Let’s only remake shit films from now on. At best modern remakes are redundant. David Fincher proved it when he remade The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. His remake is superior in many ways. The ending is better. It had a bigger budget, better music, better cinematography, tighter editing, the list goes on. To be quite frank; it bloody well ought to be better. It had more money and a more experienced director.
Fact is; it’s only marginally superior. There was nothing wrong with the original. It’s excellent. Fincher’s near shot for shot remake is only slightly better than Oplev’s rendering it a pointless exercise. A waste of time.
King Kong was also a massive waste of time. Why would I want to watch yet another version of a film that is already as good as it will ever be? Why would I then want to watch a remake of said film in which ever single scene is at least twice as long as it needs to be? Boring. Somewhere down the line Peter Jackson has forgotten how to edit. Three Hobbit films! How do you make three films from a plot that would fit on the back of a napkin?
I was thinking about how Hollywood should handle remakes a while back but was reminded recently when watching the remake of The Crazies. The Crazies remake was fine but brought nothing new to the table. Romero’s The Crazies is an A-Grade zombie masterpiece. The remake is just a solid piece of entertainment. Redundant.
“It’s not as good as the original” and “Have you seen the original?”
Two phrases that instantly float around when a remake comes out. Without fail I find myself asking the latter to anyone who mentions the remake. It’s compulsory. I can’t stop myself.
Only remaking shit films is the solution. This way no one cares if you mess it up. If you manage to make an average film then people will still be able to say “well at least it’s better than the original”.
The Amityville Horror trialled the technique a few years back and was a success. Don’t get me wrong the remake is nothing to write home about ably defining ‘middle of the road’. But the original Amityville Horror was shite, so shite that the remake could have been a bit shitter than it was and still seem like Citizen Kane in comparison (or should that be Vertigo). That said the remake is a technical improvement and made the studio money therefore it was a successful remake.
There’s another advantage to this solution. A more interesting advantage to just making money: ‘Having another crack at it’.
Too many times have I watched a film and thought “that’s a mint idea” and then been horrendously disappointed by the execution. Nobody liked Prometheus. Wasted opportunity. Let Ridders have another shot at it. Give him a smaller budget and pen so he can cross out the ten characters that were entirely superfluous.
A smaller budget is key. A smaller budget encourages creativity, innovation and a need for a tighter script. Plus makes it easier to make your money back.
We’ve got the framework in place; shit films, good ideas, smaller budgets. So now what are we going to remake?
I would start with Event Horizon. I hate Event Horizon. The reason I hate it so much is because I thought the first 20-30 minutes were ace. A revolutionary experimental spaceship goes missing and reappears after a number of years, all crew missing. Great idea. But the great idea gradually slipped away before plummeting to new depths of despondency when it revealed it’s third act to be a turgid reworking of Hellraiser.
Why not give it another go? Start with the idea and write it new. Give it to an up-and-coming director. See what they can do. Couldn’t be any worse.
Sometimes you have to dilute the idea down to it’s most basic form. Sometimes that can just be a single set-up.
SWAT for example. I think we will all agree that no one actually likes this film either. We can all agree as well that the concept is paper-thin. But dig this; towards the end of the film the SWAT team has to transport a criminal overlord from the Police station to a secure prison via bus. The criminal turns to the news cameras and offers a huge sum of money to anyone who breaks him out before he gets there. They left that for the last 20 minutes of the film. Mad. That should BE the film. A bus load of cops tear-arsing across the desert hounded by gangs of money-hungry maniacs.
Imagine giving that plot to John Carpenter. It would be great. Like mix between Assault on Precinct 13 and Mad Max 2. That last sentence almost gave me a hard-on just writing it.
Maybe this one is obvious or maybe a tad nerdy; but I’m a shameless Alien3 defender. I know it’s a mess but there’s something about it I find endearing. Especially the work-print version. A mess but a fascinating one. Even considering this I can’t help but wonder what the fabled Vincent Ward ‘Wooden Planet’ film could have been like.
If you’re lost at this point look it up. The concept is pretty bizarre but has some alluring set-pieces such as the alien hunting space-monks in a burning wheat field. Yes, exactly. Get it done. Let’s see it. No one will give two-shits if it doesn’t fit in with Alien Resurrection canon.
The Star Wars prequels are in dire need of some attention. Lucas just lost his mind. The man knew from experience that he can’t write for shit. It’s well documented that Harrison Ford told him so. And so did Coppola. He can come up with good stories but scripts continue to elude him.
Like he did with Empire Strikes Back Lucas should hire a couple of top-notch writers to have another go at the prequels. Get through the whole Anakin being an annoying kid thing in the first 20 minutes and spend more time developing his older character. A remake also presents an excellent opportunity to recast the role of Anakin with an actor instead of a plank of wood. And ditch the pod-race.
Back to reality. Not all remakes are a bad thing. Something about remaking a film but ‘in space’ consistently appeals to me (Outland: High Noon in space). Carpenter himself managed a couple of outstanding remakes. But he reworked them, found what made the original great then distilled it down into it’s purest form before building it back up from the foundations. The Thing from The Thing from Another World and Assault on Precinct 13 from Rio Bravo. Both of which incidentally now how piss-poor remakes.
If you’re going to remake a film you have to do it like Carpenter did.
What would you like to see remade? Who do you want to remake it? Comments welcome below.