On the remakes again…

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.

The Sunday Rant

Right, so I thought I could use some venting. The years of indentured servitude one has to go through in order to become a scientist, all the while biting his tongue and pickling his emotions, have taught me that keeping things in can be at least referred to as unhealthy. So, as one might probably realize by now, I tend to rant. A lot. I like to think it’s therapeutic, but other than that I don’t really know.

Last week ended up being really interesting. I spent God knows how long waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with the greatest (so far) stink-bomb of the year – “Iron Man 3”, because I really wanted to see how it is received globally. It would seem that here in Europe we’re mostly good guys and instances of brutally spoiling this film for our fellow movie-goers across the pond were rather scarce; if you don’t count Youtube – that place is just full of butt-holes, but who am I to talk… I sincerely hoped “Iron Man 3” would bomb, but quite expectedly people loved it. The critics write sonnets about how fantastic it was and the box office revenue reflects the popular (sigh!) vote; and that scares me.

I mean, I can understand that people don’t want to step on anyone’s toes with this one, because the great Shane Black wrote the script for this piece of crap, but let’s face it: for the good of everyone around there should be no sanctity when it comes to art or entertainment. If Spielberg makes a s**t film – people should know, but it turns out that RDJ only needs flutter his eyelashes for everybody to fall hopelessly in love with Iron Man… Shame… And to think someone who brought us “Lethal Weapon” or “The Last Boy Scout” could contribute to this…

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who saw that (here’s a video rant from Peter Rallis), but still countless masses made Marvel and Disney think they’ve done it right, because the only thing that matters in here is money. They’ll make a lot of it with this one and I’ll bet you money right here and now that the PG-13 spirit of “Iron Man 3” will make its way to the next “Thor”, “Captain America” or the next “Avengers”. Who knows, maybe they all will feature little boys, Christmas themes and meaningless non-violent substitute for action. It’s not OK. If you want to see a good comic book movie – go and watch “The Crow” (I re-watched it last Sunday to wash the Iron Man off my brain). Actually, do it before they remake it in PG-13, because they are remaking it. Since R-rated movies are frowned upon, the teenagers moan and groan and people lose money, I’m afraid the remake might not be exactly dark.

Now, I could even try and come to terms with the superhero genre replacing the good old-fashioned action cinema, but if this is the way we’re headed – count me out. Now I’m literally dreading the release of “Thor 2”, “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Man of Steel”, because what if they suck as badly as “Iron Man 3” did? And I need my action films to feel normal. I was raised with them and can’t imagine the world without them…

And in that spirit, and following the raging disappointment Iron Man had caused, I caught up with two films that had slipped through my fingers: “Jack Reacher” and “End of Watch”. Now, I really appreciate the effort, because lately it is rather difficult to see something relatively original leave Hollywood. Well, maybe not exactly, because “Jack Reacher” was based on a novel if I remember correctly, but then again adapting literature is nowhere near as bad as plastering numbers on films or re-heating old noodles are. I desperately tried to like it and as a result I ended up even more frustrated with it than I originally was. Somebody needs to tell Tom Cruise it is time to go. I appreciate “Rain Man, “Jerry Maguire” or “Vanilla Sky”, but enough is enough. Tom just can’t create a believable character for crime/action film any more. It’s all Ethan Hunt over and over again and the attempted noir atmosphere just doesn’t sit very well with him. Between this, the last “Mission Impossible” and “Oblivion”, I think I’ve had enough of Tom Cruise in action films.

“End of Watch” on the other hand… Now that was something else. It was brutal, violent, gripping, maybe a bit heavy-handed with all the flag-waving and police self-apotheosis, but at least it stayed true to the values of action/crime cinema. Maybe the found-footage thing was a bit sketchy, but hey… Everybody vlogs now, so why not the Mexican gangs… So, just because I can swallow a fair bit of pathos before I get sick, I wasn’t bothered by the ‘serve-and-protect’ nonsense. The dialogues were nice, Jake Gyllenhaal was awesome, and most of all when bullets flew, people got hurt. So that’s a plus, because I hate when movies show battles or gunfights and everyone’s OK (which is exactly what I saw in “Iron Man 3”, and no – I do not intend to stop bashing it, it deserves it). Plus, the entirety of the film takes place in a car or in its direct surroundings, so clearly no-one needs to blow up oil rigs or destroy CG-made cities to keep the adrenaline up.

In fact, even “Crimson Tide” (that I happened to re-watch this week as well) proves that you can put your characters in a can and use no effects whatsoever in a film, for it to be gripping. Flag-wavy, but still gripping… But then, Denzel Washington sort of drives the movie on its own, which is yet another piece of evidence that we need character-driven action films and not this plastic colorful flashy bulls**t.

Speaking of plastic colorful flashy crap, Lovefilm sent me “Skyline” this week and I don’t really want to talk about it. I had it on my rental list for ages, because why the hell not and now I got it. What a pile of crap that was… It should be shown to people in film schools as a reminder that special effects are not enough and special effects guys rarely make good directors. Notable exceptions of the like of James Cameron can only prove the theory as a whole, because no theory is complete without exceptions. I shouldn’t even speak about “Skyline” any longer, because it might be mistaken for a review, but I’ll say only this: even though it tried to look like good modern sci-fi with all the bling what-not, but the appalling story and wooden acting can make any good film look mediocre… And a mediocre film look terrible… And a terrible film unwatchable… Therefore, just to make sure I still like Sci-fi I quickly re-watched “Sunshine” and “War of the Worlds” (with the latter additionally easing my Tom Cruise pain, but Spielberg can actually direct actors so that they look convincing, so I don’t know) and everyone was happy again.

Still, when was the last time I watched some genuinely good Sci-fi? As much as I’d like to say “Prometheus”, I couldn’t live with myself for doing that. All the nonsense that went on in that movie has most probably stretched the whole thing into a trilogy, which Ridley Scott will never finish (because he won’t have a clue, how to make it look kosher again) and hence “Prometheus” should be promptly disqualified. But anyway… Good Sci-fi… Maybe “Battle LA” could qualify even with the tonne of pathos it carried, but I think the last time I was literally blown away by a Sci-Fi film was the time I saw “District 9” – four years ago!

But there is a silver lining to that, because Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium” hits theaters this summer, so at least I’ll have something to look forward to. And I can try to feel better about seeing “Star Trek” next weekend – hopefully it won’t suck.

Meanwhile, the Sunday rant slowly crept onto Monday territory and I think I can stop now. Maybe next week I’ll do something similar and I’ll see where it gets me.

Rant over.