The Latest War Films: Red Dawn & Lincoln – Review

Red Dawn is a remake that failed to reboot the original for a new generation. The film was created for release in 2010, but was shelved in order to replace the invading troops of Chinese with North Koreans. The decision was made to maintain access to the China box office. The original film was based on the Russians invading.

The story is about a small group of northwestern teens somewhere between Seattle and Spokane, who enter into gorilla warfare to take back their town from the invading army. The original took place in the midwest.

Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers, Thor, Snow White and the Huntsman) played the lead role of Jed Eckert who heads up the band of teens called Wolverine. Josh Peck of Nickelodeon fame played the younger brother who learns a hard lesson about team work and eventually steps up to become a great leader in the shadow of his brother’s training.

While the original would gain 4 out of 5 stars from most moviegoers, this remake lands some where around 3-3.5 stars. If you are a war film enthusiast that hasn’t seen the original, you might bump it up to a solid 4. However, if you prefer war-based films with more finesse and fewer explosions, I’d recommend you watch Lincoln.

Stephen Spielberg’s (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List) Lincoln will obtain critical acclaim at the Oscars®. Daniel Day-Lewis’ (My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood) performance of Lincoln was well executed and endearing to the audience. Sally Field (Places in the Heart, Norma Rae) was incredible as Mary Todd Lincoln. Both actors are sure to receive Oscar® nominations.

The story is about America’s president struggling with the continued carnage on the Civil War battlefield and his fight with many inside of his cabinet on the decision to emancipate slaves. While history tells us the focus was more centered on the economics of the times, the film only referenced it once – focusing more on the passing of the 13th Amendment.

The film was steeped in dialog of yesteryear, salted in with a handful of contemporary obscenities that jolted me out of the story a few times.  Aside from those poor choices, the film had my full attention and the 150 minutes went buy faster than many of the shorter films I’ve watched over the past few weeks.

If you appreciate the artistry of film and the incredible banter of earlier times in movies, you won’t want to miss this feature. The performances are excellent, but the cinematic production values are far more intimate than a blockbuster film. Spielberg kept his budget low in keeping with box office expectations for such a film, but he amped up the level of intimacy within the film’s characters to compensate.

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