You might wonder why big names like Josh Hutcherson, who starred in The Hunger Games, and Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in Thor and The Avengers, would sign on for ensemble roles in a remake of the 1980s Cold War flick Red Dawn. Well, it's because even though the movie is just hitting theaters this weekend, they signed on long before they became so successful.
See, the drama behind the new Red Dawn is almost as goofy as the movie itself. The film was shot ages ago but was shelved because the studio behind it went into bankruptcy. In the interim, the powers that be decided that it didn't make sense to aggravate China, because even though that's the nation that invades the U.S. in this new iteration, it's also one of the biggest box-office titans in the world. So, they went back in and digitally altered the movie, meaning that, now, Thor, the kid from The Hunger Games and a few other good-looking teenagers are fighting off the North Koreans in that crucially important strategic location, Spokane, Wash.
The original Red Dawn is pretty ludicrous, but the notion that everyday Americans would have to defend themselves against the Communist hordes of Cuba and Russia at least had a basis in the Cold War paranoia and saberrattling of the 1980s. No one is particularly worried about a North Korean invasion these days.
Despite the ridiculousness of teens like Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey and C. Thomas Howell teaming up as insurgents, the 1984 edition was a dark movie. Those characters were seriously scarred by their experience, and there are parts of it that are actually disturbing. This new edition doesn't delve that deep, and it eventually devolves into a findthe-secret-technology-and-stopthe-war movie.
No, it's not very good, and the use of shaky-cam feels like it was shot several years ago—which, as it happens, is the truth.Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can follow Anders on Twitter at @anderswright.
Anna Karenina: Director Joe Wright teams up again with his Pride & Prejudice star Keira Knightley to take on another period drama.
Barrio Film Festival: The inaugural debut of San Diego's latest film fest wraps up festival season nicely. Find details on Page 14.
Citadel: A terrified young father must join forces with a priest to save his baby daughter from the same freakish, feral children who brutally attacked his wife.
Holy Motors: Leos Carax's new film is a mindbender, starring Denis Lavant as a man/creature who inhabits different lives throughout Paris over the course of a single day. It's at times beautiful, at times disturbing, and the meaning behind it is, perhaps, best left to the audience. Also, Kylie Minogue has a part.
Life of Pi: Ang Lee's adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat is this year's movie that you simply must see on a big screen and in 3-D. Really. See our review on Page 22.
Rise of the Guardians: The Immortal Guardians—aka the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc.—team up to kick evil-spirit ass.
One Time Only
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Steve Martin is a high-powered exec trying to get home for the holidays, saddled with John Candy, an annoying shower-curtainring salesman with a soft side. Screens at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park, and at 8 p.m. the same night at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Hannah and Her Sisters: One of Woody Allen's best, and perfect for Thanksgiving. Mia Farrow is Hannah, whose husband (Michael Caine) falls for her sister (Barbara Hershey). Screens at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Not the 1970s version with Donald Sutherland. This edition, from the 1950s, is as much about communism as it as about invaders from outer space. Screens at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Round Midnight: Drama about sax man Dexter Gordon, his life in Paris and his struggle with alcoholism. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Twelve Monkeys: Terry Gilliam's timetwisting sci-fi movie earned Brad Pitt his first Oscar nomination. Screens at 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
2 Days in New York: Julie Delpy cowrote, directed and stars in this New York film. She and her boyfriend (Chris Rock) find their lives thrown off when both of their families come to visit. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Prairie Love: Quirky film about three lonely North Dakotans. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, at the Central Library, Downtown.
The Time Machine: This is the terrific 1960 adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel, not the crappy 2002 version. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear: Not nearly as good as the original. Screens at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park.
The Royal Tenenbaums: All of Wes Anderson's films are about dysfunctional families, but they don't get any more dysfunctional than the Tenenbaums. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Silver Linings Playbook: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar guy from Philly who's just out of the mental hospital, having lost his job, his home and his wife. He moves in with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) in hopes of regaining his marriage, but things are thrown askew by Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has problems of her own.
A Royal Affair: Period piece about a Danish woman, the German doctor she loves and her crazy husband, who happens to be the king.
Jab Tak Hai Jaan: The final Bollywood musical from Yash Chopra, one of the industry's legends. Screens at Horton Plaza.
Let it Snow: The IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park gets animated and kid-friendly just in time for the holidays.
Lincoln: It might as well have been called The 13th Amendment. Despite another spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln's biopic is really about getting legislation through Congress.
This Must Be the Place: Sean Penn is an aging goth rocker who travels from Dublin to New York City to confront the man who humiliated his dad. Yeah, just as weird as it sounds.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2: At last, the long national nightmare is over.
