TO SAY THAT the remake of Red Dawn is better than the original isn't saying a lot: John Milius' 1984 flick is basically just porn for people in militias. Because you never know! Russia could invade at any minute—and then only a heavily armed band of teenagers will have the balls to fight back!
In 2012's Red Dawn, the Ruskie invaders have smartly been replaced with the Chinese—which makes perfect sense, as the Chinese will inevitably conquer us all. Oh, but wait: Red Dawn was shot back in 2009, before China became a super-important film market! Awkward. Luckily, Asians are interchangeable, so this Red Dawn got some CG revisions to turn its invaders into... um... North Koreans? Huh. North Koreans are about as threatening as Kiwis, but okay.
This time around, dreamy Iraq vet Jed (Chris Hemsworth) is visiting his family in Spokane when—AAAH! North Koreans start falling from the sky, shouting gibberish and shooting Americans! Chucking his emo brother Matt (Josh Peck) and Matt's dweeby friends into his pickup, Jed heads for the hills... and prepares to fight back. Soon enough, these tykes are a tight-knit group of sadistic little terrorists, finally putting all those hours of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to good use.
Like last summer's completely unnecessary Total Recall remake, the surprising thing about this completely unnecessary remake is that it's significantly better than it needs to be. It's as charmingly hammy as its predecessor, but this louder, punchier Red Dawn also makes a few decent stabs at establishing actual characters, not to mention getting some mileage out of good ol' irony. (Jed's time in Iraq made him an IED expert? Thanks for the tips, Iraqi insurgents!) But rest assured, National Rifle Associates: This Red Dawn still taps into the delusional, violent, unapologetic jingoism that made the first Red Dawn such a bizarrely fun fantasy. As one gentleman proudly noted after my screening, "Them kids really got 'er done." Indeed they did, sir. Indeed they did.