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Dan Bradley
Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Isabel Lucas, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki, Connor Cruise, Edwin Hodge, Brett Cullen, Alyssa Diaz
Writing Credits:
Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore, Kevin Reynolds (story and 1984 screenplay), John Milius (1984 screenplay)

Welcome to the home of the brave.

Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), and Isabel Lucas (Immortals) deliver a full arsenal of pulse-pounding excitement in this explosive action-adventure! The unsuspecting citizens of Spokane, Washington, wake up one morning to the shocking sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky in a surprise attack on the United States. Soon the entire city is under enemy control, but a group of courageous teenagers has decided to fight back, by waging an all-out war against the invaders, to take back their town - and their freedom!

Box Office:
$65 million.
Opening Weekend
$14.276 million on 2725 screens.
Domestic Gross
$44.800 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/5/2013

• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Red Dawn [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 7, 2013)

Back in the mid-1980s, the original Red Dawn capitalized on Cold War fears of the Soviets. For the 2012 remake, we get a shift in geography, as the focus turns east.

A prologue shows that North Korea has recently displayed increased aggression before we head to Spokane, Washington, to meet the locals. We focus on the Eckert family, where high school senior Matt (Josh Peck) plays quarterback for the Warwick High Wolverines – and loses a big game due to his cockiness. Matt’s big brother Jed (Chris Hemsworth) comes home on leave from the Marines, but Matt doesn’t seem to be happy to see him due to personal issues we’ll later explore.

More pressing matters come to the fore when the power goes out around town. We soon discover the cause: the North Korean military launches an invasion and takes over the town. In the midst of the chaos and confusion, Matt and Jed ignore their personal issues to gather others and fight back. The North Koreans quickly gain dominance over the town, so the Eckert boys and pals execute their own rebellion.

Back in 1984, the notion that the Soviets could pop out of nowhere and effectively invade the US seemed ridiculous, and the shift to the North Koreans seems no less dopey. At least the original movie made sense as a reflection of the mid-1980s combination of anti-Soviet paranoia and pro-US jingoism; all at once, it mixed national fears and pride into one little package.

I’m not sure what audience the 2012 Dawn serves – Tea Partiers afraid that Obama won’t be able to stop aggressors? – so it lacks the same cultural resonance found in the original. The film’s mediocre box office returns might indicate that modern audiences don’t feel the same interest in the subject matter.

Or maybe moviegoers just didn’t want to see a pretty forgettable action flick. I do think that as absurd as it seems, the film comes with an interesting premise. The notion of US “citizen soldiers” on guard against foreign aggressors gives the flick an intriguing theme, and it occasionally provides decent action, but for the most part, it flails.

Like the original, the 2012 Dawn plays as a right-wing wet dream. It doesn’t attempt any form of irony after all this time; don’t expect any winking or nodding at the audience, as the movie plays it entirely straight.

Which I suspect was probably the right way to go given the inherent goofiness of the scenario. While I find the idea of the foreign invasion intriguing – and the filmmakers work overtime to convince us it could really happen – the concept remains tough to swallow and unbelievable at its core. Of course, the notion that terrorists would fly planes into landmarks sounded nuts pre-9/11, but at least that situation could be enacted by a handful of people, whereas the story of Dawn requires much larger-scale plotting and execution – so large scale that it would appear to be beyond the realm of possibility.

Even if I ignore the flaws of the basic narrative, Dawn still doesn’t function especially well. Essentially it suffers from its thinness. We get vaguely-sketched characters who act stupidly much of the time, and the movie throws out perplexing notions from start to finish.

For instance, it doesn’t seem clear why the North Koreans are so obsessed with finding the kids. Yeah, I get that they sort of “made it personal” with lead officer Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee), but it still doesn’t make much sense that they’d expend resources to find a few runaways who shouldn’t pose an obvious threat. Of course, once the “Wolverines” start their insurrection, the hunt becomes logical, but until then, it’s a strange waste of time.

Other basic leaps of logic occur. In one scene, we see an “official food distribution center” – right before the guys hop into a fully-functioning Subway. In the middle of this oppressive police state, a fast food chain continues to run unimpeded – and a mix of locals hang out there like on any other day? Really?

It doesn’t help when you actively want to slap one of the lead characters. Matt behaves in such a selfish, reckless manner for so much of the film that it becomes tough to connect with him. I realize that it’s part of his arc, but the choices damage our view of him too heavily; the movie makes him out to be so self-absorbed that he can’t rebound. Peck’s smirking performance makes it worse; even when he behaves bravely, he still looks like a snot that you want to whack upside the head.

Actually, of the entire cast, the only one who makes a dent is Lee. He gives Captain Cho a steely cool that turns him into the film’s most interesting role by far. I liked him so much more than the Wolverines that I started to want him to win!

As a brain-dead action flick, Red Dawn offers occasional thrills; if nothing else, it delivers a handful of reasonably well-staged action scenes. Unfortunately, it lacks anything more than that, so it becomes thin gruel without a consistently compelling story or engaging characters to carry it.

Bizarre coincidence footnote: as I noted, Red Dawn was left on the shelves for three years before it finally made it to cinemas. The same was true for The Cabin in the Woods - which also starred Chris Hemsworth. Granted, his presence – and his high profile as Thor in the mega-successful Avengers - probably was part of the reason the respective studios finally put out the flicks, but it’s still a funky connection between Cabin and Dawn.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus D

Red Dawn appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently strong presentation.

Sharpness seemed solid. Virtually no softness appeared, as the majority of the flick appeared accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws came along with this clean presentation.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette. Like most modern movies, teal and orange dominated. Cliché as they may be, these came across fine, as the Blu-ray represented them as intended. Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows were good; a few low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque, but that was another minor complaint. Overall, the movie looked very positive.

I also felt impressed with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected from an action movie like this, the soundscape provided a frequent assault on the ears. This was most obvious during the battle sequences, of course, as those used all five speakers to form an engrossing sense of place. Bullets zipped around the room, various vehicles moved cleanly and blasts exploded into our faces. Quieter scenes delivered a nice sense of ambience, but the louder sequences brought the best punch and created a sensational soundscape.

In addition, the mix boasted good audio quality. Music was rich and full, with crisp highs and taut lows. Effects followed suit, as the various military elements delivered strong and accurate reproduction, with some bold bass response. Speech was also concise and crisp throughout the film. This turned into a well-executed soundtrack.

The disc opens with ads for A Good Day to Die Hard, Skyfall, State of Play and The Marine 3: Homefront. We also get a disc with a DVD copy and a digital copy of Dawn. No other extras appear.

Given that 2012’s Red Dawn was finished and sat on a shelf for years before it finally hit movie screens, one might expect it to be a cinematic disaster. It’s not, but it’s also not a good film. While it has a handful of interesting segments, it’s too dopey and silly to work. The Blu-ray comes with excellent picture and audio but lacks supplements. Chalk up this remake as a misfire.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.4782 Stars Number of Votes: 23
3 3:
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