Movie remakes: Are they really so bad?
It feels like we’re always complaining about how many remakes (and reimaginings, and reduxes, and sequels, and franchises, and whatever other fancy word you can dream up for non-original ideas) are coming out of Hollywood. But now there really, really, truly seems to be more than ever before coming down the line: After this summer of Star Trek and Terminator and Land of the Lost, we still have Footloose, Harvey, The Yellow Submarine, Karate Kid, Fame, The A-Team, Predator, Children of the Corn, and, well, a heck of a lot of others to look forward to. But is this an unequivocally bad and/or stupid move on the entertainment industry’s part? This L.A. Times post makes some reasoned arguments that it’s not: Basically, a familiar title is a better bet, especially in bad economic times — not just because it ensures a certain return on investment (I must admit I’m genetically programmed to show up at anything called Footloose, and I’m a trained professional who should know better), but because people also gravitate toward the soothing familiar than the unknown (whether they’ll still have a job next month is enough of an unknown, thank you very much).
I’d also agree that, while there’s nothing like the thrill of watching an entirely fresh idea unfold (like in this summer’s Up), remakes aren’t all bad. Star Trek was fun, no? And a remake doesn’t necessarily amount to a copy of an original; a wily filmmaker could have a fresh story in mind that simply works as a “reimagining” of a previous work, with some serious liberties taken. Voila: Art and commerce meet. The Times cites His Girl Friday. I’d even cite Land of the Lost — not as great art, but as an example of how much leeway you can take while still calling something a remake. If it had been, you know, good, that would’ve been even better. If sequels/reimaginings/remakes are bad, it’s because the creative forces behind them are simply lazy or misguided. Terminator: Salvation didn’t suck because it’s a Terminator movie; it sucked because the storytelling was messy and aimless.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Are remakes an unequivocally bad trend? And true confessions time: Which of the plethora of upcoming reboots actually have you a little excited?
Photo Credit: Pine: Zade Rosenthal; Bacon: Everett Collection