“Red Dawn” remake contains several key differences, not all beneficial

Mitch Sundquist, Staff Writer

On Nov. 21, a remake of the 1984 film Red Dawn was released in theaters throughout the U.S. The remakes of movies usually contain some key differences in the plot, and Red Dawn is no exception. Some of them were beneficial, as they closed up some holes in the plot. Others I thought changed the movie too much and were detrimental to the film. Here are some of the biggest changes from the two movies:

The Enemy
Obviously, this one had to be changed in order to keep things current. In the old movie, the Soviet Union invades the U.S. in the midst of the Cold War. Since the Soviet Union no longer exists, a new invader was necessary for the remake. And who better than North Korea? In the opening, a fictional (yet realistically alarming) storyline is revealed to show the events leading to the invasion. The U.S. economy fails, causing overseas investors pull out their investments. Allies leave the weak and brittle U.S., and a new, young dictator eager to prove himself decides to wipe out the former most powerful country in the world. The switch to a new and more current enemy was a smart move that surely captured a lot of people’s interest.

Changing the setting for the remake was a good call by director Dan Bradley. The original Red Dawn takes place in Calumet, Colorado, which looks like it has the same population as BV, so why the invading Soviet army would begin their invasion of America in the smallest town in the Midwest is beyond me. Sure, it adds to the idea of “underdogs taking down a much larger force,” but I doubt the Soviet army would have ever been there in the first place. The remake takes place in Spokane, Washington — Spokane is a much more realistic premise, since it has a large population and is on the coast. Unlike the original, I didn’t watch the entire movie wondering why the invading army was even there.

Older Brother “Jed”
This is one of the things that really bothered me about the original. Apparently, in 1984, every single teenager (or at least the ones who weren’t captured) in Calumet knew how to use a gun with precision. Sure, they probably went hunting with their dads and killed a few deer. But I’m going to boldly predict they weren’t trained in the art of guerrilla warfare or the process of making bombs. And the fact that they learned to do that in a few days is absurd. In the remake, the older brother Jed is a marine returning home from duty. This makes the plot much more believable, since after the invasion, Jed takes the kids to the woods and trains them for a few days. Or weeks. Or months. I don’t know — the movie isn’t very clear about the duration of their training. But regardless, at least they have some kind of professional training before they go and fight the most powerful nation in the world by themselves.

The Daryl Dilemma
Daryl is one the teenagers who escapes from the Soviets/Koreans and joins the fighting force. His father also happens to be the mayor of the town that is invaded. In both movies, Daryl’s father attempts to appease the invaders instead of fighting back, and in both movies, the enemy puts a tracking device in Daryl. In the original, the Soviets torture him and force him to swallow it. In the remake, a random Russian guy stabs it into him during a fight. The other kids eventually find out the they are being tracked, and decide to get rid of Daryl. But how they do it in the two movies is outrageously different. In the remake, Daryl decides on his own to leave the group to ensure their safety. In the original, they kill him. That’s right, they execute Daryl for leading the enemy to them. This is actually one of the few changes I didn’t like about the remake. Not because I enjoy seeing teenagers executed by their friends, but because it shows how the pressures of war can affect people. At this point in the original, the morals of the group are completely destroyed. This isn’t some Soviet soldier they’re killing. This is Daryl, a kid they’ve known for years and who had fought for freedom alongside them for months. And they just kill him. Clearly, the effects of the war on the kids were tremendous, and you just can’t see that in the remake, which really disappointed me.

Overall, I thought the remake of Red Dawn was an excellent compliment to the original. It did a fantastic job of making the plot more believable and realistic, which made it easier to enjoy. Although neither movie’s plot really makes sense, they are both wonderfully entertaining, and I would recommend seeing both of them.