Wednesday, August 24, 2016

News You Can't Use: How 'remake' became a dirty word in Hollywood

As The Bard William Shaker once so rightly observed a rose by any other name would probably get a vastly different response because branding is critical to the success or failure of a product and a good name and slogan can sell anything. At least that's what I think it was, maybe something about brevity and wit, but I think we all get the idea. The reason there's audible groaning during the endless previews at the theater isn't because no one wants to see a remake of "Dude, Where's My Car." It's because the word "remake" itself is putting people off and if we'd just come up with a better term for Hollywood's creative impotence everything would be solved and we could go back to swimming around in the money bin all day.

Some of the greatest Hollywood movies of the modern era are remakes.

Citation missing, as they say.

Martin Scorsese’s grubby Boston gangland thriller The Departed riffs shamelessly on the Hong Kong crime epic Infernal Affairs

That's not, strictly speaking, a remake. If it is, then the fudging original "Star Wars" is too. It's just ordinary laziness, not the super jet-fueled laziness that produces things like "Ben-Hur."

And yet the very term, along with its younger sibling the “reboot”, seems to have become a dirty word in Hollywood in 2016.

I just don't get, I mean there's nothing more exciting than the same old drivel reheated.

If Star Wars: The Force Awakens had been made a few decades ago, it might easily have been sold as a remake, but with George Lucas’s prequels having already been blamed for ruining countless childhoods, the movie was pitched as a sort of “re-quel”, a sequel with all the elements of a remake necessary to inspire nostalgia but enough new material to move the story on and set up future adventures.

Blame your ruined childhood on your freezer mother, not on the minstrel show/government procedural in space that the prequels represented. Clearly the answer is "re-quels" where it's basically the same story but with enough half-assed changes to trick you into buying a ticket and once you realize you've been shucked it's too late.

One imagines Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters might have saved itself a lot of pain by following a similar approach.

Or by actually being funny. Or having special effects that didn't look like something out a student film. Or showing even a glimmer of basic competence. Yes, just a few minor tweaks would have saved that dog's dinner.

“This summer a new team will answer the call.” Sadly, by this point, it was already too late: the media had long been referring to the movie as a female-fronted remake, and the “bro” brigade was already on the warpath.

Leave it to "bros" to notice the massive technical and artistic failings of a cynical cash-grab and ruin it for everyone.

The Rock this week on Instagram insisted the new version of the Robin Williams fantasy romp Jumanji is most definitely not a remake. “For the record, we are NOT making a reboot, but rather a ‘continuation of the story’,” he wrote. 

I just don't smell whatever it is you're cooking, Mr. The Rock.

Roma Downey, producer of the new Ben-Hur movie, was at it too last week at the LA premiere for the swords and sandals, ahem, reworking.

Now with 80% less leprosy!

“It’s been almost 60 years since the Charlton Heston film,” she told Variety. “There is a whole generation of people who haven’t even seen the 1959 film."

And it's not like that classic was preserved in any way, so we're forced to make a new version. If only movies could be somehow stored on portable media, but as you know, that's impossible.

"And there are so many differences in this version, so if you brought grandpa along, he wouldn’t recognise it.”  

He'd be saying "this is soulless modern garbage," and he'd be right.

 My Summer Chariot.

Then there’s the forthcoming new version of The Craft, the little-remembered witchy 90s teen chiller that’s been reworked with Leigh Janiak, director of the critically acclaimed low-budget 2014 horror Honeymoon

Can't wait to see what a new generation will do with an "I used evil magic to change my hair color!" stinker.

Here’s the thing. If the term “remake” has become taboo in Hollywood, studios only have themselves to blame.

Yeah. I think we made the point that needed to be made.

Komment Korner  

I was seriously expecting them to land on Mt. Olympus in the more recent past, given the Hellenic names the characters had.

Just wait until they remake (recycle? reboot? regurgitate?) "Casablanca" with an all female cast.

Who, I always wonder, is watching this ephemeral trash?

I think something is wrong with my T.

Dune is too complicated to work in a single film  

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here. 

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