Digital Polyphony

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Remakes Abound

Posted on March 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Remakes Abound:

Upcoming Remakes I May or May Not Be On Board With

There's a plethora of things getting remade, rebooted and "reimagined" in Hollywood these days. I could spend hours listing them off, from Conan to True Grit to The Fly to The Omen to Arthur to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to 3:10 to Yuma to 21 Jumpstreet to The Departed to The Ring, Amittyvilla Horror, Nightmare on Elm Street, Karate Kids, Body Snatchers, King Kongs and the list goes on. If you've read any of my past blogs, you know it's not that Hollywood is "out of ideas" as much as it is they want to re-sell property to us - things that are familiar and, therefore, easy to market with an installed base to tap into. Like if you bought a car back in the 80s, sold it in the 90s, then re-bought one just like it last month with a new paint-job for an even higher price because you remembered really loving it.

But not all cars are bad. Maybe that car was a corvette, and you wanted that awesome old corvette back because how else are you going to compensate for a small penis? In other words, just because something is being "redone" doesn't mean it's automatically something that should be ignored. Here's a list of some upcoming remakes. Some I'm all for, others I scratch my head at, all I'll give reasons for.


Why I'm Not OK With It: It's simply too much. There's a lot going on in Akira. In fact, there's so much going on that the initial adaptation from the Manga still had to nix quite a bit of it. I would love a big, epic sprawling piece of cyberpunk, but going to Akira just doesn't seem logical. In a way, I see it as taking something great, taping it on VHS, then taking that VHS again and taping it again. Quality is going to be lost. The complexities of the Manga were streamlined for the animated film already. It's story is still in tact. However, if you take that, streamline it again and reconfigure it for a different audience, what is going to be happen? Exactly. You know they aren't looking at the Manga here as a "reinterpretation." That would just be too much darn work.

Plus, you have the cultural aspect of it. You see, Akira was written as a reflection of Japanese culture and life. Where it had been, where it was at the present and where it might ultimately turn into. While I'm sure themes such as alienation and youth would still be present, the more socially thoughtful themes related to Japan, such as government and technology, societal norms and the loss of morality in a culture that insisted on morals and certain ways of life, would just be a footnote - turning into nothing more than just background fodder in lieu of superhuman powers and special effects. In other words, Akira just wouldn't be Akira anymore. And if you aren't going to end with the thing you started with, then you might as well do something else and not name it as such.

As much as I love ambition in filmmaking, and a live action Akira would certainly be that, I don't think it should come at the cost of altering the source material from which it's based to a degree of being unrecognizable.



Why I'm OK With It:  Robocop has always been one of those films that seems as though it could have done more, but was limited by the technology of its time. It's arguably one of the defining films of the 1980s and exuded the style and excess that decade is known for. But let's paint a picture: let's think about "restraint." Let's talk about what could be. The original films's story was nothing to write home about. It was straightforward and was only a vehicle used to display action. Most likely little is going to change, but it's easy to go back and watch it and imagine a different take on those scenes. Crazy characters, mugging for the camera and so forth could have easily been handled in a straighter fashion. Then think about the action: it too was pretty straightforward. Nothing too grandiose, just Robocop arriving, shooting, walking slowly, then walking some more. The idea of him running was never apparent, and a remake might be able to make a full on bad-ass Robocop as a result. Then you have director Jose Padilha who made one of the best action movies you probably haven't, Elite Squad. Why am I Ok with this one? Because it's so easy to see a different vision of it. Sure, that Verhoven dark satire might be gone, but it was the only thing that made the original film in the first place. Taking it on as a straight-up action science fiction flick with a darker tone might be the right prescription.


One thing, though, don't mess with Robocop's design too much. If you want to slim him down, make him faster and so on, that's fine, but two bits of him can't be altered: the helmet and the gun. For that matter, the gun coming out of his leg and he spins it in his fingers. Do that, and whatever other design changes I'm probably cool with.

Evil Dead


Why I'm Not OK With It: There are certain attributes to a film franchise that, should they be removed in a remake, make the unidentifiable. Evil Dead isn't a remake, but a complete reboot. A new take. A new style. Will be as humorous? Will it have that dark quality of crazy gore and over-the-top / off the way approach or will it try to make it darker, grittier, and so on? I think my point is more in this: there was a movie called Drag Me to Hell a few years back. It was the most Evil Dead film I've seen yet wasn't an Evil Dead film at all. It got the tone, style and humor just right and was overall pretty good. So why call this new film Evil Dead at all if you're going to be altering so much of it? Because it's set in the wood and there's a cabin? There's a character named Ash (now a woman?) I just don't see the point in doing this other than marketing the hell because the original films had things that defined what Evil Dead is…and if you change that then you longer have Evil Dead.

