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This week, we’re featuring a series that only includes an original from the 1980s and a remake that was made almost 30 years later: Red Dawn.
Red Dawn was a very successful and popular movie in the 80s and it makes sense that Hollywood would try to capitalize on its success by trying to remake it using a similar formula to what was done 28 years earlier. From a financial standpoint the first one was a huge success mostly because of its cast which was largely comprised of members of the infamous Brat Pack. It didn’t hurt that the movie was very controversial and violent for the year it came out. The movie was listed in the Guinness Book for World Records as the most violent movie released up to that date. It also was one of the very first movies to get the rating of PG-13 which was established at that time to fill the gap between PG rated movies and R -rated ones.
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The remake’s financials give the exact opposite effect. This movie actually LOST money which is a bit surprising because it tried to bait teens and women into coming by catching Chris Hemsworth as one of the main characters. Perhaps it would have helped to have a more coherent plot. The original was released during the waning days of The Cold War, when it still seemed plausible (albeit unlikely) that Russia and its allies could try to invade the continental US.
The sequel couldn’t use similar antagonists since The Cold War was long over, so they filmed the movie with China as the enemy. Then, due to even more controversy, they changed it during post production to North Korea which feels less plausible in this day and age as an invading army on US soil. Neither of these movies were nominated for any Oscars.
Director: John Milius Stars: Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey
The Slant: Fun movie featuring familiar Brat packers fighting invading enemies works on most levels and leaves you with a feeling that they fought a worthwhile fight.
Best Moment: When Jennifer Grey lures a few of the enemy to chase her to a spot where the rest of the group have laid a trap.
Director: Dan Bradley Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas, Josh Hutcherson
The Slant: Somewhat mediocre remake that was totally unnecessary to make and has probably made the Producers regret having tried because it bombed so miserably.
Best Moment: Most of the scenes in this movie that were good were copied from the original. Apparently, ambushing the enemy can work for any generation.
This is a perfect example of why Hollywood should steer clear away from remakes. The original was financially successful and made double its budget just in its opening weekend. The remake actually lost nearly $20M. The remake had a budget 15 times as large as the original but still only managed to make $6M more than its predecessor. Just because a formula works once doesn’t mean it’ll work again 28 years later.
If only Hollywood would understand that….
Rob is a contributing writer for TMI. Visit his movie review website MovieRob.