May 05, 2009


I like remakes. I like reboots. I like it when they do "Hamlet" again at the local rep house as much as I like new screen versions of it. I thought, for instance, that Michael Almereyda's Hamlet was brilliant and, in its way, as good as Branaugh's four-hour unexpurgated take.

No one cries foul when CU does their annual Shakespeare festival.

I liked Marcus Nispel's Texas Chainsaw Massacre though I liked the original better - and I liked Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead better than Romero's. I like both versions of The Manchurian Candidate - I like the first three versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Kurosawa's MacBeth? It's great. Batman Begins? Also great. And Dark Knight? Fuggehdabout it.

So on the eve of the new Star Trek redux/reboot - and having seen it on Saturday - I just want to say that as I'm sitting here writing the review that I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to be right here at this moment in history to see so many franchises that I love (Superman, Batman, Star Trek) get honorable reboots and here's to Rob Zombie's new Halloween sequel and the remake of Videodrome upcoming and all those flicks that deserve to be treated canonically: that is, with versions that better tap the well of this time.

Ideas about good prospects for remakes?

Hopes and fears about the new Trek?


Patrick said...

Hope: was that actually a hint at a good review of Star Trek? Because I'm expecting an overblown effects crap thing.

Otherwise, I must say I am totally cool with remakes and adaptions as long as the brain(s) behind the new one actually make something new. A shot-for-shot remake? Or a remake just because the old film made money? No, thanks. But trying to say different things, or say the same things differently – hell yeah. A work of art must be able to stand on its own, and if it can, have it be the six hundreth incarnation for all I care.

Si said...

Glad to hear that you sound positive about the new Trek, Walter. I'm set to see it on Thursday - I don't think I've had this much optimism about a summer film since, well, The Dark Knight!

Yet I feel that I should also point out that I was a fan of "Alias" - at least until the end of Series Three. The other two series are ones I can live without. Also, I've never watched "Lost", and was indifferent to both M-I III and Cloverfield.

Maybe it was the casting (Simon Pegg as Scotty? Couldn't help but crack a smile) and trailers that raised my optimism to what it was.

Bill C said...

As much as I like THE RING, I'd be a lot more optimistic about the VIDEODROME remake if it weren't being written by Ehren Krueger.

I do hope David Gordon Green actually makes SUSPIRIA.

I kinda resent this reboot culture, truth be told; there's something vaguely imperialistic about it, and it's making me feel malnourished for original product. Remember the good old days when we just ripped shit off?

slars said...

Looking forward to the Robocop by Darren Aronofsky.

Alex Jackson said...

Logged a review of Death Sentence for the annual very recently, and I was thinking of mentioning this in some kind of form though it wouldn't quite fit in; but I really liked the Last House on the Left remake. The revenge was so utterly brutal and the father was so ice cold and unconflicted about it that it gave me idea for yet another remake. How about making Dad a subsumed psychopath trying to channel his urges in socially acceptable ways? Like he could be a hunter and in the first scene he could shoot and graphically clean a deer. When his daughter is raped and killed, he finally feels the burden of living a civilized life lifted. He rapes and kills the girlfriend character in revenge for his daughter. And there, eye-for-an-eye justice is fruitfully challenged by taking it literally.

Those are my ideas for the next remake, killing a deer and a rape for a rape. One more version of Last House on the Left and we might have a perfect one.

Almost aprops of nothing, but MI III is underrated. It's my clear favorite of the trilogy. PSH is the shit in that movie. He's one of the greatest movie villains in recent years. Totally and completely unsympathetic. Just fantastic.

Dan said...

I have no problem with remakes, either. Well, mostly. The idea that someone, someday, will get around to redoing Alien and Back To The Future makes me ache.

I think it's only justifiable if something can be added to the material thanks to (a) advances in filming techniques, or (b) more perspective on the material. I'm sure Aronofsky will do something brilliant with RoboCop, for e.g.

Remakes are at their best when they redo bad or weak films with a great idea behind them, though. Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven, Carpenter's The Thing, etc.

Rick said...

Hopes and fears about the new Trek.

Ian Pugh said...

Personally, I'd sooner see Green remake Deep Red than Suspiria. I still maintain that it's the better Argento, and it seems more attuned to his character-driven aesthetic.