Total Recall


Why I'm OK With It: The original Total Recall is one of my favorite flicks of the 1980s. It's imaginative, adventurous, certainly a bit cheesy and silly but overall an extremely unique and fun film. The remake is forgetting all that, heading back to the source material by Philip K. Dick, one of my favorite authors, and taking a darker sci-fi approach that's less action and more thriller. Now, don't get me wrong I'm not overly excited for the film. The writers and director don't really get my blood pumping like the idea of the Coen Brothers going back to the source material for True Grit (these people are certainly NOT the Coens), but this is a list of remakes I'm OK with even if it doesn't automatically mean they're going to be great films. Total Recall (both the original and probably the remake) aren't going to be great films no matter how you cut it, but I'm interested in a different take, for sure.

A Star is Born


Why I…don't really care: Maybe the fact I don't care at all makes me not be ok with it. It's been remade a few times now, and another one probably isn't going to matter. Sure, it's interesting that Clint Eastwood is doing it, but does that even matter? The story is the same, there's not enough for there to be a new "take" on this material unless Eastwood wants to go darker with it. I just…don't care.



Why I'm OK With It: The point of remaking or rebooting something should be because the original failed in its attempt completely or there's something new and fresh that could be done to it. Dredd absolutely fits the bill. Taking a stronger stance with the comics, this one seems to be on the right track. Judge Dredd is actually a very, very popular comic and the original Stallone picture probably hit it back to the dark ages that the Batman franchise had to deal with after Batman and Robin. It's time to do it right, and screenwriter Alex Garland (Sunshine, Never Let Me Go, 28 Days Later, The Beach) might be able to approach the dark angles the franchise needs.

Red Dawn


Why I'm Not OK With It: Red Dawn was a product of its time if there ever was one. It's a film that was a response to the Cold War. The idea alone is absurd to the point where the thought of it being "updated" into today's socioeconomic canon would be ludicrous.


Red Dawn is one of those movies we enjoy not because it was good, but because it was bad. It was a capable film, but its reputation often exceeds what it actually is. To me, Red Dawn is a look into the minds of people from its era, the same way 2001 A Space Odyssey's look at the idea of hope and future of people of its era, or Easy Rider a look into the counter culture idea of freedom of its people. Though that is a difference than be saying "the idea doesn't work to be remade" in this case, it's that the "idea doesn't work today to be remade." Its time came and went.

Logan's Run


Why I'm OK With It:  Have you seen Logan's Run lately? Some movies on this list have aged fairly well, such as Total Recall, but some have not. This would be that one. Logan's Run was an ambitious film, but I always felt it was limited on what it could do and where it might have gone with its script. It's a pretty standard 1970s science fiction flick (which is always why I'm ok with another 70s sci-fi flick, Westworld, being remade as well). Logan's Run is a thoughtful idea that wasn't really given the thoughtful treatment. Hell, even by 1976 standards it felt pretty dated and old-fashioned, especially seeing as there was already other thing that surpassed it in its own era (notably Battlestar Galactica and, the following year, Star Wars). The action never flowed well, it was confusing despite the interesting premise and Michael York feels out of place or, more specifically, a bit uninteresting as a lead.

Short Circuit


Why I'm Not OK With It: Let me make this one easy. The director of this remake's past films have been Hop, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield A Tale of Two Kitties. That really tells enough as is, but it's also the same reason why Red Dawn doesn't quite feel right: Short Circuit came out at a time when the country was fascinated with everything about robots. Johnny 5 became an iconic character as a result. It's a product of its time if there ever was one and I don't see the point of remaking it, but to think it's going to be some cheesy, poorly-written and unfunny kids movie makes it even worse. Short Circuit was a kids movie, but it didn't have a ton of fart jokes and enough adult jokes to make it enjoyable for everyone.

Now I don't care all that much about Short Circuit. It's not like I'm a fan. I could take or leave it. But wasting time and money to remake it just does not compute. (see what I did there...because...Johnny 5...compute...nevermind)

The Thin Man

Why I'm OK With It:  I loved The Thin Man films. They are fun, humorous and wonderful little farces. The idea is easy, almost obviously easy, to update to modern times (socialite drunkards solve crimes, simple enough). William Powell and Myrna Loy had amazing chemistry, so a lot is going to be dependent on who they cast opposite Johnny Depp. But, as far as remakes and idea go, this is one that I'd be perfectly fine having someone take a stab at. My only issue is the attached director.




Why I'm Not OK With It:  Though it depends on the "take" I suppose, the fact is big giant monster movies just really have never worked well. The original Godzilla movies, or any of those giant monster movies from Japan, were cheesy novelties and not much else. The original Godzilla film came out at a time that reflected its own culture and perspectives. What is a giant, US-bred Godzilla movie going to do? Well, we've kind of already seen that. I'm also not as big on director Gareth Edwards as others.


