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The Trouble with Remakes

I blogged last week about why I rarely go out to the movies these days. Here is a big reason that I forgot to list: the windfall of remakes.

I can understand remaking a foreign language film into an American film (like Abre Los Ojos as Vanilla Sky). However, remaking an older American movie that is easy to find on TV or on DVD doesn't draw me to the box office.

The excuse of "modernizing" movies makes me wonder, do we really need a modernized version of a timeless film? Great films last over the years because they have timeless themes. Films like Psycho and The Wizard of Oz still hold up in their original form while their remakes are barely remembered.

When I hear the term, "modern," I associate it with being in the now. The problem is, what a lot of people perceive as "the now" is always changing. Committing something to film that is cool, hip or ironic for the time being dooms its shelf life. What's that classic line from Perfect? John Travolta says something to effect of "Health clubs - they're the singles bars of the Eighties!"

Great films last regardless of their special effects or fashions. Great films last because they engage the viewer in a deep and timeless way. You can talk about how cool the CGI effects are in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the reason why you keep watching it is because it is a timeless story of good vs. evil.

I keep hearing the excuse that teenagers/young adults are too busy with video games. Well, video game systems have been household items since the 1980s and they have held the attention of teenagers/young adults ever since. Nintendo was a household item when Tim Burton's Batman came out in 1989 and lots of younger people came out in droves to see that movie.

All I can say is this Hollywood, stop giving us lame rehashes of something that still holds up. I don't want excuses for crappy remakes. If you do remake something, add something fresh that's relevant in the long term. After seeing the trailer for this upcoming remake, you can guarantee that I'll see it in a theater in December. Why? Because I'm compelled to see it, not for the actors or the CGI, but for the engaging characters and story.


Kev said…
One theory I keep hearing as to why there are so many remakes is this: the studios, because of the high budgets under which movies are made these days, are either unwilling or unable to take a chance on "unproven" scripts. I've also heard rumblings of a dearth of quality screenwriters lately, though, again, it's possible that their ideas never get past the legion of corporate "suits" who are involved in the process. Even many of the "indie" outfits are owned or heavily bankrolled by the major studios now, so that avenue is generally closed as well.

I meant to chime in last week about the whole home-vs.-theatre experience, but I got swamped. I'll still go see the big blockbusters on the big screen (my home setup is nothing special at all at the moment) and generally don't encounter too many of the problems that were cited (though I could do without the loud commmercials, that's for sure). Seeing a Star Wars movie in a big setting like that could never be recreated at home, and now that an 18-screen AMC is being built within almost walking distance of my house, I'm sure I won't be forgoing that experience anytime soon.

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