Thursday, February 26, 2009

WHY?!?! Unnecessary Remake Hell

Is there nothing new out there? I think this is a common question when it comes to the film industry. A very common question. With only maybe 80 some sales a year being spec sales, the majority of Hollywood’s slate is adaptations and remakes. I’m on board with adaptations – though, sometimes I wonder how “this” movie got made, while “that book” is so much better and kept off the screen. Remakes, though, are another question. Some things should just be left alone.

Today, during my daily scroll of DoneDealPro this morning, I noticed that three out of the first five sales listed were remakes. Three out of five. That’s 60% for all you non-math whizzes out there.

Remake number 1: ARTHUR, about a booze-hound playboy who stands to earn a lot of money if he marries a certain girl in a certain family, but falls for someone much “beneath” him. Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli starred in the 1981 Oscar Award winning original (Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Song), nominated for best screenplay. Russell Brand
, yep, the FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL guy, is attached to star in the remake. Can you spell Oscar Nomination? Neither can I in this instance.

Remake number 2: TOTAL RECALL. Aaaaahhhnnnold! A man buys a virtual vacation to Mars and winds up fighting as a special agent to overthrow a Martian depot in reality – or does he? OK, remaking Arnold? Hasn’t he enacted some legislation in California against that by now? Also, really? REALLY?

Remake number 3 (and the most upsetting): THE NEVERENDING STORY. Who grew up in the 80s or 90s and didn’t watch this a dozen times? I still wish I had a giant flying dog to take me everywhere and be my best friend. This is a classic; it’d be like remaking THE PRINCESS BRIDE (Onyx would come after that producer so fast, he wouldn't know what hit him). This is a great movie, and I can guarantee now, 100%, that whatever hits theaters a few years from now will be beyond disappointing in comparison.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Can’t well-enough just be left alone?


Zombie said...

Yeah, ALL unnecessary, especially NeverEnding Story. With maybe the exception of the wolf, the puppet/costume work was great in this and still holds up really well. The scene where all of the different monsters first meet Atreyu? Such amazing costume design.

Why mess with it? Whyyyyy??? If Hollywood wants to play in the fantasy realm, they should just finish the Narnia series already...

Joe said...

I'm particularly baffled with the remake of Total Recall. Behind The Matrix and Terminator 2 (in some order), Total Recall is easily the third-best action movie of the 90's (arguably better). Plus, a remake would totally lose the camp of the 80's that was so prevalent in that film. They don't make action movies the way they used to, and I don't know if it's a good thing.

On a larger note, why is it that we get so upset at these remakes? In the case of The NeverEnding Story, is it because we somehow feel cheated by the fact that our kids are going to watch a CGI version of a movie that we once loved? This makes me wonder what movies I've watched as a kid that my parents also enjoyed as children. Barring Disney films, I can only think of The Wizard of Oz. Would our kids even want to watch our The NeverEnding Story? Needless to say, I dread hearing Miley Cirus' cover of the theme song...

Regardless of why these movies are being remade, the originals won't go away. In fact, I think B.O. and DVD sales suggest that the remake will eventually fade into oblivion (I have no #'s to back this statement up, so someone feel free to shoot me down). For example, the AVP series has done nothing to diminish the quality of the first 3 Alien movies or the Predator films. In fact, in what alternate universe does AVP or AVP Requiem become a classic? No matter what Hollywood studios try to do, Vin Diesel is never going to be able to entertain us with a constant loop of "Get your ass to Mars" quite like Arnold, and no CGI three-boobed lady is gonna be as hot as frizzy-haired bimbo in that bar...

I think one major point here is - tada - the economy. You guys have been looking for indicators in the film industry and so far haven't found anything in script sales or box office receipts - well, here you go. In a time when we really don't know how long or painful this recession is going to be, studios want to go with as close to a sure-fire bet as they can. They know that the three movies listed in this post were successful, have enduring appeal (ok, so maybe not Arthur), and will reliably get $50 M or more on opening weekend (Arthur will get $12 M...if they're lucky). Expect to see these purchases for a little while, expect a few of them to actually be released in 2010, but then as the economy improves, I think you'll see that the majority of projects eventually fail to see the light of day.

Onyx said...

