Red Dawn (2012)

Red Dawn

Release Date: November 21, 2012

Director: Dan Bradley

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck

Runtime: 114 min

Tagline: Heroes are made in America

Oh look, Chris Hemsworth is in a second movie this year where he goes to a cabin in the woods.

Jed Eckhart, an experienced soldier on leave, leads a group of teenagers to the forest as a way of escaping the North Korean soldiers that have just attacked their town. Soon enough, they form a terrorist group called the Wolverines, and they plan to take the town back from the North Koreans.

Directed by newcomer to the directing game, Dan Bradley, this is a remake of the 1984 cult classic of the same name (which I haven’t seen). Apparently, the only thing that is really changed is the invaders are North Korean, not the Soviet Union like the original. You may think that sounds like a promising story, but you’d be wrong.

The film opens with some compiled archive footage explaining a situation in North Korea where Kim Jong Il has recently died, and the people are furious for some reason. It just feels disorganized and it was a very dumb history lesson. It sort of sets the tone for the film and adds some context on what’s to come, but it isn’t easy to appreciate.

The plot has a fine pace, but there really isn’t any story at all. It’s just a series of events where The Wolverines attack North Korean forces, steal flat bread, meat and soda from a Subway, and just generally wreak havoc as a way to take back their town. The action comes around a lot, and that’s pretty nice, but that doesn’t leave any time for much character or plot development. The action is just a whole lot of explosions and lots of bullets being shot. For any lover of war violence, they’ll eat it up, but it certainly doesn’t measure up to something like the great action of Saving Private Ryan.

Sometimes my suspension of disbelief is really stretched. At some points, the North Koreans had perfect opportunities to shoot at the so-called Wolverines, but they didn’t take that golden opportunity. Or, they widely missed. Wouldn’t they have had military training? Who’s training them, Forrest Gump? “Just keep staring, and staring, and staring. That’s all I have to say about that.”
The dialogue is very, very poor. One character asks “Legit?” and he doesn’t even bother to say the full word. Another character says, “I’m not giving you dick!” The context, though, is when character asks the person to give him the gun, but he refuses and utters that stupid line. Who wrote this screenplay, a white thirteen year old wannabee gangster?

Red Dawn is filled with A-list and B-list actors who were fairly unknown when it was filmed in 2009. Since then, it has been stuck on the shelf, and it should have stayed that way. The action is non-stop, but that action is sometimes boring. One other poor thing about the film is the characters. They are one-dimensional, and I didn’t particularly care for any of them. Their motivations are to become heroes of the town and avenge the lives of their loved ones, and take their homes back. Some of them are particularly selfish, too. They are not easy to admire or respect, so when any of them gets killed off, the viewer could easily rub it off their shoulders and forget about it. Whenever the film tries to put in any character development, it’s pretty mediocre, and frankly, boring.

The list of Red Dawn‘s redeeming qualities is a very short one. The actors are great, but their source material is bad. There are some good action sequences, and there are some mediocre jokes to be offered (mostly from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his buddies). That’s about it. The acting is bad and the cinematography is very shaky, and the storyline isn’t a thick one. Red Dawn is a poor action film, and there are much better action films in theatres right now. If you feel you must see it (probably because of Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson or Josh Peck), and that is something I discourage, go in expecting a generally poor feature with amateurish direction.


Celebrity Birthdays: October 29 – November 11

Ben Foster, October 29

Happy 30th birthday to Ben Foster. He often plays eerie roles, like in Hostage or in 30 Days of Night. Foster is a great screen presence and he’s best known for his roles in 3:10 to YumaPandorumThe Messenger, and The Mechanic.

Ben Foster as the haunting Mars Krupcheck in 2005’s Hostage.

My favourite films with Foster in a leading or supporting role: Hostage (2005) — Alpha Dog (2006) — 30 Days of Night (2007).


John Candy, October 31

The late John Candy would have been 62 on Halloween. He is a household name because of his charisma, and cheery and exciting screen presence. He is best known for his part on the TV’s SCTV, Spaceballs and Uncle Buck.

Favourite John Candy films: Uncle Buck (1989) — Home Alone (1990). Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to see more!

Sam Rockwell, November 5

Happy 44th birthday to the great Sam Rockwell! Rockwell is best known for his roles in MoonThe Green MileIron Man 2 and Frost/Nixon. You can see him in theatres in the film Seven Psychopaths.

Sam Rockwell as Wild Bill in The Green Mile.

My favourite Sam Rockwell films: The Green Mile (1999) — Seven Psychopaths (2012) — Galaxy Quest (1999) — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005).


Emma Stone, November 6

Happy 24th birthday to Emma Stone! Sarcastic, and she’s both awkward and sexy at the same time. What’s not to love about her? She is best known for her roles in The HelpEasy AThe Amazing Spider-Man, and Zombieland.

My favourite Emma Stone flicks: The Help (2011) — Superbad (2007) — Zombieland (2009) — Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) —  Easy A (2010) — The House Bunny (2008).

Leonardo DiCaprio, November 11

Happy 38th birthday to Leonardo DiCaprio. He has a large filmography that started with a humble beginning, and became greater things. He is best known for his roles in InceptionTitanicThe Departed and Shutter Island.

My favourite Leonardo DiCaprio flicks: Blood Diamond (2006) — Catch Me If You Can (2002) — Titanic (1997) — Inception (2010) — Shutter Island (2010) — What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) — Romeo + Juliet (1996).

