Friday, May 13, 2011

Film Yap: Please Don't Remake These

Last week the remake of Arthur came out in theatres. The original is a film that is on my top ten favorite films of all time. I’ve already had some of my favorite films be remade to ill effect (“The Pink Panther” and “Distrubia”). With the new “Arthur” it was obviously a pale imitation of what made the original so great, but the casting of Russell Brand and Helen Mirren made it watchable.

It did make me think though. What film would make me really angry that they remake? I answered this and polled a few other people to figure which ones would really affect us.

David Bax – “Battleship Pretension” podcast

I don't really get mad about remakes. I mean, I'm upset that studios would rather fund a half-assed production of something with a recognizable name than an original idea but remakes don't offend me personally. Like all other films, most of them are terrible and some of them are good.

Keith Jackson – “And the Nominees Are” podcast

For me, Jurassic Park stands as one of the most original ideas masterfully crafted into an extremely thrilling and compelling film. While the sequels tried to capture the same level of awe, nothing can compare to the first time Dr. Grant and the gang come across the Brontosaurus grazing on the treetops, or, of course, the tense moments outside the Tyrannosaurus cage. I can’t see how these moments can be made any better, so any reboot would instantly fall short. There’s a number of ways I could see Hollywood approaching the idea of re-imagining Michael Crichton’s source material, but I think Spielberg got it right the first time.

Austin Lugar – “The Film Yap”

There is one film that I have seen more than any other and that is Airplane! It’s a movie that has inspired so much of how I view comedy. It’s such an odd movie because it is wall to wall with bizarre jokes and tangents with characters that are lovably inconsistent to reality. The whole thing is either masterful or the best accident of all time. Having anyone try to recreate that humor seems impossible. I don’t even know why it would be remade because people are now more familiar with Airplane! than Airport. So I don’t think it’ll ever happen, but if it does I would be beyond flabbergasted.

Richard Propes – “The Independent Critic”

Easy...If they did a version of "City Lights" with sound...

Nick Rogers – “The Film Yap”

"Back to the Future." Short of improvements in special effects — which, for something made in 1985, still look damn good — there is nothing to be made better about that film by doing it again. (Say what you want about the sequels, which I, for the record, happen to like, although not as much as the original.) A smart, thrilling plot? Already there. Bizarre in-jokes about the bad luck of the McFly family? Already there. Relatively subversive commentary about the political parallels between the 1950s and the 1980s? Already there. Plus, you've got a performance of true icon status from Christopher Lloyd and that general sense of edge and danger housed within so many great PG-rated adventures of the 1980s; along that dangerous line, "Gremlins" is another one that I would hate to see remade but which seems ripe for such treatment. I've long thought "Future" untouchable, but Universal has had such a bad run of big-budget bombs lately that it wouldn't surprise me if they had the gall to go ahead with a remake in the next 10-15 years. And hey, Libya's in the news again.

Joe Shearer – “The Film Yap”

I'm not much of a remake snob, mostly because there isn’t that many properties I hold so sacred that I would never want to see them remade. People whine and complain about how "there aren't any more new ideas in Hollywood," and most of the people I hear saying that won't go see a movie if it doesn't star one of about 10 different actors or deviates from the Hollywood formula. The same people whining about remakes are the same ones for the most part who I heard calling "The Wedding Date" a better movie than "Sideways," and generally don't recognize that people like Kate Hudson have been essentially remaking the exact same movie for the past 10 years, and of those 10, 9 are movies sprung from ideas that the screenwriters/studio execs came up with while watching some other movie anyway (hell, the entire process of pitching and selling a movie is using the "It's (Movie A) meets (Movie B)!").

Also, one thought: no one gripes and complains when theaters put on a production of "The Tempest" or "Our Town" or "Hamlet" or whatever, especially when a Hollywood type star fills one of the lead roles in one of those plays. The play is different because a different actor brings something new to the role. Why aren't movies the same?

Having said that, I too get tired of this seemingly endless barrage of remakes, but then I can also say that at least they're being honest about ripping off a movie rather than changing a few names, a couple of superficial situations, and calling it an original piece of art. How many Rocky/Die Hard ripoffs have we seen over the past 30 years?

But anyway, there are some movies I think are kind of sacred cows. Casablanca is the one that most readily comes to mind, and I think The Wizard of Oz is close, though in the hands of the right director (Guillermo del Toro) it would be interesting to see.

For me being a child of the 80s, there are some 80s movies I never want to see remade. "E.T.," "The Terminator," "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are all movies I wouldn't want to see touched. "Stand By Me" is another one that seems ripe for a remake that I'd hate to see just because the first one was so great and had so much synergy to it. I'm close on "Robocop," because it's such a great movie, but I was intrigued with Darren Aronofsky being the one to remake it. Now that he's not, I'm not quite so sure.

But my thoughts are when movies have been sequeled and prequeled to death, remakes are typically just part of the deal. It's fun, as with "Star Trek," which 10 years ago would have headed this list, to see an alternate reality version of things. I don't dislike remakes in a general sense, I dislike bad remakes, which unfortunately encompass most of them. I think if we love a certain movie that much, we should be open to see other interpretations of it for the most part, though.

The last thing I always say about remakes is that, bad or not, one good thing it does almost invariably is lead to a new DVD/blu ray version of the original, which I can then show my kids and my kids' friends (when appropriate, anyway) as the definitive version.

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