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jdavidb (1361)

jdavidb
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http://voiceofjohn.blogspot.com/

J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Friday October 03, 2008
09:03 AM

Review of Red Dawn

[ #37595 ]

Sarah and I watched this last night from Netflix. I'm so disappointed. I'm more than ready to believe the premise of high-school guerrilla warfare. But this was clearly written by a soldier, not by someone with knowledge of emotion and plot. The emotions are completely wooden. The only love in the story is a girl going gaga for a married soldier, and even that was barely detectable. I couldn't feel anything for all but one of the deaths in the movie (and the only thing I felt for that one was shock).

The soldier who must have wrote this hammered in the following lesson over and over again: when you're dying, try to take out one last guy from the other side, and say something dramatic and glorious so your death will be meaningful. Yuck. He hammered it in for both sides, too. Be a good soldier, and fight for your state.

Speaking of which, that's the moral read to us explicitly at the end of the film: these people fought and died for their government. Not for their families. For their government.

My imagination was alive with ideas of young guys going off in the woods and keeping a shadow civilization going, starting families with the girls and defending themselves. A shame that didn't happen. In the mind of this script writer, girls fall only for old military guys (probably just like the script writer, I'll bet).

There were lots of action scenes, but they were boring as all get out. Obviously written by somebody who thinks the interesting part about wars is the battles and not the history and ideas and people involved. There was lots of senseless deaths, etc., so I guess he was trying to tell us how awful wars are from a first hand view.

The characterization was practically dead, as were most of the characters. Lots of people were defined at the beginning, and then we never heard from them again. Sometimes they were off to the side in the background, never being a personality. Sometimes we just learned they'd died somewhere along the way. The relationships between the characters weren't even good enough to be melodramatic. It was like seeing the very Soviet propaganda the film had, telling us how good families were and how they made us better citizens. Nothing genuinely worth fighting for, in my opinion.

The film also suffered from the long, long foreign language sequences. You have to be trilingual to understand it. (Seriously: Russian and Spanish, in addition to English, because of the film's laughable plot of Cuba launching part of the invasion.) Some short foreign language spots would have been great. Maybe one long one. But whole strategic planning sessions in Russian? Come on; at least The Passion of the Christ had captions!

I believe readily in the premise of guerrilla warfare in the unlikely event of invasion. I believe readily in the premise of fighting high schoolers. (Teenagehood is really a modern invention for delaying adulthood.) I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the idea of Cuba invading alongside the USSR. But I really didn't want to hear a lesson in dying for the state with no feeling at all.

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  • I wouldn't say it was written by a soldier, but by a propagandist. The idea of the film is to hate communists because they are evil people and if you don't hate them, they will take over your small town and park tanks in the town square. It's very much a product of its time. The fact that there is combat is incidental to the message of hating communists.

    I think if a real soldier had written it, the teenagers wouldn't have done such stupid things. :)

    • I think it's a great movie. Sure, it's propaganda, but there's nothing necessarily wrong with propaganda. Existential threats do exist.

      And I disagree that it is about "dying for your government." It's about dying for your fellow man, and for your way of life. It's about not backing down from the people who are trying to take away what is yours.

      jdavidb, I think you wanted something to back up your idea of a nationless society. But that's not how most people see the world. They see nations as the means

      • It's about dying for your fellow man, and for your way of life.

        No, my way of life involves people who mean something. The way of life in that movie involved people who don't seem to have real characterization. Yes, I'm out and out flaming the movie. Yes, somebody could rationally disagree. :)

        jdavidb, I think you wanted something to back up your idea of a nationless society.

        Well, that would have been cool, but really I just wanted some characters that looked like more than a D&D story played by gamers who just wanted to score lots of XP. I have watched and enjoyed many similar stories that did not support my idea of eliminating states. My cri

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • Man, do I ever need to start using preview again!

          --
          J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • No, my way of life involves people who mean something. The way of life in that movie involved people who don't seem to have real characterization.

          So you would only die for people who aren't dull? :-)

          I don't see what you don't see.

          I have watched and enjoyed many similar stories that did not support my idea of eliminating states.

          Sure, but you are attacking the message, which is one that many of us agree with: the nation is worth dying for, to the extent that the nation is what makes our way of life possible, and you detest that message.

          Take a gander at the things I said which aren't directly related to political belief: characters which start out distinctly identifiable, then move off to the side, then disappear.

          I don't agree.

          The need to be trilingual to understand the movie. (By captions, did you mean these sections had English captions? Or closed-captioning.)

          It's subtitles. You had them turned off on your DVD player.

          A girl who is unmoved by living with young, virile warriors but finds the old married soldier irrestible.

          Yeah because it's so unrealistic for a girl surrounded by chaos and death to be turned off by immaturity ...

          I am mystified as to why you'd want to turn them off, or why that turned out to be the default on my DVD player.

          It's a poor, um, movie watcher who

    • Agreed, not the product of a soldier. And who says soldiers don't know about emotion and plot?