Red Dawn: The Worthless Remake


Anyone that reads this blog knows I hate remakes. I don’t pretend. But I will give credit where credit is due – True Grit, 3:10 To Yuma, The Thing, Last House On The Left. These all brought something to the table and were worthwhile remakes. When I first heard they were remaking Red Dawn I actually thought it may actually be a good idea. With the state of the world as it is today it seemed like it was a story worth telling again. I was even excited about the fact that they were using the Chinese as the bad guys. It made sense.

That was 2009.

By the time the movie hit theaters some three years later I had lost all hope that the movie could actually be good. Why? Not because it sat on the shelf. No. That’s easily explained due to MGM’s bankruptcy issues. The reason I lost faith was that the studio decided that China was too big a movie market to use them as a villain and potentially lose millions in revenue. So, instead, they changed the villain to North Korea because it’s okay to hate them unless you’re Dennis Rodman. The movie that’s creative decisions are made by following the dollar is not a movie worth seeing.

With all that said I want to tell you that I went into the movie with an open mind. But that didn’t last long. The moment the first car chase happened I was over being nice to the movie. The movie had a promising cast, an interesting director, even some really cool stunt work. But none of that could save the movie from the studio.

You know, I would normally go on and on about how much I hated the movie but just read my Twitter feed for the 23 tweets I sent out while watching it. They’re probably more entertaining than the movie itself.

Sorry for the lazy blogging. The movie just kinda put me in a mood. I need to watch something better to get this bad taste out of my mouth. Where’s my copy of Showgirls?

1 out of 5 stars.


Let Things Die, Hollywood!

There is a long history in Hollywood of beating that dead horse. Whether it is on television or in movies it’s always the same – milk it till it’s dry. Some things we loved very much have been tarnished by the studio’s refusal to let go.

When I was in high school I was immediately drawn to a new series on Fox. It looked to be dark and moody. It had people investigating monster, aliens and the paranormal. It was right up my alley. Nine years later I was angry with the series and Fox for keeping it going. That show was The X-Files, obviously. The show couldn’t survive without Mulder and Fox shouldn’t have tried.

In television and movies it is usually the genre work that gets beat into the ground. There are movie series like Halloween, Friday The 13th, Children Of The Corn, Hellraiser, The Prophecy, Highlander, and A Nightmare On Elm Street. But sometimes comedies and action movies overstay their welcome. Look at Police Academy. It had seven movies, a cartoon and a failed live action series. Die Hard is about to make its way back to the big screen with a fifth entry. Even throughout the 70’s and 80’s we had a number of movies in the Death Wish series and Dirty Harry.

There are too many times that studios and networks refuse to close the book on something when they should. Thankfully some people understand this. Christopher Nolan closed his Batman series with three. Kevin Smith decided to retire Jay & Silent Bob a little late but understood those characters were wearing out their welcome and moved on.

Going back to the well on a repeated basis is an easy thing to do, even for a filmmaker. Don Coscorelli has had a very hard time finding money to make anything other than Phantasm movies in his career. Rather than hand the franchise over to someone else he made four of them to keep from letting someone else ruin his creation. But he wants to make other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I always wish for more just like most people when they like something. The key is to know when to exit. Even know, as my writing partner and I are writing our slasher movie, we have more story than can fit into one film. Before we finish we will have enough material left to write a sequel. But if that is all there is as far as story goes for us we walk away. We certainly don’t want to have the movies become like Saw 3D or Freddy’s Dead. There needs to be an exit point. Hopefully Hollywood understands that at some point.

Goodbye Ernest Borgnine

A man who spent the majority of his life in front of the camera entertaining us was lost today. For nearly 70 years he worked steadily in film and television never caring which medium chose to hire him. He just loved to work.

I remember when I was a child reruns of McHale’s Navy used to run on a local station where I grew up. It was on right after F Troop and before I Dream Of Jeannie. I watched a young Ernest Borgnine on that show for years. The man always seemed to just enjoy the craft of entertaining. In the early 80’s my father rented Escape From New York, one of my all time favorite films, and Borgnine’s portrayal of the cabbie in that film was one of my favorite things.

I can’t say enough good about the man. He was a professional the likes of which Hollywood may never see again. He would show up, play his part, and the rest of the cast and crew loved the time they got to spend with him. When so many actors now have so many demands and behave like spoiled children Ernest Borgnine would show up and remind people how it should be done.

It never seemed like the man treated acting like a job. Instead, he always seemed like it was a gift that was handed to him where he got to play and would take home a paycheck for it. The twinkle never left his eye. Even when he made the movie Red recently that twinkle was there. He struck me as the type who would stop doing his job if it was no longer fun for him. It was as though he needed the money.

