North Korea Invades America in the Trailer for Red Dawn

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Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 10 2012 6:29 PM

Trailer Critic: Red Dawn

Chris Hemsworth in Red Dawn
Chris Hemsworth stars in the remake of Red Dawn.

Still from the trailer for Red Dawn.

One of the top comments on the new trailer for Red Dawn exults “a big budget action film without aliens FINALLY!!!!!!” But wouldn’t an alien invasion have been more realistic? In the 2012 Red Dawn, a remake of the paranoid 1984 action fantasy about a Cuban and Soviet invasion, America is overcome by what might be its most unlikely conquerors yet: North Koreans.

The invaders weren’t originally supposed to be from North Korea. Instead, Red Dawn was filmed with an invasion from China in mind. But when MGM realized that China was also one of its fastest growing new markets, they altered the film, mostly by digitally replacing Chinese flags and military symbols with North Korean ones. I guess we’re supposed to think that those two countries are otherwise pretty much the same?

All these offenses could be mollified if the film had any sense of its own silliness, but it appears that that’s not the case. Instead, Red Dawn looks remarkably stone-faced. (At least when it's not teary-eyed: The trailer features nearly as much crying as the original film.) Meanwhile star Chris Hemsworth continues to boom in his Asgardian baritone, but I still haven’t seen that work as anything but a campy joke. Director Dan Bradley comes via his work as an experienced stunt coordinator, and appears to be playing to his strengths.

There’s a telling moment toward the end of the trailer when Hemsworth says to his guerilla crew, “We inherited our freedom. Now it’s up to us to fight for it.” In other words, this is another generation that, after years of contemptible peace and prosperity, has finally found its great war. I just can’t believe the movie worked so desperately to find it.

Grade: F

Previously from the Trailer Critic
Life of Pi
The Master
Man of Steel
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
The Great Gatsby
James Bond in Skyfall

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.