagonists suffered a brutal rape at the hands of Communist invaders. Though Red Dawn may have been overwrought, it at least had the decency to take itself, and the audience, seriously.
Work began on a remake of the cult classic in 2008. From the start, it looked like a pure cash grab by the studio: combine a known property with a big budget and wait for the cash to roll in. (continue reading)