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November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes when watching a movie, advises Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel, “it doesn’t pay dividends to think too hard about how what happens, happens.” He dishes out that counsel in his review of the remake of Red Dawn, which imagines an invasion of the U.S. by, among others, North Korea. (He notes that the country does indeed have a large standing army, but that it won’t help “to worry about how they could transport that army to the Pacific Northwest.”) Obviously, most other critics were unwilling to switch off the critical part of their brains in assessing the movie, which, virtually to a man, they have trashed. In the movie, our last hope to ward off the invaders, notes Kyle Smith in the New York Post, “is a handful of high school football players, nerds and cheerleaders trying their luck with rocket launchers. So it’s Kim Jong-un versus Some Young Dumb ‘Uns.” Actually, as Manohla Dargis observes in the New York Times, Kim — who, like his father, is reportedly a movie fan — will probably love the fact that his country has become “a Hollywood villain.” As for how they were able to send their army to the U.S., Dargis quotes a colleague who commented, “What, did they paddle over in canoes?” (The movie shows them landing by parachute, but does not show the troop-carrier-sized planes that would have been necessary to transport an invading army.) And Bruce Demara sums up in the Toronto Star: “Just really, really lame.” In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert explains how the implausible story of an invasion of America by North Korea came about (given the fact that in the original Red Dawn, released in 1984, the principal invaders were Russia and China): “After principal photography was completed on this film three years ago and its studio (MGM) went belly-up, the enemy identity was changed to North Korea by reshooting several scenes, redubbing lots of dialogue and using digital adjustment to change the looks of flags, uniforms and insignia on trucks and tanks. Did this involve a change in ideology in Hollywood? Not really. A marketing genius figured out that China is one of the biggest markets for American movie exports, and North Korea generates unimpressive box-office bucks for Yank product, as the trade papers like to word it.”