Friday, September 9, 2011


 Here's another short article from my local newspaper. It is on a subject close to my cinematic heart, namely the mania for the re-make. I'm not a fan of them at all. For me they represent a total lack of original thinking, or even just straight out laziness in even trying to come up with one's own premise for a film. Secondly what is the point except lucre?? They are just making money out of a new generation of cinema goers, and those who think just because a film is 'old' it must be crap. And thirdly has a remake ever ever topped the original?? Maybe once in a blue moon but we all know the answer don't we? Anyway on with the article!!

What do you get when you take a classic movie and remake it ? A not so-good copy.

 Rare is the remake that actually improves on the original. This year's The Mechanic, with Jason Statham, springs to mind. But the original versions of Assault on Precinct 13 or The Longest Yard or The Taking of Pelham 123 were just fine on their own, and in their own time. With the new versions of Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night recently released, we'll focus on movies that never should have been touched. Stop me if you've heard this one before:

 Psycho ( 1998 ):

 Pretty much no one should go near Alfred Hitchcock, ever. But if you're daring enough to try, you should avoid doing a shot-by-shot remake of what is probably the master's best-known film. Still, you've got to admire Gus van Sant's chutzpah. He shot it in colour that's the different and added slight tweaks. Vince Vaughan plays Anthony Perkin's role of Norman Bates and Anne Heche fills in for Janet Leigh as Marion Crane. Other than that, it's the same characters, dialogue, camera angles, even the same Bernard Hermann score from 1960. It's an exercise but, ultimately, a noble failure.

City Of Angels ( 1998 ):

Wim Wender's Wings of Desire ( 1987 ) is a modern classic, and it featured one of the greatest performances by the late Peter Falk. melancholy, thoughtful and visually arresting,it followed unseen angels who watched over Berlin, observing people's actions, listening to their thoughts,quietly shaping their lives. City of Angels, by comparison, was too obvious : it spelled everything out, its emotions were too tidy. Brad Silberling turned this subtle story into a simple romantic comedy starring Nicolas cage as an angel and Meg Ryan as a heart surgeon, two actors who make absolutely no sense together.

The Women ( 2008 ):

George Cukor's 1939 cat fight based on the play by Clare Boothe Lucre, was intended as a satire of society mavens and their frivolous lives. In directing for the first time and writing the script, Murphy Brown creator Diane English made it a celebration. Sure, it had an all-female cast of solid actresses ( Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Cloris Leachman ), as did the original, though perhaps not quite the stellar collection that included Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. English applied all the lighthearted instincts of her sitcom background and seemingly none of the insights of the source material.

The Invasion ( 2007 ):

 There've been many versions of the sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but this one had the least bite. Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Jeffery Wright went to waste as a few of the last citizens who remained uninfected when a gloopy substance from outer space took over the population, turning people into emotionless drones of themselves. The whole point of this story has always been to serve as a reflection of its times, whether making a statement about McCarthyism ( 1956 ), Vietnam or Watergate ( 1978 ). This time, there were passing TV news nods to North Korea and the war in Iraq, but the film's political ideology felt half baked. Worst of all, it wasn't the slightest bit scary or suspenseful.

The Karate Kid ( 2010 ):

 This is admittedly a personal, nostalgic choice. But for anyone who grew up in the 80's The Karate Kid inspires deep fondness. Harold Zwart's version maintained the basic structure and even some of the key details, like the sweep-the-leg moment in the finale. It moved from the setting from Los Angeles to Beijing, that's no big deal. The main problem was the casting of Jaden Smith, who was several years younger than Ralph Macchio was and looks even younger. So neither the fighting nor the romance with a girl who's out of his league, two key components of The Karate Kid, made sense.

What say you??

 When Psycho was remade I was flabbergasted to say the least. What an absolutely pointless exercise. Why oh why make a film shot for shot?? I thought the whole point of a remake ( as much as I dis-like them ) is to re-imagine the original? But more than that with Psycho it was sacrilege both to the genius of Alfred Hitchcock and to one of the 20th Centuries greatest films. And bah....Vince Vaughn? Shame he wasn't tossed into the shower and stabbed repeatedly!!!!

 I was very lucky to see The women on the big screen 3 or 4 years ago. What a film!! The remake is just total and utter crap I'm afraid. Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer may be long gone but they have nothing to fear from Meg Ryan and co as they could run rings around them all as actresses. This is yet another example of a film that should never have been attempted because the original is just too good in the first place.

 I've never bothered with the Kidman/Craig remake of the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I mean Donald Sutherland's scream at the end of his version is an iconic cinematic moment. How could a remake ever hope to compete with an icon??

 And I avoided The Karate Kid like the plague. I grew up in the 1980's and that film is an iconic film of the decade. Maybe not a masterpiece but truly iconic none the less. It had heart and everyone knew the lines 'wax on, wax off'!! It is still a film that if you are a child of the 80's you have great fondness for. The remake??..well, BAH to you too!!!!


  1. Great article Brent, have to agree with a lot of it as well. Psycho was just one of the worst offenders of a long list of terrible terrible remakes.

    Avoided The Karate Kid as well and I saw Invasion which was just a mess which I knew going in due to massive behind the scenes issues that should have been reason enough to leave well enough a long.

    Which of course will never happen as long as the chance of a profit exist.

  2. Great write-up!

    Psycho is one the worsts. Haven't seen the new Karate kid. Have zero interest. The new Conan was stupid fun though.

  3. Yeah Daniel remakes really are only there to make a buck and damn the quality. I'm just not a fan of them at all. I've recently read a rumour of the other 80's classic Back to the Future is under consideration to be remade!! If they do that why not defile ET as well?
    Honestly what was the point of remaking Pyscho?? I just can't find any valid reason for it.
    I think this article is quietly pointing out the fact that remakes just don't work and are 99.9% of the time extremely poor films in the process.

    Ty..welcome back my friend, been a while since I've heard from you! Pyscho was a disgrace. Why anyone thought that one of the greatest films ever made should be remade is beyond me. I refused to see Karate Kid because the original is a classic and not a bad movie at all. It was a firm favorite as a kid growing up in the 80's and I still like it to this day.

  4. Happy to drop by!

    Never understood why Hollywood would remake movies at all! The originals are classics. Especially Psycho and The Karate Kid. For every one decent remake, there are five bad ones.

  5. Remakes are a sign of (a) creative laziness, and (b) executives not having the courage to go with new material and unconventional talents. A remake already has a "band name"; half your marketing is done by dint of the movie's name. The Platinum Dunes company, which has turned in one dreary remake after another of classic 70s horror movies, is the perfect example of this kind of "dollar bottom line" thinking.

    I read last week that Ridley Scott (or was it Tony?) is in talks to direct a remake of 'The Wild Bunch', one of my all-time favourite films. The prospect is just too depressing!

  6. Ty...agreed asvery few remakes ever work.

    Neil...absolutely spot on. They are a sign of creative laziness. And even more so on studios not backing new or unconventional talent/material. I generally don't go and see remakes as they really hit a raw nerve with me. And I avoid anything that is a remake of a film I liked in its original form.
    I hope to god The Wild Bunch isn't even attempted. I mean it is in the AFI's top 100 films. It is more than just a classic it is truly great film full stop. Nah that is not on and depressing as you say.