Movies, Reviews Red Dawn (1984) December 20, 2012 David DeMoss 16 Comments Our review of the 1984 fantasy film co-written and directed by one of my (and your) favorite filmmakers, John Milius.
16 thoughts on “Red Dawn (1984)”
I really hadn’t ever needed the acronym LMAO until that line about the airplane crash and Ed Wood.
Also, and maybe you want to comment on this, I had heard that John Milius was inspired by the fact that he thought American teenagers were “too soft.”
Where did Milius ever have the chance to meet a regular American teenager in La-La Land?
I’m betting that the first time he ever met a teenager was when he (under his nom de plume, Walter Sobchuck) he was involved in the Case of the Missing Lebowski.
If that was, indeed, Milius’ motivation, I can’t find any record of him saying so in public…reinforcing my theory that he’s smarter than your average right-wing lunatic. Further evidence: the following, wonderful quote, which I managed to find in five seconds:
But, on the other hand, I can totally see the “softness” of your average American teenager figuring into his calculations. He and I are both native Missourians who moved out West to make our fortunes and you wouldn’t think you’d catch Culture Shock from a mere two thousand (or so) mile move across the same damn country…but you can. And it would’ve been even more acute back in the 60s, when Milius went from the patrician capital of our home state, St. Louis, to USC’s School of Cinema (Hyphen) Television.
Honestly, as a USC student in the 60s, you would’ve had to work real hard not come into contact with your fair share of teenagers.
As I have to come to realize, you can’t really paint a broad brush over one side or another of the political spectrum. Michael Savage is another right winger who vocally criticizes all of the ABC Radio/Fox News hacks like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. Regardless, men like Savage and Milius are psychos.
Worse yet, they’re American psychos, the most lethal psychos of all.
I know I’ve seen this movie (when it came out on VHS) but I can’t remember a thing about it. I don’t even remember the “Wolverines!” or “Avenge me!” catch phrases. It probably didn’t bore me (because explosions in movies were pretty important to me when I was 20) but obviously it didn’t leave any marks on my psyche.
The same’s true regardless of how often you see it. Even in the time it took to shoot what I wrote and start editing, the details began fading like puffs of smoke on a Colorado battlefield.
So, Milius wrote Apocalypse Now? Huh. Never knew that. Learn something new everyday, I guess. Anyway, excellent review as alw….wait, is that an S.H. MonsterArts figure in the background of the video?! AWESOME!!! Which figure is it? Please tell me ,tell me!
…Sorry about that. The toy nerd section of my brain took over for a second.
If I were trying to be as accurate as possible, I’d say something like, “Milius wrote the original draft of what eventually became Apocalypse Now after years of production delays, technical headaches, set-destroying typhoons, and dealing with Marlon Brando warped it into its current shape (before Coppola warped it again in 2001 with the release of its Redux).”
And yes, that’s my recently-acquired Rainbow Mothra, brought back by friends after their last trip to Seattle. I have awesome friends.
I’m going to have to go against the grain on this one. I rather like Red Dawn although I can see why others wouldn’t. Virtually every element of the film is polarizing. The director, the main actors, the politics of the film, heck even the decade it was made in are all love it or hate it factors. When it comes to Red Dawn, a lot of people just don’t “get it”. I guess that puts it on the big pile of things that people either get or don’t get, such as Godzilla, Star Trek, Michael Bay, Schwarzenegger, Slasher Films, Jess Franco and Comic Book movies.
Oh, I “get” it. I just don’t want it. But ignore that for now and tell us the important part: why do you like it? Why does anyone? I mean, I get why survivalists and the End of the World preppers would exalt this as a holy text, written by God Herself and handed down to the greatest band in the world, but I’ve noticed a great deal of sane people (my friends, my colleagues, and my friends-who-happen-to-be-colleagues) un-ironically enjoy this film, too. And as a snarky as I’m sure I’m coming across here, I really am curious as to why?
Hmmm. You pose an interesting question. I can tell you why I like the movie, but the reasons won’t necessarily jive for you. I grew up in (and still live in) Northeast Pa. I spent a lot of my young life doing outdoorsy things. Fishing, shooting, hiking and just in general messing around in the woods. Red Dawn reminds me of that period of my life. A point when it seemed that kids really could change the world. A point where the good guys all wore one color and the bad guys all wore another. A point where Charlie Sheen was a respected actor and not a sex-addicted egomaniac. I’ve liked Patrick Swayze ever since I saw him in North and South. I still enjoy shooting and fishing although it seems like there’s virtually no where left to do it anymore. So I guess that sums it up.
Oh, and something else. I actually know some REAL survivalists and preppers. Don’t let the tv fool you. Most of them you would never know as such unless you visited their homes. And most of them are hard-core atheists. They believe that man is a vicious predator who only lives in groups because of the benefits it brings. And they blame the religious for EVERYTHING.
Actually, that jives rather well with other answers I’ve received in the past (and will probably receive again in the future). Thank you, Daniel. And don’t think I get my info only from the TV. In fact, I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate if you’d all like a peak at the culture I was born and raised into, watch Winters Bone sometime.
I think this film has a special place in the hearts of some people who grew up in the eighties reading Jerry Pournelle – but I was one of them, and while I’m fairly sure I’ve seen it it just never grabbed hold even on the young and impressionable version of me.
The not-plane-crash takes the cake for badness, but that RPG shot at the helicopter is also pretty dire – the super slow launch so that you can see what’s happening, and then the little “piff” of the squib going off on the target.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if their guns wound up making “pew-pew” noises, like the alien weapons in a Halo game…though, actually, that’s not fair, since Milius is a stickler for accuracy when it comes to small things like that. It’s the big things, like characters, who got the short shift here, so I’m not at all surprised nothing in this film grabbed you. There’s no one in it to reach out and grab the audience, unless you refer to all these characters by their actor’s names…which, admittedly, most people do.
BTW, if you want to see something good not only written by Millus but directed as well, take a look at Dillinger sometime. Think of Michael Mann’s Public Enemies except that it’s good.
I liked Red Dawn because it was stark and less romanticized than action movies of the time. You could easily dismiss the story as a polemic, “Those Evil Reds will Come and Take our Women–until we kick their butt” but it’s actually a depressing and disturbing look at a lot of the consequences for our heroes’ action movie behavior. Yes, they kill a shitload of Russians (and presumably Cubans) but the end result of their actions is…nothing. The Russians we meet don’t want to be in Colorado anymore than the Wolverines want them to be and we see at least some of them as teenagers no older than the protagonists. The heroes don’t liberate their town or the USA or really accomplish anything, in all likelihood. They also lose friends, their lives, their families, and arguably their sanity. John Milinus basically says, “Okay, you want to be a hero. Here is the PRICE of that.” It’s sort of like an Army commercial where you see filth, mud, dead friends, and missing limbs.
That, for me, brings me back despite being an incredibly liberal (though religious) guy in RL.