Despite what a future review may tell you, I really would like to see someone remake the old, "untouchable" Bond films, if only to provide a greater challenge to keep the character relevant. What I wouldn't give to see Daniel Craig take on a modern-day Goldfinger; and, even post-Soviet Union, From Russia with Love has plenty of themes that would translate well into today's climate.

Si said...

Rick, that was very funny! Thanks. Tomorrow night I'll know for sure whether these positive reviews make sense though.

Walter_Chaw said...

Rick said...

I would like to see a remake of Six Figures. I went off a *Canadian* recommendation from Travis on that one, and while the subtext and all of that was there, it was just so dirt cheap it took me a little out of it. If Six Figures wasn't aesthetically repulsive and had a stronger supporting cast, it would have been pretty damn solid.

Joan said...

Saw it tonight... had a blast. Definitely need to see it again.

It does go by very, very fast, and it's not perfect, but really, tremendous fun.

jer fairall said...

Usually *very* skeptical about reboots, myself, but Ian's mention of 007 makes me think that the elegant yet frequently clowny On Her Majesty's Secret Service could really benefit from an upgrade.

BLH said...

I'd like to see a remake of Fritz Lang's House by the River.

I'm sure the strong affection I hold for the film has a lot to do with the superior, unconstrained remake that plays in my head every time I watch it.

Si said...

I'm with Joan on Star Trek. Not perfect - the first half's undoubtedly better than the second - but what a ride. For the first time in a long while I'm actually looking forward to the next Trek film.

Excellent review as well, Walter. You said it best with the line... "It's a good war film, a good large-scale action film, a nice homage to the original series, and ambitious in its structure and execution."

What I liked as well is that all of the new actors managed to brilliantly capture the spirit of the original actors without directly imitating them. Only Karl Urban came close to crossing the line into imitation territory, so to speak...

KayKay said...

Slars & Dan, with much respect: No,no,no and NO to a Robocop re-boot by Darren Aronofsky. Haven't seen The Wrestler owing to the fact that I'm still washing the taste of The Fountain out of my mouth.
What's Aronofsky going to bring to Officer Murphy that Paul Verhoeven didn't? (Pet Peeve time: Verhoeven gets shunted back to Holland because of Hollow Man but fellow Euro Expat Roland Emmerich makes The Day After Tomorrow and is given more money to crap out 10,000BC onto the cinematic landscape?)
Robocop was a perfect nugget of '80s film-making, a savage satire of that period's crass materialism gore-spattered through with Paul Verhoeven's Euro-Centric eye for masterfully shot action scenes.
I vote it remains there.

Anonymous said...

Kinda funny.

As for Star Trek, i think Abrams and co. executed a pretty flawless reboot as far as these things go. (although there seemed to be an inordinate amount of choking in the fight scenes). I'm a little confused as to why videodrome *needs* one. I mean, I hope it's not simply because we don't use VCR's anymore... (DVDrome? HDrome? oh wait... BluDrome?)

maximilian said...

a remake of "The Killer", but this time as producer Tsui Hark intended, with two female leads.


Why not! I'd be keen to see the narcissistic blinded singer as a simpering male, and I'd go further along and make all the heavies and murdered partners and flip-flopping friends female as well. I reckon that there's some fun things one could do with gender politics and the like, but, hell, nattily attired and impeccably coiffed hitwoman in a game of cat and also cat with a hotheaded, rule flouting female cop (who may or may not be a lesbian; certainly infatuated with the hitwoman)?

Sign me up!

Whenever this topic comes up on forums and boards I can't help but bring up a proper sequel to "The Blair Witch Project". The ad campaign would go so far as to openly mock "Book of Shadows" by basically saying it doesn't exist; I'm thinking a *cough* in the ad campaign to connote just how wrongheaded that whole film was.

What I never understood is why, with the dumptruck full of money the original made, the producers/creators didn't go with the time tested technique of sequels by simply copying the original's formula and making it bigger. Unlike the awesome "Aliens", there wouldn't be multiple witches (though that's a way to do it) but instead more of the actual fucking witch we never saw in the original.

Crazy action/horror, ala Raimi's own remake of his own "Evil Dead". Explore what would happen if that grainy digital recording actually got out and was viewed by people in the real world - wouldn't curious people begin to flock to those woods? Wouldn't hunters of all sort (hillbillies to Most Dangerous Game running billionaires) want to try to take a crack at that witch?