I think a very small group of movies should be off limits for a remake, and I don't believe any of these three make that list. Like Joe said, a crappy remake isn't going to tarnish the accomplishments of the original. By the way Joe, I think you should take away one Arnie movie from your top 3 action movies of the 90s list and add another. True Lies should replace Total Recall. True Lies will always be one of the best action movies ever made, arguably the best in my opinion.

Joe said...

I'd be willing to put True Lies at 3 and have Total Recall at 4. I enjoyed Total Recall more, but I have to agree with you Onyx, True Lies is certainly better. Thank you Jamie Lee Curtis for ushering me into puberty.

Joe said...

I feel like this could explode into a topic all its own. I'm sitting here stewing over where to take this - a debate over the greatest action movie of all time, or some kind of list of the top 10 in the 90's. I'm practically paralyzed by the possibilities...

Leetal said...


Cake Man said...

True Lies is a damn good action movie. As was Eraser (so sue me). I also really remembe liking Cliffhanger when that first came out, but I dno't know if I've seen it since, so I can't begin to say how it hold up. I think that the first Matrix movie would have to rank pretty high if you did a list of the best of the 90s.

Onyx said...

My personal top 10 action movies. 1 and 2 are definitely in order, the rest not necessarily.

1 - True Lies
2 - Predator
3 - Die Hard
4 - Black Hawk Down
5 - Terminator 2
6 - Enter the Dragon
7 - Bad Boys
8 - Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
9 - Speed
10 - Hard Boiled

Cake Man said...

This is quite tough. My first-draft list, out of order, for the 90s only, is:

1 - True Lies
2 - GoldenEye
3 - Speed
4 - The Rock
5 - Terminator 2
6 - The Matrix
7 - Con Air
8 - Last of the Mohicans
9 - Braveheart
10 - Saving Private Ryan

I know some people might argue that those last three don't count. I guess I could be convinced of that.

Joe said...

ok, 90's:

The Matrix
True Lies
Total Recall
The Rock
Die Hard 3
Golden Eye
Independence Day
Demolition Man

All time:

The Matrix
Die Hard
True Lies
Total Recall
The Rock
The Running Man
Rocky IV

**Please note, I have not seen "Aliens", nor enough Clint Eastwood/Chuck Norris movies

Joe said...

Cake Man, here's the rule:

If it's nominated for best picture, it doesn't count.

Oh shit. The Dark Knight has to go on my all time list...Bloodsport is gone and TDK is either one, two, or three

Cake Man said...

Yeah. I can see that. Technically, they are "action" but they are also great dramas. Not to say that action movies can't have powerful drama or well-written stories, but they are apart from them. I'll replace them with

8 - Starship Troopers
9 - Face/Off
10 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (ok, probably not, but still holds up to this day), so
Real 10 - Jurassic Park

to appease the masses

Onyx said...

Ah Bloodsport. I definitely left out some Van Damme favorites.

I forgot about The Rock, Joe. That's a great one for sure.

I don't know about Jurassic Park Cake Man. I love that movie, but I get an adventure vibe from it, not an action one.

'Backer said...

Top 10 all time:

1. French Connection
2. Terminator 2
3. The Rock
4. Speed
5. True Lies
6. The Matrix
7. Lethal Weapon
8. No Country for Old Men
9. Die Hard 3
10. Kill Bill V. 1

This list is just ordered based on the action elements of each movie. If we were going movie by movie, No Country would above The Rock.

I've seen your lists, my list...seems like something's missing...

Joe said...

...Pulp Fiction...but nominated for best picture...I gotta think No Country is, like Unforgiven, more of a drama...

Zombie said...

Of the '90s, in no order for simplicity's sake:

Starship Troopers (Having a hard time including this one... but I guess sci-fi can be action?)
Hard Boiled
Hard Target
Ghost in the Shell

Damn, the 80s are when these movies really shined. Every action movie I love seems to fall between 85 & 88...

Cake Man said...

Starship Troopers probably counts. Just because it doesn't have one single awesome hero doesn't mean it doesn't work. How about

The Fugitive

Joe said...

Sci-Fi has to count. There's a ton of overlap between sci-fi and action. I mean, that eliminates half of the lists on here if you have to take that off...