Wake in Fright: Considered one of the seminal films of Australian cinema, this disturbing '70s feature about a schoolteacher who's confronted by a group of derelicts has been virtually unseen in the U.S.
Detropia: The makers of Jesus Camp take a look at Motown, one of the hardesthit urban areas in the nation. Some of the images of abandoned areas are amazing and disturbing.
A Late Quartet: A famous string quartet, whose members include Christopher Walken, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener, struggle to stay together after one of them gets some terrible news.
Skyfall: Daniel Craig's third outing as 007 is thankfully closer to Casino Royale than Quantum of Solace. This time, he's going up against Javier Bardem, who has some history with MI-6.
Flight: Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film in more than a decade suffers from many of the standard alcoholism-film clichés, but it features a tremendous performance from Denzel Washington, playing a pilot who lands his broken jet miraculously, with minimal loss of life.
The Other Son: An Israeli and a Palestinian discover they were switched at birth.
Tales of the Maya Skies: This IMAX movie explores the rich history of the Mayan people, just in time for the end of the world. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Man With the Iron Fists: The Wu-Tang Clan's RZA co-wrote (with Eli Roth), directed and stars in this ultraviolent martial-arts epic, which also features Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. They're all on the trail of a fortune in gold.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: Go white-water rafting without actually getting wet. Screens on Fridays through November (except Nov. 30) at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West: Get up close and personal with the famous explorers in IMAX, Fridays through November (except Nov. 16) at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Sessions: John Hawkes is great as Mark O'Brien, a writer and poet paralyzed by polio who turns to a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) in order to lose his virginity at age 38.
Wreck-It Ralph: The latest animated film from Disney stars John C. Reilly as Ralph, the bad guy in an old-school video game who desperately wants to be liked.
Chasing Mavericks: A surfing movie, surprisingly co-directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson, about a teen who turns to crusty surfing legend Gerard Butler to help him survive a massive wave.
Cloud Atlas: This epic production is almost three hours long and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving in multiple roles. It consists of six stories that span different time periods, with a running storyline about reincarnation and the effects of our actions on future generations.
Fun Size: A teenage girl loses track of her little brother while attending a Halloween party thrown by a really cute boy.
Alex Cross: We're used to Morgan Freeman in the role of this famous detective. Now the part is played by Tyler Perry. Another obvious sign of the impending apocalypse.
Paranormal Activity 4: Now with more paranormal.
Seven Psychopaths: Martin McDonagh returns with another violent comedic drama. Colin Farrell stars as Marty, an L.A. screenwriter surrounded by psychopaths such as Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits. Like McDonagh's debut, In Bruges, this one has an emotional heart to it, despite the blood and guts.
Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this take on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and believe it or not, it's gonna be a Best Picture contender.
Here Comes the Boom: High-school biology teacher Kevin James becomes an MMA cage fighter in order to keep his school's extracurricular activities afloat.
Sinister: Novelist Ethan Hawke stumbles upon footage that explains how a family was murdered in the very house in which he's working—which, of course, puts him in serious danger, too.
Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is.
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton hasn't made a film that's been an original idea in years, so it sort of makes sense that he'd remake one of his own movies.
Taken 2: Remember all those dudes Liam Neeson killed in the thoroughly violent Taken? At least one of them has a family member out for a little payback.
Hotel Transylvania: You won't be surprised to hear that this new animated film involves vampires. And 3-D.
Looper: Director Rian Johnson (Brick, Brothers Bloom) teams once again with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for this time-twister; JGL is a hit man whose future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to be rubbed out.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: This adaptation of the beloved young-adult novel has made plenty of old adults feel for their youth.
Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick is the new girl at college who finds her place by joining a bad-ass all-girl vocal group.
The House at the End of the Street: Jennifer Lawrence and her mother, Elisabeth Shue, move next door to a house where there'd been a brutal murder. When Lawrence makes friends with the sole surviving family member, things get dangerous.
Trouble with the Curve: Aging baseball scout Clint Eastwood would have much more success if he'd stop talking to chairs.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: If it feels like they release one of these every summer, that's because that they release one of these every summer.
The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy concludes.
Ice Age: Continental Drift: So cold.
Flying Monsters 3D: No, it's not a crappy studio blockbuster—this one is all about dinosaurs and was written and directed by Richard Attenborough, using Avatar-like technology, and plays the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
To the Arctic 3-D: Cute-animal-movie alert No. 2. Meryl Streep narrates this new IMAX movie about a mama polar bear and her two cubs.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.