Red Dawn reviewed

I was sick with a cold (courtesy of my 4-year-old nephew) for most of the Thanksgiving holiday (yay me) so I pretty much laid low for three days and drank Dr. Pepper (just what the Doctor ordered), downed DayQuil, and read copiously (a book a day, but who’s counting). But I did manage to sneak out and catch a couple of movies.

One of them was Red Dawn.

It’s probably not a huge surprise to you that I went and saw this movie considering my boyf- I mean, Chris Hemsworth is in it. But I had other motives as well. I’m a sucker for patriotic action films and this one seemed like it would deliver.

*Obligatory spoiler warning* I try not to, but ya never know…oh, and because I’m still a little under the weather this review is probably a little snippier than usual. I blame it on my throbbing headache.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6T2Q4bBcUU]

The movie starts out with news clips about a Russian/North Korean communist uprising that no one was paying attention to, apparently. Then it switches gears and gets all Friday Night Lights-ish. Especially once Adrianne Palicki pops her pretty little head in. The big High School football game is happening. The after-partying and underage bar hopping is happening. Little bro is pissed at big bro for joining the Marines and ditching him for 6 years after their Mom dies but he has a smokin’ hot girlfriend so whatevs. Girl who had crush on big bro spots him and makes contact by reminding him how adorably awkward she was, but hey, check it out, she’s super hot now.  It’s all very over dramatic and I’m not using their names because I didn’t even know them for most of the movie. I had to look half of them up on imdb just to write this review. (Something else that look at imdb informed me of? Apparently this is a remake of a 1984 movie I didn’t know existed. Weird, since I was pretty sure I knew about every movie made in the 80’s, especially the ones starring Patrick Swayze. And ESPECIALLY ones that also star Jennifer Grey making googly eyes at Patrick Swayze a full 3 years before Dirty Dancing. Seriously. How did I not know this??? That fact stressed me out for exactly 3.5 seconds.)

Then the power goes out and gets everyone even more pissy. The next morning they wake up to loud booms and when they go outside it’s literally raining men. This is where the movie gets its name. Communism = Red, Morning = Dawn. Chaos ensues but a ragtag bunch of teenagers manage to escape with big bro and use guerilla-style fighting tactics courtesy of big bro’s Marine Corps training (oorah!) to fight the big bad Communists.

Chris Hemsworth plays the big bro aka Jed Eckert. He’s gorgeous, of course. Way more gorgeous than he has any right to be. He’s recently returned from a deployment to Iraq and he’s a jack of all trades when it comes to weaponry and explosives. I’ll have to ask my real life USMC brother if that’s true to life or total bullshit. During the movie I found myself believing he could know most of it but probably not all of it. He’s the oldest and therefore the de facto leader of the bunch. The only kid that puts up a fight about that doesn’t last very long. We really don’t learn much about Jed other than the fact that his little brother is resentful yet respectful of him and Adrianne Palicki’s character wants to jump his bones. Despite that, you can’t help but care about the guy because he’s doing everything he can to fight the Commies while keeping his kids alive.

Josh Peck is little bro aka Matt Eckert. I had absolutely no idea who Josh Peck was. After looking at his imdb page, I still don’t. Apparently he was on a Nickelodeon show or something. To be honest, I didn’t care for him or his character all that much. He’s cocky and disobedient and sneers a lot. And when I say sneer, I mean he has a weird little stoned-looking half smile that he uses when he really wants to piss you off. And it works. A total pesky little brother.

Josh Hutcherson is the whimpy kid that ends up being a badass. Sounds kind of like Peeta in The Hunger Games but it’s not. It’s totally different. He was probably my favorite character in the film because he seriously rose to the occasion. His BFF was none other than Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s kid, Connor Cruise. I assumed that this was his acting debut but when I looked him up I saw that he played Will Smith’s younger self in Seven Pounds. I never saw that movie though so I ceased to care. He did ok. His character had a certain dignity that I found appealing.

Adrianne Palicki played Toni Walsh, the girl with a hard on for my boyf- I mean, Chris Hemsworth. I like Adrianne. I think she’s cute and she was the best part of Legion (after Kevin Durand, of course). She becomes a bad ass chick fighter who’s really good at hiding her fear. Maybe because she’s trying so hard to impress big bro. She steals his beer and that causes problems so I’m a little pissed at her right now.

The other hot chick is Isabel Lucas aka Erica Martin. The object of little bro’s obsession, she seems way too pretty for this movie from the get go. They try to ugly her up a bit but it doesn’t work. The girl is crazy gorgeous. She fit in perfectly in Immortals. In this movie, she’s distracting. Plus, she doesn’t have much to do besides be the damsel in distress. She holds her own when given the opportunity though and I respect that in a fictional character.

The other kids are kind of nameless and faceless, to be honest. You’re supposed to care about them just enough that you’re bummed when bad stuff happens to them but you can’t remember their names so you don’t care as much as you probably should. Really, the only ones who really pass as High Schoolers are Hutcherson and Cruise. The rest of them are obviously in their 20’s.

