“You better think (think) think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think), let your mind go, let yourself be free…”
Aretha Franklin, Think
I have held off on this topic for reasons of my own sanity. It has not been easy. It concerns a subject that I hold dear to my heart, and it makes me, quite literally, froth at the mouth like a rabid dog, when I start discussing it. And I don’t want to be that guy, the guy that rants on about something in his blog, just because he has a blog to display his rants. Too many people beat me to that punch already…
But, today, I saw something that just… well… it put me over the edge. I sat stunned in my chair for what seemed like an hour, just thinking about it. I found my head shaking, and I was just muttering the word, “Why….” over and over.
Someone wants to remake Escape From New York.
Check that… Breck Eisner, whose daddy, Michael Eisner, did his very damnedest to rip the roots out of the Walt Disney empire (which in and of itself is a rant for another time…), wants to remake the John Carpenter classic film Escape From New York.
A question has been locked in my head for about six years now, and I am finally going to say it out loud. The question is this – Does NO ONE in Hollywood have a damn OUNCE of originality anymore???
I can feel the foam starting at the corners of my mouth already…
Oh, to hell with it…
I remember sitting in a movie theatre in October of 1994, in a packed audience, watching Pulp Fiction. The audience was stunned. For two hours, we all sat there, not really believing what we were seeing. It was like seeing the face of the future. Tight, crisp, edgy dialogue… a storyline that broke into different time frames, only to come back full circle, twice over, in fact… a cast including two actors that many thought were easing their way out, and one who had, for all purposes, faded into the sunset… situations that you found yourself laughing at that you just KNEW you were not supposed to be laughing at, but you could not help it… a soundtrack that went from classic R&B to California Beach to Chuck friggin’ Berry… I felt like I was losing my mind!
For months after, all film eyes were on this “new wave” of directors and writers. The Old School was done!!! The New Wave was here!!!! People like Tarantino, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, and Robert Rodriguez were going to pave the way to a new level of movie-making that promised to be nothing but incredible!!!
Now… jump cut to 2011…
What the hell has happened? Where the hell did the originality go? First guess? Right out the damn window?
Do you guys have any idea how damn hard it is to be a movie fan these days???
Aside from the outrageous ticket prices, I mean…
Honestly, I just want to meet the people who actually thought it would be a good idea to make a film version of The Dukes of Hazzard. For that matter, who approved a film version of The Beverly Hillbillies? Is Hollywood just flat out of ideas? I mean, look at what we, the moviegoers, have had heaped on us in the past three or four years? Why are we remaking movies that do not need remaking? It got announced a couple of months ago that the “hot movie” coming up was the remake of Dirty Dancing.
Let me repeat that.
The REMAKE of Dirty Dancing.
The remake of a movie I all but had to bolt myself into the seat to get through the FIRST TIME I had to sit through it… this is a “hot movie” coming to theatres soon?
Oh, it gets better, too. In about a month, we get a Footloose remake. A frigging Footloose remake. I am supposed to be giddy over that? Are you kidding me? Howard Stern, that bastion of logic and taste, wants to remake Porky’s. Oh yeah, because there were so many unanswered questions in the first THREE Porky’s movies????
Case in point? I accepted the idea of a remake of Arthur. I did not like it, but I accepted it. And what happened? In this lovely world of political correctness, Arthur Bach could not be a loveable drunk playboy, played so brilliantly in the original by Dudley Moore. But, see, now, “loveable drunk” is translated as “sad, pitiful alcoholic,” and that doesn’t play well, so, in the NEW version, Arthur is just, well, a jackass. He had no charm to balance out the drunken silliness. Therefore, why was this made? To try to cash in on a title that had millions of fans. Plain and simple…
I am not going to say that the idea does not pay off now and then. I almost choked to death when I heard that the Coen Brothers were remaking True Grit. Someone had the temerity to try to remake the quintessential John Wayne movie? The movie that defined John Wayne’s later years? The movie so associated with The Duke that a single image of him in the character of Rooster Cogburn is almost a definition of his career?
But, and this is a big “but,” the Coen Brothers did not remake the MOVIE… they made a film of the book as it was written by Charles Portis. Major difference. The Duke’s version was tailored to his already-existing mythos, and catered to it in every scene. This version was (forgive me) grittier, meaner, more hardened. Cogburn was not just a drunken cowboy with a mean streak towards lawbreakers. LaBoeuf is not a good-looking charmer with eyes on young Mattie. It worked because it played against the original movie rather than trying to copy it.
What is the old adage? “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut now and then…”
There are currently plans to remake Death Wish, Mad Max, and Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd, a movie that Stallone managed to destroy a comic book hero with. Stallone, by the way, is slated to be the star of the Death Wish remake. Yippee. Poltergeist, American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and Hitchcock’s The Birds are also ready to remake. Why do I bet each of these will be in that headache-inducing 3-D? We got Conan (as in the Barbarian, not the talk show ginger boy) coming up soon. Release the doves…
Look at this list for what we have waiting for us in 2012… http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/upcoming-movie-remakes/
There is not one on that list that remotely intrigues me on any level. Others may think differently, and more power to them. To be quite honest, there are several that just make me want to throw things at the wall until I can see the wiring behind the sheetrock.
Why does the Escape From New York remake bother me so much? Simple answer. It was one hell of an original idea. John Carpenter and Nick Castle, the screenwriters, turned the city of New York into a prison, then crashed the President’s plane in it, and sent one of the most badass characters in screen history into the city to rescue the President. Carpenter cast Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, the aforementioned badass, which was against every type of character Russell had ever played. He casts soul music legend Isaac Hayes as the evil overlord of the prison that is now New York City. And he made the movie for a $6 million budget. Six million dollars wouldn’t even hire a lead actor any more.
Remaking movies is a cop-out. The original screenwriters and directors may give their blessing, but all it truly amounts to is a lazy way to make movies. I will not go as far as to call it outright theft, but it is damn close. The new director may be putting a “new spin” on the script, or whatever catchphrase suits their press agents. My grandfather used to say, “Pouring perfume on a pig and putting ribbons on its neck don’t make it anything but a pretty pig.”
Is there no imagination left in Hollywood? Do filmmakers have to swipe ideas from old copies of TV Guide and Starlog in order to make their bones? You hear about some new director at the Sundance Film Festival, whose movie, made on a shoestring budget, made the audiences stand up and applaud for 20 minutes, and what happens to him? His first major job is Hollywood is directing the remake of Bill Murray’s Meatballs??? How is this recognizing his talent? Some screenwriter, whose script for a movie that had the Venice Film Festival weeping until they passed out, gets a contract to write a major motion picture, and gets assigned the sequel to the film version of The A-Team? Are you insane???
And, before someone throws James Cameron and Avatar at me, let me put this out there… Avatar is a remake of Dances With Wolves. Substitute giant blue people for Lakota Sioux Indians, and tell me I am wrong…
Stop it, Hollywood. Get all this ridiculous crap out of your system, and spend some money finding the filmmakers and screenwriters that work their wares at places like Sundance, like Telluride, like Tribeca. Go to the film festivals and sign these films and actually market them to a wide audience and see what happens. You may not get a billion-dollar Lord of the Rings package, but you may find yourself being applauded for finding the next genius who has been buried by the studio execs that think remaking Sixteen Candles and going forward with Gilligan’s Island: The Movie are box office magic.
In a nutshell, Hollywood, get a brain and grow some balls. Especially if you want us to pay $15 to see another remake of Clash Of The Titans.
Really… did we need a remake of a Harry Hamlin movie?