I’m not sure why, but I figured I’d start this new blog with a rant. I’m centralizing my author page and moving away from my old one, instead of having it focused entirely on my book “A Cold Black Wave” as I’m technically working on my 3rd book. So, anyway, my wife and I watched the above mentioned movie the other night and I was appalled by it on a number of levels (she enjoyed it, but has never seen Red Dawn). Apparently, this is a YA book series and I’m being heretical by judging a book by its film right now but I don’t care. As an admitted fan of the original Red Dawn, I loathe “Tomorrow, when the war began”. Let me count the ways.
First of all, this is an outright rip-off of Red Dawn. Can I take a semi-cult status film from the 80’s and write a series about it and call it something else? I’m thinking 1987’s “The Gate” would be perfect. I’ll call it “Hellhole” and string out the exploits of the film over a 7 book series. I don’t even need to read “TWTWB” to understand this is exactly what author John Marsden has done. I would give this movie a break if there were anything original added to the Red Dawn premise, but not only is there none, but what does exist was poorly copied from Red Dawn. I can safely say that there is not one ounce of originality in this film. Not…one.
The characters, acting, action, and plot are all far worse than Red Dawn. And for those who hated Red Dawn, this is saying a lot. But you know what? For those who hate Red Dawn, they may love TWTWB with its greater focus on teenage love affairs. Red Dawn was terribly xenophobic, but it had good reason. It actually had a face and a name to the enemy, who was relevant to the times: dirty commies from Russia and their satellite nations. The new Red Dawn remake wanted to use China as the enemy, but chose the implausible North Korea instead, because the film distributors didn’t want to offend the Chinese. So they chose a nation as scary and intimidating as a South Park movie. In TWTWB, the enemy doesn’t matter. It could be anyone. It could be the US. It could be aliens that look like humans. I suppose anything is better than actually using North Korea. Seriously? Kim Jung Il? That Korea?
As implausible as the setup was in the original film, there was a setup for the invasion and a real enemy. In TWTWB, the enemy is a nameless Asian nation who somehow managed to invade Australia…something the Japanese couldn’t accomplish during WWII with their lightening-fast Pacific campaign. These sneaky bastards have, however, snuck an entire division onto freighter ships and unloaded them at the docks. Surprise, bitches, you just been invaded! The Russians did a dastardly similar tactic like that in Red Dawn. You don’t say!
What’s worse is that TWTWB attempts to keep the YA love interests alive throughout the story, as if this is just as important as their fight to survive. No worries, chill out in a diesel rig you just hijacked from the enemy and talk about your love interests. I’m sure the enemy is not looking for you at all, especially since they’ve all been alerted to your theft just moments ago. Other oddities: nearly everyone has somehow been captured and put into camps. In Red Dawn, the invaders (and writer) understand this is not only impossible to do but makes no sense. A girl who never wielded a gun before, hip-fires an AK-47 on full-auto and manages to kill four baddies before they can take cover. Oh, also, the baddies are an early version of Star Wars’ Storm Troopers, about as accurate as a Somali high on khat. Until the end of the movie, of course, which supposed to set up a cliff hangar because someone actually gets injured by a bullet. Gads! I’m sure love will heal her.
I have nothing against John Marsden for writing this series. God bless him, and I hope he is enjoying his success. Maybe I’m just getting older. I understand the tilt towards a YA audience, but the sheer unoriginality is what boggles my mind…and the fact there is large audience waiting for such unoriginality with open arms. Maybe what Ellie alludes to in the movie is correct when she says, “The books are always better”. Here’s hoping, but I will continue my heresy and say I won’t be reading those books anytime soon. Anyone want to open my closed mind on this one?