Culture Fail: Red Dawn Reboot Deserves the Boot

Red Dawn: Failed RebootOh man. I just saw the Red Dawn reboot. Oh man, oh man, oh man. I don’t even…First of all, America gets invaded by North Korea. NORTH KOREA. That’s like Channing Tatum being toppled from his People’s Sexiest Man Alive title by Steve Buscemi with a full-body rash. They try to explain it away, like, “You don’t understand—Steve started working out a lot; then dermatitis got real trendy; then his wife was the only one who voted; so it actually makes sense if you think about it…” but they’re not fooling anyone.

OK, OK, full disclosure here. Red Dawn (2012) has a crazy backstory. It was actually filmed back in 2009, then languished unseen while its production company struggled with bankruptcy. And boy, can you tell. Since then, a lot has happened. Hollywood began to understand the importance of overseas box offices—that’s why the enemy is North Korea and not China, like it was originally filmed. Make the enemy China, and no one in China is going to pay to see your movie. Let’s hope the expense of all that CGI to change Chinese flags to North Korean flags pays off (I hope it doesn’t).

Also, Hollywood used to be a veritable wasteland for tough girls, but since female-driven Hunger Games and Brave proved to be box office behemoths in 2012, chicks are finally getting in on the action. Sadly, Red Dawn totally missed that boat (I kind of expected that, when all the guys on the poster wore layers of army jackets and the chick wore a tank top and an open flannel shirt). There are three gun-toting girls in the newest Red Dawn, and only one’s badassery is not tempered by a lame damsel-in-distress subplot or an interest in her boo so acute that it defies her life-threatening reality. The loner sisters who had their own vendettas in the original Red Dawn (1984) are nowhere to be found. If you’re a chick who wants to watch a film that makes you feel tough, put on some eye black and rent G.I. Jane.

And another thing [SPOILER ALERT]: it’s hard to be post-racial when the group of kids starts out made up of 4/9 minorities, but at the end of the film is 0/4. I guess in Hollywood that counts as progress.

Lastly, there’s an inextricable problem with Red Dawn (2012) that can’t be explained away by its three years in cold storage. The guerilla tactics of the Wolverines (the band of teens that escapes into the woods and sabotages the North Korean invaders) are too familiar now. America’s War on Terror of the past decade, and the resulting thousands of American deaths and horror abroad, make it hard to escape into a movie that exalts hiding in the mountains, planting bombs in stores, and killing soldiers for weapons. That tone-deafness is just like unbuttered movie theater popcorn: hard to swallow.

by Mica Habarad