Wouldn't more killings occur, thus (of course) further empowering the witch ?

Wouldn't the military/government have to get involved? And, of course, after the sick tourists and redneck/billionaire hunters and U.S. military got their asses collectively handed to them, wouldn't a long-living monk (and his current pupil), the same monk who was tasked with vanquishing the witch hundreds of years ago (shades of "The Exorcist"; but maybe not the monk who vanquished the witch, who, in retrospect, would've been killed, but rather his pupil at the time, who's now a master), be drawn to the major imbroglio brewing in them thar Virginny woods?

The third part of the trilogy would of course give us the witch's backstory (burned alive hundreds of years ago - she weighed the same as a duck and is made of wood), the backstory of just how these monks got into the global witch fighting business in the first place, and the thrilling conclusion (or is it?!?) of this century spanning brouhaha.

Or is it only me who would want to watch such a thing?

Dan said...

@KayKay. I share your reservations, but I just doubt that Aronofsky would ever get involved in something like a RoboCop remake without KNOWING he can bring a different take the same basic premise. I'm looking forward to it, anyway, even though I agree the Verhoeven original is near-perfect sci-fi satire.

Strange that nobody's mentioned The Karate Kid remake yet. Jaden Smith. Jackie Chan. Set in China. Er, with kung fu. What could go wrong? Hm.

Bill C said...

I will be rooting for the Cobra Kai.

Jared said...

This summer looks absolutely dreadful, we are just knee deep in rehashes and toy movies. JJ Abrams will continue to, for me, be the biggest hack working in film and television. The only parts that were even remotely good were Leonard Nimoy's scenes and that was a cheap way to give the film gravity. I wonder who liked that kiddie Kirk stealing a car with Beastie Boys playing scene, to me it's the fridge jump of the Star Trek series. I guess Paramount did what they tried to do unsuccessfully for 30 years...kill everything interesting about Star Trek and make it a dumb, mass appealing action blockbuster. I saw nothing redeeming about this.

Aronofsky is such a talented and visionary director...why is he remaking a movie that has nothing wrong with it?

Jefferson said...

I liked Abrams' Trek. It recognizes all the baggage heaped on the stallion by 40 years of spinoff series, shitty franchise films and fan expectations, and jettisons it -- burns it down to the ground, even going so far as to murder the PARENTS of the two main leads. (In so doing, it makes a rather dopy argument in favor of both predestination and self-determination, but that's a topic for another temporal anomaly.) I counted at least six beloved episodes of TOS that now, in this timeline, will never happen, but you know how bothered I am? Just enough to smirk quietly about it.

I will say that the score sucked, and made me miss Jerry Goldsmith.

Alex Jackson said...

I liked it too, but it was certainly dumbed-down. Conceptualizing Spock as basically a human who is trying to be Vulcan is just about the easiest thing you can do with the character in terms of writing and performance. The original series and the films really viewed him as not having emotions which meant that both Nimoy and the writers had to work to make him dramatically interesting. And I mean, he was. They got somewhere and managed to say something interesting. The Wrath of Khan sufficiently explained to me how the Vulcan way can save the universe, but nonetheless why Kirk and not Spock is captain of the ship.

Yes, it is a good summer action film though and it's perfectly reverent to the original series and sucessfully reworks all the kitschy elements from the original. In microcosm, the dorm room sex scene with the green skinned girl made it work for me. It has just been dumbed down.

Jared said...

So you guys liked that new Kirk with all of his mugging and pratfalls? Does he realize that it was way after TOS that Shatner became a punchline? And even his bad acting was not of that stripe.

Jefferson said...

Alex: Matt Zoller Seitz's video essay on Spock was created just for you.

Alex Jackson said...

Truthfully, I've seen half of the TOS movies and a handful of episodes of the series and I should have known that saying Spock didn't have emotions is very reductive.

But certainly, Nimoy's Spock is more nuanced and subtle in dealing with them. TOS certainly takes his Vulcan nature much more seriously. I mean that Age of Innocence thing with the unrequited love, that's a very rich vein to tap. The new film has him have a love affair with Uhura and even has them lock lips!

I'm not quite as impressed with the mixed-race aspect as Seitz was, but yeah that's interesting too. Spock as outsider who doesn't belong in either world. Supposedly, this was supposed to be part of the character in the new film; but instead they just focus on how Spock cannot and should not be Vulcan instead of human.