At one point some “recently un-retired” Marines led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan show up looking for the Wolverines (this  is the High School mascot and the super original name they give their guerilla group). I’m pretty much in love with JDM. First he played Denny on Grey’s Anatomy, a show I haven’t seen in years but that I used to be addicted to. Then he showed up as Comedian in Watchmen and his fate as a hunk was sealed. But who am I kidding? I have a list a mile long of men I’m in love with 😉 He has a few great lines and a few great smiles. Which is all I really need from him anyway. One of his buddies is Kenneth Choi who is seriously adorable and gaining quite the reputation as a military sidekick. I have no idea who the third guy was but he was cool.

The baddies were led by Will Yun Lee aka Captain Cho of North Korea. He zeroes in on big bro within minutes of landing and knows he’s going to be trouble. He’s so determined to smoke him out, he does some pretty dastardly (wow, I can’t believe I just used that word, what is this, a Disney movie?) things to make it happen. But he seriously underestimates who he’s dealing with and you can guess what becomes of that.

I’m not going to say that this movie was bad but it wasn’t great either. The emotions were obviously forced at times, even from Hemsworth and Hutcherson who I consider to be pretty talented in that regard for such pretty men. And some of the dialogue was so cliche as to be laughable. The one major thing it has going for it is that no one is safe. Not even the pretty people. That led to some truly shocking death scenes, one of which I expected but that still made me gasp audibly when it happened.

But who am I kidding? I love gratuitous violence and I have a thing for watching American’s kick some ass (even if those “Americans” are imported from Australia). So I enjoyed it.

3 out of 5 Sci-Fives!

three out of five sci-fives

Immortals (sort of) Beloved

Here’s the thing.  Does this movie have a pretty basic plot?  Yes.  Is it full of pretty young people?  Yes.  Is it worth paying the $12 ticket price?  I think so.

I’ll admit that I liked Immortals much more than the two other people I attended it with and it’s probably because of the gratuitous violence and the over abundance of scantily clad men.  Very scrumptious scantily clad men.  (Don’t worry guys, you get to see Freida Pinto get nekked…well…sort of).  But even my companions had to admit that the film was gorgeous.  We saw it in 3D and even though it was filmed using 3D technology, it gave me a bit of a headache for some reason.  But I’m going to blame that on the theatre because I’m 99% sure one of the lights behind the screen was burned out which caused a strange shadowy hole in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.  I say this because the 3D was flawless otherwise.  Did it really need the 3D?  Probably not.  I can’t remember anything going towards the screen that would have made the 3D super obvious but it did add a richness to the gold and sepia tone that was so deftly used by director Tarsem Singh.  The plot was simple but it kept me interested throughout and I credit that to four actors: Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Mickey Rourke and the Luke Evans/John Hurt combo.  Uhh…so I guess that’s technically 5 actors playing 4 characters.

I fell madly in love with Henry Cavill when he played Charles Brandon in HBO’s The Tudors.  I mean seriously.  He’s ridiculously good-looking.  And the fact that he’s the new Superman gives me hope that I’ll finally be able to wipe that horrid Bryan Singer version out of my mind for good.  But besides being fun to look at, Cavill can act and he shows a fearlessness that other pretty boys can’t or won’t tap into.  He was in fine form as Theseus, our noble hero.  His fight scenes were epic in all their slow-fast-slow-motion glory but aside from that he showed a kindness that was very endearing.  I’m excited to see more of him in the future.

I don’t know what rock I was hiding under but I had no idea going into the theatre that Stephen Dorff was in this film.  So when I saw him in the salt mines I almost choked on my bubblegum.  First of all, he doesn’t look a day older than he did in Blade which was over 13 years ago which was kind of strange but not surprising at the same time.  Second of all, this seemed like the most random casting decision to me.  Space Truckers and Blade aside, I will forever hold Dorff in my heart as the kid from The Power of One.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him run around and fight the good fight.  In the end he was probably my favorite character in the film.  Stavros the slave didn’t have a ton of lines but the ones he had he delivered with flair.  Plus, I’ve got a soft spot for loyal sidekicks so that probably has something to do with it too.

John Hurt is a legend, there’s no denying it.  Most youngins only really know him from Hellboy and Harry Potter which is too bad.  The man has 172 acting credits to his name.  That’s insane.  I knew exactly who the old man was the moment he popped up on screen.  Normally I would chock that up to my weird movie/TV psychic ability but I have the feeling that I wasn’t the only one in this case.  His conversion to his “normal” Zeus state was our first taste of the films special effects and it was lovely to see the cape swirl around and morph him from an old man into a young god.  I can’t say the same for Athena’s strange Mystique-statue-that-hugs-herself-transformation.  Luke Evans is making quite a career playing Greek gods (having also played Apollo in last year’s Clash of the Titans) and was by far the best actor of all the Olympians.  He’s not your run of the mill pretty boy, he has some character to his face and I found myself wishing that he was on screen more.  I look forward to seeing what he brings to The Raven.

