Tuesday, December 6, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: Movies That Didn't Need To Be (re)Made

I am thoroughly dismayed by the number of films being produced lately that are nothing more than remakes or reboots of other, older (and sometimes not all that much older) movies. It smacks of a distinct lack of creativity or vision, and makes clear that Hollywood is simply afraid to take chances on something that might stray even a little from the well-worn rut of popular success. Here are 10 examples of films (actually, 9 films and a TV show) that illustrate this:

1.  Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The original film, a Scandinavian production released just 2 years ago (and released in the U.S. just last year), was an excellent adaptation of the gritty, gripping book by Stieg Larsson. It was wildly successful in Europe and critically acclaimed around the world, and is expected to see a couple of Oscar nominations this year. What possible reason did Hollywood have for stepping all over this work by putting out an American version? Is it that big a deal to read subtitles?

2.  Footloose. The original 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon was iconic because it dealt with one of the more touchy social issues of the time -- the tension between popular (rock) music and mainstream conservative Christian values. Although this topic is still timely in certain areas of the country, it is not at all as compelling as it was and most definitely not worthy of simply rehashing a melodramic teen drama of nearly 30 years ago.

3.  The Grinch. I have a particular distaste for live-action versions of perfectly charming animated films, especially if the original version continues to appeal to audiences. This movie is the prime exemplar of this most annoying categoriy of film remakes.

4.  Arthur. Even for those of us who remember when it came out, the original was just not that good. Who in their right mind thought said, "Dude! We should totally redo this movie! People will LOVE it!" Whoever you are, can I have some of what you took before making that statement?  Clearly, it's good stuff.

5.  Conan the Barbarian. The original 1982 production had better names than the remake, better acting (which is hard to believe, if you've watched it) and a lack of plot that no amount of 3D work will ever atone for.

6.  Psycho. Another classic film whose remake served no purpose whatsoever. It didn't advance the idea of the original. It didn't improve on the original. It was a near exact copy of the original. I'll give credit for the acting where it was due, but as a project, it's hard to see what the point was.

7.  Fame. Roger Ebert summed it up very well, so I'll quote him. "Why bother to remake 'Fame' if you don't have clue about why the 1980 movie was special? Why take a touching experience and make it into a shallow exercise? Why begin with a R-rated look at plausible kids with real problems and tame it into a PG-rated after-school special?"  Especially if you're going to do it with actors that looked like they were graduating college, not entering the 9th grade.

8.  Hawaii Five-0. This is the odd one out in this list because it's not a film. This show bugs me for two reasons. First, there's the name. If you're going to reboot a story, people, use the same name! It's Hawaii Five-O (that's right, the letter O). Second, if you're going to reboot a story, show some respect to the more than just the theme song and the phrase “Book him, Danno”. Most people don't remember the original show well, and this probably accounts for the new show's positive public opinion, even though it plays like a standard modern action show and nothing like the complex crime drama that ran for an impressive 12 seasons.

9.  The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan might have taken an opportunity to revitalize his reputation for making a quality film. Instead, he made this. With acting that ranged in quality from mediocre to ridiculous and a painful ignorance of the subtlety of the original series, anyone who enjoyed the original animated series must have wanted to cry at the seeming active attempt to find new and creative ways to irk them. I certainly did.

10. The Departed. Martin Scorsese said that he didn't think this film was a remake. Are you kidding me? The script and most of the details of the film came straight from the Hong Kong movie Internal Affairs! And it may have won an Oscar, but Departed is not as good. Martin Scorsese, I shake my finger at you.

For next week, I'll see if I can find 10 remakes that were actually worth their weight in celluloid.


Mrs. Chili said...

I just finished re-reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with the intention of watching the film. I bought the DVD of the Swedish version the other day. There is nothing objectionable about reading subtitles, but that's just me.

Wayfarer said...

I had some issues with the translation work in the book, but both were excellent.