I think it has become a personal obsession of mine to follow and consecutively get worked up about the news of what film, that I might have treasured in the past, is going to be remade. And so, every now and again a handful of articles would emerge that would make me feel homicidal. Take today, for example. Everybody is getting excited about a brand spankin’ new poster for the remake of Park Chan-Wook’s “Oldboy” and I can only assume it is only the beginning, as the trailer is supposed to drop sometime this week as well. So, there’s one film (if not a masterpiece) that I believe should have been left alone.
Really, what could possibly be the reason for remaking such a beautifully crafted piece of cinema? I’ll have you know that it most certainly will not deliver the impact the original did. Why? Because at this point in time, I think most of us know what “Oldboy” is all about, and I can guarantee that any given trailer to the remake posted on Youtube will boast a wide spoiler section within the comments – because that’s what people do.
So if you are one of the 10 people in the world that hasn’t seen the original, you’d better go watch it before the Internet spoils it for you. After all, apart from everything that made “Oldboy” so uniquely and brutally revolting, it’s the plot twist that carries a lot of the bang. So, how in the world am I supposed to go and watch the remake now? Should I forget about what I know? Should I get hammered prior to the screening? Or is Spike Lee going to bastardize the original so badly that it simply won’t matter?
Why don’t we, for once, learn from the past and realize that reviving classics (that may or may not have had some sort of cult following) is neither financially viable, nor does it bring anything desirable to the table. If anything, it taints the picture painted by the original. Additionally, speaking strictly from the point of view of probability, what are the odds that any given remake will do well at the box office? Slim to none, at best. Of course, there are examples to the contrary, but that doesn’t really change the trend of remakes being disappointing in every which way.
Consider these three examples from the recent memory:
1. “Total Recall” – a walking proof of what I just said. A sloppy remake of a cult classic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s prose. Clearly someone thought it would be a good idea to ‘refresh’ the old uber-brutal sci-fi actioner that I have watched on multiple occasions. What’s-his-face Len Wiseman surely is no Paul Verhoeven, Colin Farrell is no Arnie and no amount of glass and sanitized CGI is going to make up for the old-school make-up and props that made Mars looks so damn scary once.
2. “Red Dawn” – another pointless remake born and raised in 2012. Why doesn’t someone explain to me in terms I can understand, how this sad bummer of a film had made it through the planning stage? Again, Chris Hemsworth is no Patrick Swayze – end of story. On top of that, the reason the original “Red Dawn” was so good had to do mostly with the fact the Soviets in that time were an actual threat to the US, or the entire world for that matter. Translating the idea into modern times and making the North Koreans be the villains was hardly effective. Plus, they were supposed to be Chinese in the first place, but someone didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, I presume. End result – annoying, to say the least.
3. “Conan The Barbarian” – this one was actually made in 2011, so it doesn’t fit perfectly into the ‘recent memory’ slot. However, it was so disturbingly bad that I stopped watching the DVD halfway through. And I know it might sound bad, but no amount of exposed breasts (however pretty they might be) is going to make me turn the blind eye at the fact that not only the literature classic has been gang-raped by this abomination of a film, but also the cult classic fantasy film I treasured so much as a young boy has now been fudged up beyond all repairs for me. And also, Jason Momoa is no Arnie… But then again, no-one is…
This is what happens, when classics are ‘revived’ into remakes… Something needs to be dead first, for it to be eligible for resurrection in the first place. Guess what happens when you defibrillate a conscious person? It flippin’ hurts and you can do actual damage to them. So, when it comes to film remakes, you can see clearly that the only thing you’d be doing as a viewer is constantly compare it to the original and more often than not, you’d be pissed at what you’re forced to sit through. Therefore, God help us all, because neither “Oldboy”, nor “The Crow” is going to go down well, and having the original comic book creator on board for “The Crow” remake is not going to help.