In the 1950’s and 60’s when tabloid journalism was just beginning people like Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum, and many others seemed to appear in their pages almost constantly. From that time till his death Borgnine was never there. The spotlight was not what he craved. It was the work. Even with bus multiple marriages he never seemed to he the focus of gossip. The closest I see to that now is someone like Harrison Ford, who for many years kept out of the spotlight. And even since his relationship with Calista Flockhart he’s managed to keep a low profile. I fear those days in Hollywood are over.

Goodbye to a professional actor. Goodbye to old Hollywood. Goodbye Ernest Borgnine. You will be missed. I’m gonna go watch Escape From New York now.

Are We Ever Gonna See The Remake Of Red Dawn?

A couple years ago there was talk of two hot properties that were being developed over at MGM Studios – The Cabin In The Woods and a remake of Red Dawn. Then the studio had their bankruptcy issues and had put these movies on the shelf indefinitely. Cabin was saved by Lionsgate but Dawn was not so lucky. MGM wouldn’t sell this property. Nothing is set in stone yet but the rumor is that we could likely see the movie in theaters by the holiday season.

I have a bit of a soft spot for the original. Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and Powers Booth in a John Milius film about Russians invading our borders. It was fun and fed on the fears of our country at the time.

The remake, however, was a risky proposition. Russia had crumbled so who could take their place in this film? China, of course. Well, it was China all through shooting. But the studio felt that they were too big a movie market to piss off so they went in and digitally altered the flags and any reference to China and changed it to North Korea. This is MGM’s claim as to why the movie has yet to he released.

The movie itself may or may not pull it off. It remains to he seen. What I don’t like is that Hollywood is afraid to make a country mad because of their choice of villain. What happens if Germany becomes a force to be reckoned with again but our movies are profitable over there? Will that mean we can’t make movies about Neo-Nazis trying to destroy us? It’s bad enough we are afraid to make Middle Eastern people mad by using them as terrorists in movies after 9/11. And I’m mostly Middle Eastern. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna get offended. I understand it was Muslim extremists and not the guy running my local coffee shop. So he’s Muslim, born in the Middle East and doesn’t eat pork. That doesn’t make him a terrorist. And when a country is our enemy it is the leaders, not the people that are causing the problems.

Even though I don’t like remakes I am curious about Red Dawn. I want to see if they at least keep the tone of the film close to the original. I also want to know if the North Korea as invaders choice works for the movie or if it just seems laughable. Maybe we will find out soon. Or maybe MGM will decide that now that Kim Jong-Il is dead the movie market will open up there and they’ll change it to Australian invaders instead.

We Need A Good Western

Sometimes Hollywood perplexes me…okay, most of the time. They seem to think nobody wants a western anymore, even though when one gets made it usually does well at the box office. 3:10 To Yuma was a good example of that. It was a quality film with talented actors, a solid director and smart writing. It did well but didn’t do Batman money, and I wonder if that’s what the studio was hoping for with Christian Bale as the star.

When I was young we were just at the precipice of a change in movies. The western was still being made but it was slowing down. And nearly all westerns at that time were being made by Clint Eastwood. I remember seeing Pale Rider in theaters and loving the experience. Silverado was great fun. Young Guns was a big movie. But by the 90’s westerns were practically unheard of. Sure we got Young Guns II but it was too little too late. Unforgiven was amazing, critically acclaimed, a financial success and win Oscars. Sometimes I wonder if the reason it got made was to button the genre and say goodbye. Maybe the Academy felt the same way and wanted to not only honor the movie but the nearly dead genre all at once.

Things had changed from that point forward. Sure, we got Tombstone and Wyatt Earp but most movies that would have been made went to the small screen instead. We had Lonesome Dove and, most recently, Hatfields And McCoys. Is this because movies like Open Range did nothing in theaters? I don’t think so.

If I had to guess I would say that the current trend of spending giant piles of money on spectacle over substance has caused many movies that would have been made in the 70’s and 80’s to find homes on cable instead of theaters. It’s the same with many dramas. They go to HBO now. Could Kramer Vs. Kramer be made for theaters today? Probably not.

There is something so amazing about the scope and scale of a great western being seen on a big screen with an audience, being transported back in time to the old west. Imagine if The Searchers, Shane, or A Fistfull Of Dollars would have been made for cable and the beauty we would have missed out on when it comes to the silver screen.

Let’s hope Quentin Tarantino can start a new trend of big screen westerns with Django Unchained.