Title: Red Dawn (2012)
HTS Overall Score: 65.5
Red Dawn opens with nearly three minutes of pieced together television news clips firstly focusing on US relations with Russia, North and South Korea and cyber threats on the US. The newscast montage then switches its attention solely to North Korea and how it stands politically and militarily and in what direction it is headed toward on both fronts. The snippets culminate in the possible realization that North Korea with its fourth largest army, pardon the pun is gunning for the US in the form of an imminent invasion/attack. Now that you know what Red Dawn is insinuating, or rather bluntly suggesting will happen based on the video of uniformed army personnel goose stepping in rhythm, let us get to how the impeding chaos unfolds.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11194[/img]High school football quarterback Matt Eckert (Peck) and his team just lost the semi-final game, but it is hard to sympathize for the guy considering he has a loving and beautiful girlfriend, Erica (Lucas) with a boss Mustang. Matt’s older brother Jed (Hemsworth) is a Marine home on leave from Iraq. After a brief conversation the two hit the hay and come morning are forced awake by intense rumblings and loud outside noises. The brothers scramble to get outdoors to see what the commotion is and are greeted by a nightmarish sight of bombers flying overhead dropping paratroopers and jetfighters zooming by periodically shooting the aircraft out of the sky. The action comes fast and furious as pieces of wrecked planes fall to the ground and explode destroying homes in their wake. The paratroopers start shooting at innocents before they even land. Amongst the gunfire, car crashes and total disarray Jed and Matt manage to find their police officer father Tom (Cullen) who orders them to head to their cabin; they heed the wise advice and race to the forest picking up some familiar faces along the way. The group composed of five teenagers and Jed who instantly assumes the role of leader hunkers down for the night. The next day the situation only worsens when they witness from a distance the extreme and brutal nature of the hostile invaders. The violence against one of their own combined with a patriotic speech they hear from a loved one sparks a fire within the budding insurgents to not relent and fight the enemy even if it costs them their lives. It is a speech designed to evoked primitive instincts of survival and a feeling to rise up and defend your territory, but honestly if I were eighteen with absolutely no weapons and combat training I would be more inclined to just stay alive and not willingly make a stand against the occupants; not so in this case, everyone in the group wants to kick some North Korean butt.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11188[/img]Understandably Jed is going nowhere. As a trained Marine who has seen action in Iraq he knows what to do; cut to a boot camp in the woods montage of Jed teaching the teens how to shoot, grapple, duck and cover, and physically defend yourself. They all take to it like bees making honey. There’s nothing interesting or deeply involved within this montage (not the only one actually), add to that the generic look and personality of the teens and the result is boredom. I’m guessing Red Dawn wants to convey that in dire times and under suppressive circumstances anyone can be a soldier. Now having all the knowledge needed to rise up (I’m hoping you can sense my sarcasm) the group, eventually dubbing themselves the Wolverines (the same name as the high school football team) start to employ a variety of guerilla tactics to consistently and successfully beat the occupying army.
PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11189[/img]The video presentation in Red Dawn lives up to what you would expect on a high definition disc. A nighttime football game is very well lit with white uniforms looking brilliant with dirt and grime clearly evident. Indoor scenes suffer from very dark levels that frequently and noticeably wash out entire portions of the image. Outdoor scenes are vibrant with trees, flowers, and foliage looking bright with no noticeable post-editing; scenes in the woods look especially outstanding. Vehicles, buildings, clothing and set pieces are highly textured. Faces and skin tones look natural; five o’clock shadows look perfect. Explosions look typically Hollywood composed of robust oranges, reds and yellows and great looking billowing smoke. Despite the pesky black level problem Red Dawn is visually blemish free.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11190[/img]Unlike the story, dialogue, and actual performances, the audio presented in Red Dawn is fantastic. Every little bit of indoor environmental ambiance is remarkably crisp. Dialogue is perfect and mixed in nicely with background sounds and the score, but ultimately this movie is all about the action bringing with it an amazing sonic experience. Explosions are intense, shake the room and the residual bass reverberates throughout. Gunshots from automatic weapons to high caliber rifles sound accurate and completely fill the listening area. Directional effects are smartly utilized giving you a sense of being just outside the perimeter of the action and at times somewhere within hostile zone safely hidden. The score is perfectly incorporated into the picture, always adding to the adrenaline. The sub-woofer is integral to the experience and it works overtime rocking the room every time there is a boom. With the volume cranked up Red Dawn will put your finely tuned 5.1 system to the test and I highly recommend doing so.
Extras - NIL
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=11193[/img]There is undeniably a lot of action in Red Dawn and that’s about all the movie is good for because there are two aspects that are hard to swallow; one being the plausibility of this group of teens becoming hard-core militants who just after a few short lessons are brandishing firearms with the familiarity of using a smartphone and using these weapons at the level of a sniper. And two that North Korea would actually do such a preposterous thing as invade Northwestern America. Yes the military seems to be pretty monetarily invested in nuclear tests, but the regime doesn’t allow its own populous to flourish financially and as individuals. People are starving in North Korea all within the watching and judging eye of the world media, I highly doubt it is going to take its chances trying to topple (even partly) the American army with man power in the nine digits, what is there to gain? Couple that with how inept this particular faction of the North Korean army is, constantly being out strategized leading to numerous deaths that should have been reciprocated immediately and the result is a wartime movie with next to no substance and a load of indistinguishable explosions.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Connor Cruise, Josh Peck, Will Yun Lee
Directed by: Dan Bradley
Written by: Carl Ellsworth (screenplay), Jeremy Passmore (screenplay), Kevin Reynolds (story)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Runtime: 93 min
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 5, 2013
Buy Red Dawn (2012) on Blu-ray at Amazon
Watch the Official Trailer