I suppose it comes down to this: what we're expecting is about what we'll get. Giant monster. A city. Destruction. Credits. There's nothing new to the formula because there can't be something new. It's too rooted in its own identity and its identity just isn't something that gets me excited.

Escape From New York

Why I'm OK With It: That's right, I'm Ok with this. The reason is because of its concept. The original Escape from New York had an idea going for it…and not much else. Sure, you had Kurt Russel (and Borgnine), but I'm willing to let it go for a different take on this really awesome idea. Now there's a good chance this picture is currently in development hell (a term used for those movies that are announced but can never seem to get going) so everything may change, but I feel like this is a movie that could be really awesome with a  good budget behind it. John Carpenter made a pretty great vision with two nickels and a toothpick.


Point Break

Why I'm Not OK With It: Has it really aged all that much to a point where it needs to be remade? It's not a bad film, but what made Point Break "Point Break" was the sum of its parts, not the concept of it. The character of Bodi, Keanu Reeve's acting, the cheesy dialogue and the presence of Gary Busey. The scenes of sky diving that were pretty pointless, or slow-motion surfing. As a whole film, it's pretty bad, but these little individual parts are why people like it. Like Total Recall, though, you do have Kurt Wimmer on the screenplay, so maybe he'll do something unique, but I just don't see it happening or succeeding. Point Break is one of the best guilty-pleasure movies ever made.


The Crow

Why I'm OK With It: Like Dredd and Total Recall, The Crow isn't so much a remake as much as it is going back to the source material for a reinterpretation. Don't get me wrong, it's probably the same to those pulling strings (ooh, people recognize that name it's going to be easy to market) but there's enough in the original material to really do something different with. Now I loved the Crow, more specifically I loved the visuals and the directing by Alex Proyas. I also loved Brandon Lee's performance, he was certainly dedicated to the role. But I'm not going to be a voice in the chorus of fanboys that always stomp and complain on this. It's a property that's ripe to be remade. The direct to video sequels haven't done squat and it has been a number of years since even those existed. So let's see what happens here.


The Monster Squad

Why I Would Be OK With It But Ultimately Am Not OK With It: On a conceptual level, I'm fine with The Monster Squad being remade. To see alll those classic Universal horror monsters again would be great. Plus, let's face it, The Monster Squad never realluy got the due it probably deserved. It's a classic, but not in the broad appeal of something like The Goonies. Those that saw it, liked it. Those that didn't, probably never heard of it.

The problem, though, is I don't want THIS remake. The remake that's being planned with director Mike Mitchell (Deuce Bigalow, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3) and writer Brad Copeland (Yogi Bear, Wild Hogs). So...yeah...

It's this type of situation that is incredibly frustrating. I'd be in support of it being remade, but they're just dropping the ball with that team.


Why I'm Not OK With It: Because it's been tried and tried again to salvage this franchise and it has yet to remotely succeed. It's simply not the time to try and reboot it. After the television series, everything Highlander has been awful. Hell, even before the television series because every single other Highlander film has been awful. I don't mean "oh, the fanboys don't like it" awful, but it's actually still ok. I mean "holy shit somebody saw this movie and Ok'd it? What's with the directing, why is the acting so bad, what the hell is going on?" kind of movie. As in, really bad movie and it doesn't even achieve "It's so bad it's good" status. They're awful.

Let the franchise go away for a good ten years then come back to it, we don't need this right now. In time, I think it'd be great to give this another go with the right people. But let's wait a bit.


Why I'm OK With It: Because I'm intrigued. Spike Lee directing. Josh Brolin attached to star. I know with Lee it will be visually creative, and with Brolin I know the character will probably be done just right. The original by Chan-Wook Park is an amazing film, but I'd be interested in seeing a different version of it as well. It really just comes down to curiosity on my part.

I have a copy of this script. At least a draft of it. Still haven't got around to checking it out.

American Psycho

Why I'm Not OK With It: One thing many of the remakes I'm not Ok with have in common is that the original films had a certain uniqueness to them: an identifying trait or something truly iconic that can't be redone. In American Psycho's wheelhouse, it comes in a few forms. 1) Christian Bale's performance. Unless you're going to get Bale again, and you know they won't because now that the name is popular they'll go with a "popular" young actor to sell the thing, then there's no way to really get that character again. It's considered one of the best on screen performances ever, and that's a lot to live up to. 2) The satire. Will the fact this is a dark satire be lost on the filmmakers and writers? Will it even be set in the 80s? My guess is no.

You can make another movie about a young hot shot who goes around and kills (or fantasizes about killing) any day. Go for it. But you can't call it American Psycho.

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