Bad Flick, Good Disc
2.5 stars
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
0 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Bad Flick, Good Disc

Red Dawn (2012)

Street Date:
March 5th, 2013
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
March 7th, 2013
Movie Release Year:
20th Century Fox
93 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's never a good sign when your movie sits on the shelf for a couple years. That's what happened to the 'Red Dawn' remake. Much of the wait was a side effect of MGM's financial woes. However, there's another reason, something which the movie caught a lot of flak for. The invading army was originally intended to be Chinese, but in order to secure a better overseas take the studio intervened and the army was changed to North Koreans. It was almost as if the studio was saying, "Quick change it!" The rest of the movie is handled with just as much grace.

What made the first movie such a cult classic ("Go Wolverines!") is the way it treated the situation. Compared to '80s action movies, the original 'Red Dawn' was a quiet introspective affair. It was gritty, devoid of laughs, and focused entirely on what the country would feel and look like if it were invaded by an outside threat. The new version cranks up the action, dulls the emotional experience, and hopes you'll be distracted by really loud explosions.

The new 'Red Dawn' feels like a mixture of a CW high school drama mixed with a big-budget action movie. The original Wolverines were dark and grimy personalities hardened by war and losing everything they loved. The Wolverines here, while they undergo loss and despair, are more about taking on a Michael Bay-inspired bravado. While the action in the original is pretty sparse and not at all glamorous, the action here is non-stop nonsensical gunfights.

The idea is a scary one. What if, one day, we looked outside and saw an invading army moving in. This is America. Stuff like this doesn't happen here. It would be a shocking sight indeed. I'll admit that the beginning, with the paratroopers falling from the sky, is quite unnerving. However, quickly after that the movie devolves into a video game shoot'em up that fails to connect on a personal level like the original movie did.

The movie fails in many areas, but the most egregious is when it tries to get sentimental and patriotic. Throughout the movie this group of youngsters never felt like a cohesive whole fighting for life and liberty. Most of the time they simply seemed to delight in guns and blowing stuff up. That's needed for an action movie, but the human element is missing here. The entire group of Wolverines are caricature characters. They're one-note, all of them. Starting with Chris Hemsworth's Jed all the way down to Josh Hutcherson's Robert. There's never any time given to us to get to know the kids. The extra 21 minutes in the original helps flesh out the characters. In 93 minutes of the new 'Red Dawn' the kids do little more than shoot, shoot, shoot.

I don't think I actively hated the movie as much as other critics did. I simply found it to be a soggy mind-numbing experience in explosion excess. A great example of how to take an original idea and water it down for the masses.

Even if we forget the insensitive racial controversy, we're still left with an action movie that is unable and unwilling to distinguish itself from the herd.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This Blu-ray is distributed by Fox. It comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and also contains a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. Both discs are packed in a standard keepcase. Fox has labeled this as being a Region A release.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

This looks like every other modern action picture – cyan filters, lens flares – but, it does look pretty good as far as the video presentation is concerned. 'Red Dawn's 1080p presentation is glossy and slick. In other words, a complete one-eighty from the gritty Blu-ray transfer of the original.

Clarity is top-notch. The image on screen is pristinely presented with refined edges, well-delineated shadows, and great contrast. Skin and clothing textures reveal a wealth of fine detail. Hemsworth's action hero stubble is nicely rendered. The forest that the kids hide out in is full of lush foliage that is always clear and defined.

Around the hour mark I found myself less than impressed with some flat black areas that appeared in a conversation between Jed and Matt (Josh Peck). It was the only instance in the film where I felt let down by the visual presentation. The rest of it looks like a recently filmed movie should look in HD.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

However mediocre the movie is it doesn't mean that the technical presentations have to be crappy too. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for 'Red Dawn' is an explosion-filled 90 minutes of mayhem. The action sound effects, however, don't feel overbearing or mixed too loud. From the invasion to the end of the movie 'Red Dawn' delivers a superb audio experience.

However mediocre the movie is it doesn't mean that the technical presentations have to be crappy too. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for 'Red Dawn' is an explosion-filled 90 minutes of mayhem. The action sound effects, however, don't feel overbearing or mixed too loud. From the invasion to the end of the movie 'Red Dawn' delivers a superb audio experience.

The low-end support here is pretty phenomenal. The rumbling explosions rival any big-budget action movie you've seen on Blu-ray recently. At the beginning, when a plane explodes during the invasion and crashes into a house, the roar is pleasantly deafening. This is a great sounding mix all around.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

A brand new movie, you'd think they would include at least a few throwaway featurettes. Nope. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.

Final Thoughts

This remake forgot what made the first so memorable. Had the first movie simply been another testosterone-fueled action movie I don't think it would've turned into such a cult classic. There's a disquieting nervousness bubbling up in the original. This one is all about the guns and how fun it is to be a kid with a gun with a reason to use it excessively. That said, we have some stellar audio and video included on this Blu-ray, but zero special features. Let's chalk this up as a bad flick, good disc scenario

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


  • English, French, and Spanish


  • None

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.