Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Out of curiosity, I took a look at how film critics from other newspapers and publications reviewed the new “Red Dawn,” a remake of the 1984 cult classic about teenagers taking up guns and defending America from communist invaders.
You’d think from the critics’ condescending sneers that the remake is utter garbage.
“Preposterous,” said one critic of the remake’s premise that North Korea could invade the U.S. today. “Outdated,” said another, suggesting the plot line be relegated to the ancient Cold War and the once-upon-a-time Red Scare.
The only thing that’s “preposterous,” however, is the speed at which these obviously liberal critics leaped to dismiss the movie. I honestly, without hyperbole, wonder if some of them even watched it.
For starters, the movie explains that North Korea doesn’t invade without “help,” and that they used a cyber attack on the American financial system and an electromagnetic pulse weapon, or EMP, against the U.S. infrastructure. Furthermore, North Korea only invades the Pacific Northwest, while other enemies attack elsewhere. It’s not really that implausible.
Besides, the original film cast Cuba as the invading force – not the Soviet Union, as is commonly reported – so don’t talk to me about “preposterous.”
And as for “outdated,” the Red Scare is far from over, as many Americans outside the leftist worldview recognize. It’s just that the threat of communism in the U.S. now comes from our own public universities, instead of Moscow.
So politically biased bashing aside, let’s look at the film a little more honestly, shall we?
“Red Dawn” is indeed a remake, provoking many of the same themes and even revisiting some of the same scenes as the original (“The chair is against the wall; the chair is against the wall,” drinking deer blood, “Wolverines!” and so on). It tells the story of a ragtag group of teens, led by a pair of brothers, who escape a sudden enemy occupation and flee to the hills, where they wage a guerilla fight to retake America from the communist invasion.
And like the original, the acting is sketchy, the writing is barely adequate and the direction has its flaws. Neither “Red Dawn” deserves mention at the Academy Awards.
But like the original, the new “Red Dawn” taps into something primal and patriotic, two instincts it seems leftists attempt to drown out of themselves with copious volumes of Starbucks, while the rest of us pickup-driving, gun-toting, Bible-believing, red-blooded Americans can actually relate.
Consider these pivotal lines from the film: “I don’t want to sell [warfare] to you; it’s too ugly for that,” a former Marine tells the kids. “But when you’re fighting in your backyard and fighting for your family, it hurts a little less, makes a little more sense. For them, this is just some place; for us, this is home.”
Or this line: “We inherited our freedom; now it’s up to all of us to fight for it.”
Perhaps that sounds like Cold War drivel at patriotic platitudes to a leftist, but it’s downright inspirational to the rest of us – those of us who don’t think of George Washington simply as an imperialistic slave-owner or Ronald Reagan as a rich-loving, trickle-down oligarch.
Furthermore, with some clever twists on the original, amped up action and a touch of humor, the new “Red Dawn” emerges as an entertaining movie well suited for a fun night out – that is, if your undies aren’t in a bunch over teenagers shooting guns (gasp!) or Americans taking up arms to fight off your “komrades.”
And as for “outdated”? There’s a scene in the film when the North Korean minister of re-education rants about how we’ve been “victims” of a corrupt, capitalist America where “government is in bed with the tyrants of Wall Street.” His diatribe is virtually indistinguishable from what can be heard on university campuses, MSNBC or in Zucotti Park every day in 2012. It’s hard to get more relevant in America right now than the battle against communism.
Yes, it’s violent, more of an action flick than a political thriller. And no, it isn’t a thespian masterpiece. But I still had a good time cheering for the kids, who like modern-day Minutemen, refuse to let freedom die quietly in the night while their parents capitulate to the communist overlords.
Allow me to join the chorus of cheers: “Wolverines!!!!!”
“Red Dawn” contains roughly 70 profanities and obscenities, mostly during the heat of action or battle, making them less distracting to the plot itself.
The film has very little sexual content, consisting of some flirting, a couple of kisses and a few sexual references. Outside of some cleavage, there’s no nudity.
The movie contains a significant amount of violence, as it’s about warfare. Likely hundreds of people die in the film through shootings, bombings and various explosions. Outside of a few wounds to the main characters and some blood, there is little gore or significant realism to the violence. There is a scene in which a character is seen vomiting and another in which a character drinks raw deer blood.
The film has a few casual religious references, such as, “Pray like h—,” and, “Marines don’t die; they just go to hell and regroup.” There are no significant religious themes or occult elements.