Red Dawn appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer offered a mix of ups and downs.
Sharpness usually fared well. Despite some mild edge haloes, the image showed pretty good delineation, with only a sliver of softness on display.
I saw no signs of shimmering or jaggies, but print flaws became a moderate distraction. While these didn’t dominate, the movie displayed more than a few instances of specks, marks and blemishes. Though not a messy presentation, the image should’ve been cleaner.
Colors showed pretty good representation, as the film’s natural palette came across well. The movie’s heavier than expected grain could diminish their clarity a little, but the hues were one of the better aspects of the transfer.
Blacks also seemed deep and dark, and shadows looked smooth. Low-light shots offered clean imagery without too much density. Though a lot of the image looked quite good, the negatives dropped this to a “C+”.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield of Red Dawn showed a consistently positive sense of environment. The forward channels mildly dominated the piece, and they presented nice delineation and separation.
The front speakers remained in use through the majority of the movie, and they created a setting that was fairly lively and realistic. Elements blended smoothly, and pieces moved cleanly across the channels.
The surrounds appeared more active than I expected for a film of this era, as they presented lots of material for both quiet and loud sequences. The action scenes brought the surrounds to life, and other segments used all five channels with great effectiveness. Overall, the soundfield worked well to create a relatively immersive environment.
Audio was also fine given its age. Speech seemed reasonably natural and concise, without notable problems. Music appeared vivid and dynamic and showed nice depth and punch.
Effects seemed solid. Occasional signs of distortion occurred and some components were less than natural – especially gunshots - but most of these elements offered good clarity and accuracy, with pretty strong low-end as necessary. For a track from 1984, this one worked fairly well.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get five video programs. A Look Back runs one hour, nine minutes and eight seconds as it provides notes from casting director Jane Jenkins, editor Thom Noble, production designer Jackson De Govia, and actor Doug Toby. The program examines the film’s premise and story/characters, thoughts about director John Milius, cast and performances, training and action scenes, production design, camerawork and editing, and the flick’s reception/legacy.
With only four participants in tow, “Look” comes with a limited perspective. Still, it manages to give us a mix of good notes about the film, and it movies pretty quickly given its length. While I won’t call this a great program, it offers a nice variety of details.
Next comes Red Dawn Rising. It lasts 23 minutes, two seconds and features director John Milius and actors Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, C. Thomas Howell, and Powers Boothe. “Rising” looks at the script and its path to the screen, story/characters, Milius’ impact on the production, cast and performances, and the movie’s impact.
Created for a 2007 DVD, “Rising” brings in the “star power” absent from “Look”. It lacks the same amount of time, obviously, but it touches on the important subjects in a reasonably positive manner. It’s good to hear from some of the film’s bigger names and this becomes a tight little overview.
With the nine-minute, 49-second Training for WWIII, we hear from Milius, Sheen, Thompson, Swayze, CIA film liaison Chase Brandon and military advisor Dale Dye. “WWIII” examines the actors’ training, military aspects of the movie, and shooting combat sequences. The show offers a nice synopsis of the topics it examines.
Building the Red Menace goes for nine minutes, 37 seconds and offers details from Milius, Swayze, director of photography Ric Waite, and tank designers/builders Renaud and Andre Veluzat. This show relates aspects of the military elements created for the film, and it gives us another engaging and informative piece.
Finally, WWIII Comes to Town takes up 13 minutes, 27 seconds with info from Milius, Swayze, Waite, Sheen, and location residents Edward Tsyitee, Holly Simpson, Mykle Williams,loyd Chavez, Angelica Vigil and Judee Williams. “Town” mainly discusses the production’s stay in Las Vegas, New Mexico and aspects of the shoot there. It’s the least interesting of the featurettes, but it still gives us a smattering of useful details.
Dated and dull, Red Dawn hasn’t aged well. The movie comes across as a silly fantasy without nuance or impact. The Blu-ray offers erratic picture with fairly good audio and a largely informative collection of supplements. Red Dawn offers a turgid stab at an action flick.