Remakes Redux

I talked previously about how much better the remake of Dredd was than the original Judge Dredd so I thought I’d swing back around and point out how that’s not normally the case. Let me just drop some samples on you:

The Fog, The Hitcher, Arthur, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Stepfather, Red Dawn, The Karate Kid, Robocop, Friday 13th…

The list goes on and on and in every case, the result is the same: If you saw the original first, then you probably found the remake to be either unnecessary, a gross distortion, or so bad that it went back in time and destroyed your childhood and now you’re a serial killer.

If you saw the remake first then your response was most likely: Meh?

There are a few exceptions, such as the excellent Dredd and Fright Night which I think is superior to the campy original, but for the most part, well, see the list above.

One of the best examples of how remaking an iconic 1980’s movie is playing to lose comes from the ill-advised (in a scientific capacity, at least) 2012 version of Total Recall.

In a stunning bit of expose’ journalism, I’ve managed to get my hands on the studio executive’s remake list. Apparently, this is used by all studio executives when remaking a classic film (which would explain a lot):

1. Was the original fun? If so, the remake should be dour and humorless.

2. Did the original have a larger than life personality for the starring role? If so, promise Colin Farrell a bottle of whiskey to mope around in front of the cameras for two hours.

3. Is there any science involved? If so, don’t even bother to ask a 5th grader if your idea to travel through the planet’s molten core makes any sense at all.

4. Use a pallet that’s mostly teal and gray.

The best remake ever, I think, is Dawn of the Dead. The first ten minutes of that movie is right up there with Saving Private Ryan and Pitch Black for pure intensity and it somehow manages to preserve the message of the original while tightening up Romero’s notoriously loose film-making style.

But in the end, we go to the movies to see something new, to have our minds opened or blown or, at the very least, to see someone try to do those things. The very best you can hope for with a remake is that they managed to say something new about something someone else already said.

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