Other Birthdays: Oct. 29, Winona Ryder (41); Richard Dreyfuss (65). Oct. 30, Kevin Pollack (55). Oct. 31, Peter Jackson (51). Nov. 5, Tilda Swinton (52); Robert Patrick (54). Nov. 6, Ethan Hawke (42); Sally Field (66); Rebecca Romijn (40). Nov. 10, Josh Peck (26). Nov. 11, Stanley Tucci (52); Demi Moore (50).

Film reviews of films featuring Tilda Swinton: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005); We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011).

Film reviews of films featuring Robert PatrickTrouble with the Curve (2012).

Film reviews of films featuring Ethan HawkeSinister (2012).

Film reviews of films featuring Josh PeckMean Creek (2003); ATM (2012).

Film reviews of films featuring Stanley TucciThe Hunger Games (2012)

Who’s your favourite actor on this list?





Mean Creek – One of my favourite independent film experiences.

Mean Creek

Release Date: January 15, 2004 (Sundance Film Festival)

Director: Jacob Aaron Estes

Stars: Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz

Runtime: 90 min

Tagline: Beneath the surface, everyone has a secret.

After a young boy, Sam (Rory Culkin), is bullied by a troubled fat boy, George (Josh Peck); Sam’s brother, Rocky, and Marty concoct a plan. They plan to lure George out into the woods for Sam’s “birthday” for a boating trip, and play a cruel prank on the boy as a way to receive vengeance for Sam. While on the boating trip, Sam, Rocky, Clyde and Sam’s girlfriend, Millie, see that George really isn’t all that bad of a guy, and they want the plan to be called off. Though, Marty is the type of guy who likes to commit to doing something, henceforth he doesn’t want the plan to be called off. Will the scheme work out as planned; or will things go completely awry?

A lot of it is an often poignant ride about adolescence, and is a fairly impressive film that is a bit slow at the beginning and drags at some areas near the end, but it’s quite the memorable story.

The emotional content of it all is quite great, and often powerful – and the young actors do a very good job with each of their roles. It’s a pretty impressive little crime drama that was humbly made for the sum of $500,000, and they use that money well.

The beginning is just really trying to get into the story and introduce each of the characters, so in ways it is slow but the opening sequence opens up to the film well. I only like a few characters here though, I couldn’t relate to a few of them. The ending drags on in some areas, but the very end saved it for me. The story of the film made it the most memorable for me. The main appeal of this was Josh Peck, he’s such a good actor.

I found myself relating to both Sam and George by the end of it all, though. I feel I should explain how I related to George as he’s the bully. I related to Sam because he was bullied and is an often timid character.



I found myself relating with George by the end of it all because he was a troubled character. I’m not a bully or anything, I just relate to the guy because all he wants to do is just try to fit in, which is how I relate to him the most. Since he’s just seen as this bad guy, he doesn’t get out as much as he’d like to and he’s just hardly invited anywhere. He tries to fit in and he tries to be nice, but he can be fake at times because he doesn’t really be himself throughout. And then at the end monologue when he was talking about how he was going to make a documentary of his life so people would actually understand him, moved me.


The film is really well-cast, but some may be turned off by the excessive swearing. That may be the only thing that tainted my view of the general thing, but I still did really enjoy it. A lot of the swearing was necessary, as a means to make some sequences more emotional and intense.

This film made me think this: if the well-cast characters and the swearing of Stand by Me were tossed in a blender with the disturbing content and intensity of Deliverance, you’d be left with this low-key crime drama, Mean Creek, which makes for a fairly satisfying flick.

Mean Creek is a well-casted and memorable film that was poorly paced in some areas but nonetheless emotionally strong and thought-provoking and fairly impressive despite some poor camerawork that I can overlook, it’s an experience that I would like to see again because it offers a nice experience. If you like B-movie crime dramas, check it out.


ATM (2012)

ATM featuredImage


Release Date: April 6, 2012

Director: David Brooks

Stars: Brian Geraghty, Alice Eve, Josh Peck

Runtime: 90 min

Tagline: No warning. No control. No escape.

 I didn’t really care for it.

David likes Emily, a fellow co-worker at a finance company. At a Christmas party, David offers her a ride home because she can’t hail a cab. Corey third wheels on this ride because he needs a ride home. He’s also hungry and he convinces his co-workers into a late-night stop at an ATM booth, where they soon find themselves trapped in it by a strange man staring at them from the outside. With no phones or weapons, it becomes a fight for survival when they’re forced to play the man’s deadly game of cat and mouse.

I like these types of films to be more psychological, but this was not. While it offered a few mediocre thrills, I found myself to be bored for a majority of the film. It really is a poor excuse for a horror film. It’s a simple enough plot, but I don’t feel it was executed very well. I really expected more from Chris Sparling, the writer of ‘Buried.’

The only good thing about this is that it isn’t overly long, and some of it was entertaining. The characters weren’t very likeable though, they’re rather bland,  and some of the film was really quite predictable.  It gets pretty silly at times also. It really doesn’t offer anything special to the thriller genre, and definitely not the horror genre.

I wanted to watch the film for the main stars (Eve, Peck and Geraghty) but they couldn’t display their talents well, as it was hard with such poor dialogue.

It stars Josh Peck, Brian Geraghty, and Alice Eve.

I couldn’t really recommend it, it’s good for a few thrills, but they’re really far from each other in length. There’s better thrillers and definitely better horror flicks out there, so watch this one if you’re really curious to see how bad it is. Just overall a disappointing endeavour from the usually good actors and the writer of ‘Buried.’


Review written on: August 14, 2012 by Daniel Prinn