When I was struggling a bit to figure out what I was going to write for this month's column, my husband posed a question I’ve often asked with my open hands raised to the air. Why are there so many movie remakes?
I think the answer is simple. It comes down to making money. It always comes down to making money.
Even so, I do have a lot of thoughts about do-overs. I'm really quite puzzled by some of them.
What the heck was Rob Zombie thinking when he remade "Halloween"? There was no reason whatsoever to do that and what he made was horrible. If you love it, cool for you, but I hated it.
The original is scary and well-acted and needs nothing added to it to make it a horror classic.
The remake was just a way to get an audience to fork over some money either out of curiosity (my reason to see it) or because they were already fans of Rob Zombie’s work.
Although "Psycho" was made in black and white and we do know that today’s audiences will rarely watch a black and white film -- unless it's supposed to be artsy -- it should not have been remade.
This is another one that I think was done just to get those who loved the original to come see the new one out of curiosity. It flopped and with good reason. There wasn’t anything better than the old film in it.
They, whoever they were, could have just digitally remastered it and colorized it and put it out to the theaters. You can’t beat the acting or writing of the original, and the story doesn’t need fancy special effects, so what was the point?
I watched the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and all I can remember of it is one scene where Keanu Reeves and some actress with dark hair are standing in the woods looking at something through the foggy darkness. It’s just a blur to me.
Did this movie do anything worthwhile that the older version didn’t? I don’t think so.
Oh, wait, it made some people richer. Yep. It wasn’t a big hit but it gave some people jobs for a little while. I’m pretty sure those people would have been happy to work on a film with a new story instead though.
The original looms large in my memory and it’s one of my all-time favorite science-fiction movies. Its impact came from the tale and not fancy effects.
All self-respecting geeks know the line, "Gort, Klaatu barada nikto," and what it means. It’s like "Beam me up. Scotty." It’s part of our culture.
I’m not a fan of the new one in this case.
Since writers don’t get paid the kinds of wages big name actors do, I’ll never understand why the desire to just keep telling the stories that have been told before.
I know plenty of science-fiction and fantasy writers who’d love to write new stories for the movies. They’d work for far less than the actors get paid or what the CGI costs. C’mon Hollywood, give my friends the jobs!
Some people defend remakes by saying that actors have seen the old films and would like a chance to play the parts—that remakes are rather like being in a play. Plays go away and come back in revivals all the time.
If this is so, then, the actors should go work in stage plays. They won’t make as much money but they’ll get to play those juicy parts. They also won’t face the scrutiny that being in a movie remake gets them.
Movie audiences are there to see the remake top the old film and the actors live up to the example of the first ones to play the parts. This just doesn’t happen often.
C’mon, could Keanu Reeves ever hope to play Klaatu better, or even as well, as Michael Rennie did? No! Could anyone else’s performance beat Jamie Lee Curtis’s in the original “Halloween”? Again, no!
As is the case for every rule, there are exceptions.
When the filmmakers come up with something new to add to the original, it can be delightful. This is the case with Roger Corman’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”
It was made into a stage play and then translated to a movie musical based on the play. This worked! The ending was changed from the original movie’s and the play’s endings but that worked too. There was still a "The End?" when you saw a very interesting looking plant in Seymour and Audrey’s garden.
I loved the new “Star Trek.” I get that it’s an alternate universe now and that makes the changes work for me. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned.
I like the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, but I also had a lot of fun with "The Amazing Spider-Man."
This is another case in which the changes are what made the remake work. The origin of Spider-Man is a little different. There’s a mystery to be solved there. The change of Peter Parker’s girlfriend from Mary Jane to Gwen Stacy also gave a fresh feel to the story.
There were some neat little touches that amused me. It’s cute that Peter Parker gets the idea for his mask from a Mexican wrestling poster. I also liked the scene in which he has to remove his mask because it is frightening the child he’s trying to save.
The remake that has me curious right now is "Total Recall." You don’t want me to get started on what I think is wrong with the original. We’d be here all day. I’m hoping that the new version will correct the mistakes made the first time. The trailers for it give me some hope that it will.
For years, I’ve had a mental list of movies I hope will never be remade. Sadly, number one on the list was "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
Some of the others are: "Forbidden Planet" for which there have been remake plans that have not come to fruition, "Princess Bride," and any of the first three Indiana Jones movies.
Unfortunately, for me, I don’t make the calls and in the end, it all comes down to, as I’ve said so many times, how somebody can make money off of movie-goers.
Even though some remakes are quite good, I wish we’d see more original science-fiction and fantasy films written by good writers who love the genres. That’s what would make me a happy movie-goer.
I bet it would be good for you too.
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