Red Dawn (2012)

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Released 3-Apr-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-x 3 for other titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 89:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dan Bradley
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Chris Hemsworth
Josh Peck
Josh Hutcherson
Adrianne Palicki
Isabel Lucas
Connor Cruise
Case ?
RPI ? Music Ramin Djawadi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is spending a few weeks in his home town of Spokane, catching up with his Police Chief father, his younger brother Matt (Josh Peck) and Matt’s girlfriend Erica (Isabel Lucas). One morning warplanes fly overhead and paratroops land, rounding up the citizens. It seems that the USA has been invaded by North Korea and that the ruthless Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee) is now the town’s military governor. Jed, Matt and some others, including Toni (Adrianne Palicki), Robert (Josh Hutcherson) and Daryl (Connor Cruise) flee into the surrounding hills, and decide to fight the invaders. Urban warfare ensues as the group attack the occupying force, and face the North Korean response.

     Red Dawn is based upon the motion picture of the same name that was released in 1984. That film starred Patrick Swayze and was directed and co-written by right wing, and NRA member, John Milius. The original Red Dawn was no masterpiece; it was a violent, nihilistic peon for gun culture however the film made sense in terms of Cold War paranoia as the invaders were Russian and Cuban. That film became a cult favourite, against which the new Red Dawn has been unfavourably compared. But neither have much in the way of plot, or believable characters.

     Perhaps understanding that a new kind of paranoia was needed, the new Red Dawn opens with a montage of world events including the European currency crisis, cyber-attacks on American computer systems, the change in leadership in North Korea and escalating tensions upon that divided peninsula. Interestingly, the enemy in this remake were originally China, before being changed in post-production to North Korea. It is just too hard to find villains these days! Yet, a North Korean invasion, rather than a Soviet one, never seems quite the same, so it is perhaps best to view Red Dawn as an action film, and ignore the rest.

     As an action film, Red Dawn has quite a bit going for it. It is 25 minutes shorter than the earlier Red Dawn so wastes little time in getting going or exposition. The action sequences are frequent and have an excellent, aggressive sound design; the car crashes crunch, rockets and explosions resonate, engines roar, bullets ricochet and debris falls all around the sound stage and there are good directional effects, putting the viewer right in the middle of the action. The camera work is less successful, being of the extreme queasy cam variety with quick intercutting. This technique perhaps looks intense and exciting but it is really difficult in a number of sequences to know what is going on and who is doing what as the camera is moving so rapidly. This lessens our identification and affinity with the young characters.

     Indeed, the film also has little character development and the transition of the group from teenaged kids to murderous guerrillas killing the enemy without mercy or doubt is just too easy. Weapons handling, even unfamiliar weapons taken from the enemy including rocket launchers, is a cinch. In the main role, Chris Hemsworth is not too bad, but any character development between his Jed and brother Matt, or the “love interest” with Toni, is chunky to say the least. The film could also have used a bit of humour, as everything is just so serious.

     At its best in the action sequences Red Dawn is loud and quite spectacular with explosions, APCs on fire, rockets flying and gunfire crashing around the sound stage. Any character development is less successful, but at 90 minutes the film does not outstay its welcome.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Red Dawn is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original ratio being 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print has the look of digital filmmaking. Detail is generally sharp and clean, the exception being during the action when the waving and moving camera results in softness and varied contrast and brightness. The wide shots are however good, with blacks and shadow detail excellent. The colours have that digital sheen, and the colours in some interiors, including skin tones, take on a yellow tinge. Exteriors, and especially the blue tones, are very good and the explosions look spectacular.

     Marks and artefacts are absent except for some minor ghosting with movement, such as against the mottled leaves at 22:11 or against vertical lines.

     The layer change at 41:52 resulted in a slight pause.

     There are English subtitles for the hearing impaired. During the film yellow subtitles automatically translated the sections of non-English dialogue.

     The print looks good, except during some queasy cam sequences. That is nothing to do with the DVD authoring, but the way Red Dawn was filmed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 English descriptive audio track at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue was mostly easy to understand although some of the actors mumbled on occasion, I doubt anything vital is lost, and there are always the subtitles. Music and ambient sounds, such as insect noises, were frequently in the surrounds. The entire sound stage burst into life during the action sequences with the car crashes, rockets and explosions, engines, bullet hits, ricochets and debris crisp and with good separation. There are also good directional effects including gunfire off stage and helicopter and tank engines, resulting in a loud and enveloping experience. The sub-woofer was fully utilised supporting engines, rumbles and explosions.

    Lip synchronisation was fine, except for some of the Korean dialogue, which I suspect was originally Chinese. However, it was fleeting and not distracting.

     The original score by Ramin Djwadi (Game of Thrones) was suitably martial and did what was required. It was well presented in the audio mix.

     The audio track is loud and enveloping; an excellent track, just what an action film needs.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Trailers for Silver Linings Playbook (2:20), Beautiful Creatures (1:40),and Side Effects (1:49) play on start-up and must be skipped. They cannot be selected from the menu. There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region 1 release of Red Dawn is NTSC and has no extras. There is not currently a Region 2 UK version listed. No reason to go past the local release.

Summary

     Red Dawn is based upon the motion picture of the same name that was released in 1984. The action sequences are loud and spectacular but any character development is less successful. Straight forward and quite enjoyable, at 90 minutes the film does not outstay its welcome.

     The video is generally fine, the audio explosive and spectacular. There are no extras, but no other release has any.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, April 12, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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