Red Dawn – 2012 (Blu-ray)

March 7, 2013 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Ah, what’s life without a little conflict, right?  Nearly thirty years ago a little movie called Red Dawn hit theaters and was perhaps one of the ultimate 80’s “Cold War” movies, right up there with Rocky IV and War Games.  The message was simple, “Russians invade the U.S.A. – they will take over the world and we’re powerless to do anything about it.”  Or something along those lines, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the original.  In a bit of movie history, the original Red Dawn was actually the first feature-length film to don the new “PG-13” rating, something that’s now so common that we don’t think twice about it.  Three decades have now passed and I won’t go on yet another tirade about how Hollywood only does re-makes and such…the older I get, the less I care so long as the film is entertaining.  Patrick Swayze has been replaced with Chris Hemsworth and the Russians with the North Koreans, but is the message still the same?  Let’s find out.

Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is home from the Marines.  His younger brother Matt (Josh Peck) has led the football team to a near victory, but ultimately it’s chalked up as a loss.  Things appear to be going well until the sky is flooded with parachutes and the city of Spokane, Washington finds itself under attack by the North Koreans.  They literally take no prisoners, but a scant group of teens happen to make their way out and form a loose rebellion.  By calling themselves the “Wolverines” (named after the high school team mascot), they manage to cause a stir in the occupation of the town.  Their main task is to overthrow the occupants and get life back to normal, but can a group of unyielding teens pull it off?  That’s the thing about this movie, it’s simplistic in the plot and with something to go off of (in the previous film), all the really had to do was update it.

I’d heard that this re-make wasn’t actually that bad and, truthfully, it wasn’t.  Gone are the days of the 80’s “Cold War” but there are and always will be a new enemy on the horizon be it a threat to us or some other country.  Chris Hemsworth is establishing himself as a bona fide action star and with his title role as Thor under his belt, odds are we’ll be seeing more of him (much to the joy of female audiences, no doubt).  With the exception of Josh Hutcherson (of Hunger Games fame), the rest of the cast is relatively unknown though Jeffrey Dean Morgan obviously takes the Powers Boothe role from the original.  To be blunt, this is a dead honest movie and one that you know what you’re in for about ten minutes in.  For camp value, I’d say that I prefer the original, but this “updated” version has its moments.

Video: How does it look?

Coming to Blu-ray in a nice-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer Red Dawn looks about as good as I expected it to look.  The opening sequence is a bit dark, but the image isn’t challenged at all.  Rich hues and textures show up very well and contrast and black levels play off one another very nicely.  The majority of the film takes place in the forest with detail being very impressive – branches and individual leaves are clearly visible.  Flesh tones seem a bit on the overcooked side,  but the skin texture and individual pores being so prevalent, it makes for a very intimate image and one that’s right on the money.

Audio: How does it sound?

More impressive is the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack.  With a movie of this nature, you  know that a few things will happen: things will blow up, bullets will be fired and…more things will blow up.  Thankfully this HD mix doesn’t disappoint with the surrounds taking over in a number of scenes, the LFE are very active and the front stage is nearly busy for the duration of the film.  Dialogue is rich and full and the immersive mix is something that’s nearly expected of a film of this genre.  I’ve heard a few mixes that are better, but not many.  This track rocks!

Supplements: What are the extras?

Well, it’s easy to review this section as not a single supplement is present.  There is a DVD of the film as well as a digital copy, but other than that – nada. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a featureless Blu-ray disc.

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