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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Red Dawn

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Red Dawn."
Gleefully paranoid, hyperviolent and more than a little racist, the remake "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) is a time-waster for the tinfoil hat set.

The 1984 original pitted American youths against invading Russkies, to use the vintage term. It played out against the "Evil Empire" stage of the Cold War—a time when the Soviet Union was actually in decline, but both nations were still aiming considerable nuclear weaponry at each other, as they had done since the 1950s.

This time, director Dan Bradley and co-writers Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore launch a North Korean air invasion on the Pacific Northwest. The monolithic but clever commies have shut down the whole power grid using some secret technology. So, no TV, Internet or radio communications, except for what can be done with batteries.

Not a problem for a bunch of plucky teens led by ex-soldier Jed (Chris Hemsworth), son of Spokane Police Chief Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen). He and brother Matt (Josh Peck) transform pals Toni (Adrianna Palicki), Robert (Josh Hutcherson), Erica (Isabel Lucas) and Daryl (Connor Cruise)—along with some others -- into a stone-cold militia equally adept as snipers, insurgents and survivalists.

The commandoes nickname themselves the Wolverines, after their high school mascot. The Wolverines torment the occupiers for a good 90 minutes but never manage to overthrow them, since they have neither the requisite numbers nor the necessary firepower. They also deal harshly with collaborators.

Aided by the Russians, the North Koreans, we learn, have parachuted in and overtaken most of the United States except for a portion from Alabama to Arizona, and Michigan to Montana. (In this milieu, they don't mess with Texas.) Evidently, the Mexicans and Canadians aren't coming to anyone's rescue, let alone those Euro-wimps from NATO.

The Koreans are handing out summary executions, and the theme of the picture is laid out when Chief Eckert has a gun held to his head by Captain Lo (Will Yun Lee), the new local prefect.

"I want you to go to war and stop this (expletive)!" Eckert shouts to his sons, whom he knows are hiding in the vicinity, "Or die trying!"

So they fight 'em in the woods, and blow 'em up downtown. The only morality consists of getting the enemy before they get you, and skin color and eye shape largely determine who's evil.

The film contains constant gun violence, occasional gore, racist characterizations, fleeting profanity and pervasive crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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