Action Movie Throw Down

A beloved franchise goes up against the remake of a ‘80s classic. Which comes out on top?

Skyfall Falls Flat

Skyfall has all the hallmarks of a James Bond film: insane stunts, impossible missions, familiar characters, and an epic theme song. But the movie tries to become too self aware and muddles past and future.

The third installment staring a boring and uncharming Daniel Craig as James Bond has more faults more than just the main character casting. Like most Bond movies, there are plot holes and story lines that don’t quite add up. But in this installment, there are many moments where the audience puzzles at the actions of the characters.  It seems no one in the movie knows the simple answers. Plus, it seems they also like to shoot at things they can’t see. Everyone just starts shooting blindly.

Skyfall delights fans by brining in Q and Moneypenny. But the time spent with these characters is minimal.  The movie spends too much time with Bond and his John Malkovich knock-off villain. The sibling rivalry/ homoerotic scenes are painful to watch.

The movie is at its best when Bond is chasing or being chased. As always, the action is suspenseful with mind boggling stunts. But the action is slowed with tepid romances and enemy soliloquy. The best performances come from Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw as Q.

The biggest issue isn’t with the cast or the story line; it is the overt self awareness that drags it down. The movie constantly states in its characters’ dialogue how old is not good, and we cannot move forward while being stuck in the old. An occasional line mentions the merits of the old, but with so much time spent on bashing the past, the movie takes a lot from the old franchise. If old is so bad why is Q finally introduced? Why borrow plots from two other Bond movies? It’s this contradiction that confuses me the most, and the preachiness of “out with the old” is overdone.

Faught with flaws, Skyfall pales in comparison with an underdog, the Red Dawn remake.

Red Dawn Rising

I didn’t have big expectations for the remake of the 1980’s communist ass kicking movie, but was pleasantly surprised by the action flick. It stars a pre-Avengers Chris Hemsworth and a pre-Hunger Games Josh Hutcherson. This Hemsworth vehicle is probably the best movie he has done to date.

For those of you who haven’t seen the original, a foreign government takes over pockets of the United States leaving a group of teens to act as a resistance. Hemsworth does a magnificent job as the Marine leading the gang of rag tag high school kids in a rebellion in Spokane, Washington. Hutcherson is once again fabulous as a scared kid who turns into a warrior. Only Josh Peck’s performance leaves something to be desired. I image Liam Hemsworth playing the role; the chemistry between the two would be awesome.

The great thing about Red Dawn is that it doesn’t take long to get to the action started and it very rarely stops. There is small lag in the middle for character development but you are moved by these kids’s journey into adulthood. I shed a tear on several occasions including the shocking ending. It is amazing to see what theses teens accomplish against the North Koreans.

The movie has had difficulty after difficulty. First, was getting it into the theaters, and the second was recasting the villains. Originally it was Chinese that overtook the United States, but with CG and voice over work, the North Koreans are now behind this siege. In today’s political climate it is a wonder that North Korea was not the original choice. But it seems they wanted to make sure the “red” of Red Dawn apparent.

A Red Dawn fun fact: the original staring Patrick Swayze and Lea Thompson was the first movie to be rated PG-13. The 2012 version makes efforts to keep this rating.

Full of thrills, patriotism, and spirit, Red Dawn excels at thrills while Skyfall entertains momentarily. Maybe 007 should stick to some of its old tricks.

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