I find myself constantly in awe of Mickey Rourke.  He does things I would never expect and steals every scene that he’s in.  I would be perfectly happy to hear him read the Dictionary because there’s something about his voice that is both comforting and disconcerting, like he’s dangerous but you desperately want to help him anyways.  Or maybe I just have an overactive imagination.  The point of all this is that, from an acting standpoint, he is the best reason to watch this film.  It’s like he doesn’t even have to try, he just IS.  Does that make sense to anyone else besides me?  He’s effortless as King Hyperion, a ruthless and bloodthirsty ruler who couldn’t save his own family so he wants to destroy everyone else’s.  I would go so far as to dub him the best villain of the year.  The one thing I didn’t like?  His bizarre lobster-claw bunny-ear helmet.  What the fuck were you thinking with that one Eiko Ishieko?!

Seriously. No, seriously.

Strangely, there seemed to be a lot of teenage vampires in this movie.  Kellan Lutz (Twilight) and Joseph Morgan (The Vampire Diaries) were fine but unremarkable as Poseidon and Lysander.  Lysander did have one particularly painful scene that even had me girding my loins.  Hey Lysander, wasn’t worth it dude, just FYI.  Daniel Sharman as Ares rounded out the male gods. At least, the ones that are named and recognizable. He’s really only notable for some whining and one brilliant head-smashing scene. 

Isabel Lucas (aka the hot chick who turns out to be a transformer and tries to kill Sam in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) is stunning as Athena, the goddess with daddy issues.  She really is gorgeous but she doesn’t quite seem badass enough to play the goddess of war.  Y’all know I love Freida Pinto, I think she’s beyond beautiful.  As Phaedra the focus was a little bit too much on her looks.  Her makeup was way too flawless, even after taking a shower.  I mean, come on, that mascara would be running down her face and she’d be looking like a big ol’ hot mess.  Makeup that doesn’t move is perfectly acceptable for a goddess but notsomuch for a mortal imho. Also, she has a vision of a body wrapped in a shroud that is never identified.  That was dumb. 

There was plenty of blood and gore to spare.  At one point a monk cut off his own tongue.  It was pretty awesome.  Being a total history nerd, I knew what the giant brazen bull was for but I couldn’t help but wonder if the rest of the audience knew, especially the girl sitting next to me who kept whipping out her phone to check her text messages.  I would have liked to have shown her in person what it was used for.  They didn’t reveal the inside until very late in the film and I could tell by the uncomfortable shifting of the people around me that I was correct in guessing that they hadn’t known.  They’ll probably never look at one of these the same way again. 

A different kind of torture

Speaking of bulls, the interpretation of the minotaur was brilliant.  One of the most inspired parts of the film for sure.  The battle scenes were AH-MAZING.  Especially the ones involving the Olympians.  The price of the movie ticket was worth it just to see them swirl and flip around making mince meat out of the Titans and vice versa.

My biggest tiff with the film is the same one I usually have, not being accurate to the stories on which they are based.  In this case pretty much everyone mortal is portrayed incorrectly.  Theseus is not a bastard rape baby, but was fathered by both King Aegeus and Poseidon, the brother of Zeus.  Yes, he was raised by his mother, but he always knew he was the child of a king and when he came of age he set out to claim his place as heir to the throne. He could have taken the easy way by sea (especially seeing as he was a joint child of Poseidon) but instead he chose to do things the hard way and travelled by land.  Thanks to his stubbornness and the trials that resulted from it, he is famous for defeating the guards of the 6 entrances to the underworld along the way thereby contributing to his legend.  And he had three sons by two wives, not just Acamas as the movie would have you believe.  Moving on to Phaedra.  Virgin oracle?  Not so much.  More of a wife with a wondering eye.  At one point she even fell in love with her step-son.  Yeesh.  She’s also Theseus’ second wife, not his first (that honor goes to the queen of the Amazons).  The choice to make Hyperion the Antagonist was an interesting one.  Almost nothing is known of Hyperion in Greek mythology other than the fact that he was a Titan (that’s right, he didn’t release them, he WAS one).  Lysander was a Spartan, not a Greek and while he was certainly a cunning politician, he was not a traitorous minion of an invading king.

Several of the Olympians are left out including Hera, Demeter, Aphrodite, Hades, Hermes, Hephaestus and Artemis.  However, Heracles is present which was kind of random. 

Heracles? wtf are you doing here?

According to the movie Ares is the creator of the Epirus Bow, the weapon everyone wants and the catalyst of the film; however, I’ve never heard of this weapon before.  I like the idea of it though.  As for the helmets worn by the Olympians….well…let’s just say that I feel kind of bad for Kellan Lutz.

Kellan quick! There's a bug on your head!

I’m a big fan of the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans and Immortals will not be replacing it as my go-to Greek mythology film.  However, I liked Immortals waaaay more than the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans, a lame remake that never should have been made.  Sorry Liam Neeson, not even you can top Laurence Olivier.

Three out of five sci-fives!