The rumor’s been bouncing around for the better part of a decade; “someone’s doing a remake of Red Dawn“.
North Korean paratroopers descend on an American small town. U.S. military resistance collapses. Korean armored vehicles roll down the streets unopposed except for a band of heavily armed bros in hoodies.
No, these are not images from some teenage gamer’s fever dream. They’re scenes from the movie Red Dawn, a remake of the 1984 cult classic about a joint Cuban-Soviet invasion of the U.S. and the attractive young American insurgents — the Wolverines — who help defeat it. The revamped Red Dawn, starring Chris Hemsworth, a.k.a. Thor, blasts into theaters in November.
But don’t expect it to linger very long.
Well, no kidding. The world’s changed a bit since 1984; on the one hand, we simultaneously have little fear of nuclear armageddon, even as the idea of being attacked on our soil is no longer novel.
But the article, in Wired, does hit on one key point. We’ll come back to it.
Where the 1984 original successfully played upon widespread public fears over a supposedly rising and belligerent Soviet Union, the remake expects viewers to take North Korea seriously as an existential threat.
It’s a stretch. Although let’s be clear; the Soviet Union wasn’t “supposedly” belligerent in 1984. They made a pretty good show of it. In much the same way as Putin does today, only with thousands of missiles and tanks and hundreds of submarines and lots and lots of soldiers, and no, I’m not going to get into an argument about whether the Soviets were or were not a threat, since history and Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, JP Deuce and Lech Wałęsa already settled that for us.
We’re guessing the flick is going to get a lot of unintended laughs.
You see, the actual North Korea is a country of 24 million people with a GDP roughly equal to North Dakota’s. It’s an impoverished, even starving, prison state that lacks modern weaponry and any ability to deploy forces globally.
Which, if you think about it, is kinda like the USSR in a lot of ways. And yes, I know, the remake sounds dumb…
…which shouldn’t obscure the fact that the original was dumb too.
How dumb? I’m Norwegian and Scottish; I squeeze 15 cents out of a dime. And I never go to movies I think I’m going to walk out of. And I darn near walked out of Red Dawn the first time I saw it. It was the scene where the “student council president” tries to call for a vote over going back to town after the invasion; my “dumb” meter pegged so hard it bent the needle. I had my butt up out of the seat…
…but stayed. Partly because in those days, I didn’t waste $3 lightly.
Partly because while the story didn’t get a whole lot better, it got a whole lot more fun. Dumb, escapist, adrenaline-pumping fun.
And in an age where “video games” were geometric shapes that floated on black screens and beeped and borked and shot little pips of electrons at other geometric shapes, Red Dawn was an “immersive experience” that went ever-so-slightly beyond “escapist” to “fantastic”, with the emphasis on “fantas”. Once I turned my English major’s critique-o-matic off, and just started enjoying it for what it was – a movie about a bunch of guys in the woods with machine guns blasting bad guys and saving the free world and rescuing Jennifer Gray and knocking off a little Lea Thompson in the bargain – I settled down in my seat and took my jacket back off.
Now that kids can immerse themselves in games that serve as stories much more involving and immersive, I can’t imagine hordes of twentysomethings doing the same thing these days. Not without Robert Pattinson in it.
Indeed, a movie about the making of the remake sounds like it’d make a better movie:
The new Red Dawn has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years owing to financing troubles and at least one major revamp by screenwriters Carl Elsworth and Jeremy Passmore. As originally written, the relaunched Red Dawn was only slightly less silly. The bad guys were Chinese. And while China has no discernible intention of invading anyone [tell that to the Taiwanese - Ed.], much less the U.S., Beijing at least commands a $7.3-trillion economy and an increasingly modern, two-million-man army. But it’s bad business to portray one of the world’s fastest growing film markets as brutal world conquerors, so the producers swapped in North Korea, a country no one counts on for ticket sales.
And given how Hollywood supports Obama, it’d be bad politics to piss off the one country that can still pay for all his plans.