Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: The Trailers for Red Dawn and Jack Reacher Make Me Want to Punch America in the Nuts

Two trailers "dropped" -- as we say -- recently. Both were exasperating, but for different reasons.

Before we begin, let me say I'm not one of these guys who rends his garment every time another remake comes along. I'd have run out of shirts in 1998. But we all have movies that - dumb as they may be - hold special meaning for each of us. When these are remade/rebooted/reimagined, it feels more...personal.

And on a similar note, I rarely take movies to task for playing fast and loose with the source material. I know some people were up in arms that the house-elf rebellion wasn't portrayed in the Harry Potter movies, or whatever. Sometimes, however, something as straightforward as the casting of the primary character goes horribly awry.

Anyway, here's the trailer for the Red Dawn remake:

This will be meaningless to 99 percent of humanity, but for a specific subset of the population -- specifically American males who grew up in largely rural areas and were between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1984 -- the original Red Dawn was a transformative experience. Long hours were spent discussing options should the not-altogether unthinkable prospect of Communist invasion occur. Unfortunately, absent strategically placed mountain ranges or convenience stores well-stocked with bows and arrows, I think the best we came up with was meek submission followed by possible infiltration from within. And that resolve would probably melt away once we were infiltrated by sexy Russian ladies.

The premise of the remake involves a "coalition" of invading countries, in which North Korea figures prominently because -- get this -- they have a satellite that creates an EMP that disables most of the Pacific seaboard. You might think the concept of North Korea possessing functional space technology is absurd, and you'd be right. The original enemy in the movie was China, but a financially unstable MGM decided they'd rather not jeopardize the lucrative Chinese movie market (at least a third of which doesn't actively pirate our shit), so references to the PRC were digitally altered to show North Korea instead. Quite the bold move.

Come on, people; the Chinese don't have the force projection to seriously threaten North America. Besides that, all they'd have to do to bring our country to its knees is call in all of our debt they own.

Next up, the Jack Reacher trailer:

Cue Neil deGrasse Tyson picture.

Sorry, does Tom Cruise really look badass in this? Really? Even abandoning everything we know about the man -- the Scientology, the couch jumping, the hurtful confrontations with Matt Lauer -- is anybody really intimidated by the guy?

It's an important question, because the subject of Lee Child's 16 novels is unswervingly described as a 6' 5", 250 lb monster, with "hands like catcher's mitts." His very size often causes potential opponents to rethink their intentions or alter their plans accordingly, a fact repeated in every book (or the five I've read, anyway). On the best day of his life (sneaking Nicole's stilettos out for a test run), Cruise is 5' 8". This is fine for a wily IMF agent, but hardly adequate for portraying a guy capable of crushing a man's skull with his bare hands.

But let's ignore that for the time being. Was there ever a moment in that trailer when Cruise actually made you believe he was capable of the sort of mayhem a former Army MP could deliver? Jesus, even his voice ("You think I'm a hero?") is barely pitched about an adolescent squeak.

Jack Reacher is a one-man harbinger of doom; an elite sniper with incredible physical strength, lethal hand-to-hand skills and formidable investigative powers. At the end of the Jack Reacher trailer, I wasn't so much wondering why they didn't go with someone more size-appropriate, like Hugh Jackman, or Joe Manganiello, or -- hell -- Adam Baldwin, but actually grateful we didn't end up with Macaulay Culkin.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar