Sometimes it seems like there are no new ideas in Hollywood, that every story has already been told, retold, and revisited. Some examples of movie remakes include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, King Kong, Ocean's Eleven, Sabrina, and War of the Worlds, to name just a few. This doesn't even begin to touch on movies that were popular enough to produce sequels, prequels, reboots, re-imaginings, or a series, like Star Wars or the growing collection of Batman movies.
I'm not anti-remake as a rule, in fact I think sometimes a movie remake can be better than the original. Being inspired from the old does present certain challenges, however, especially if the source movie is well-known and well-loved. Then the new movie is bound to be closely scrutinized to see how it measures up to the original. For this reason, classic movies are often a great source for remake material, since oftentimes the older version has been all but forgotten or can easily be changed to be made more current.
There's been some buzz about a few movies lately that I'm definitely interested in based on the source material. So here's my thoughts on some upcoming sci-fi movies borrowing from some old ideas:
Star Trek XI (or Star Trek Zero)
Cons: It's a prequel. I don't get the fascination with prequels. (I'm talking to you, George Lucas.) Fans can be cruel when characters/plots set in an earlier time don't match up with what has already been established. Plus, it's pretty impossible to make things look truly older, given the quality of newer special effects. Didn't we see that in Enterprise?
Also against it: this is an odd-numbered Trek film, for those of you that believe in that curse.
Pros: It's Star Trek! Leonard Nimoy is playing Old Spock.
Verdict: I'm a Star Trek fan, but I've never been really attached to the original series, so I probably wouldn't even notice small deviations. It might be predictable and a desperate attempt to keep the Star Trek franchise going, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
Cons: First of all, let's talk about numbers being used as letters. This is no longer clever (and perhaps never was). It's just strange, and in this case, confusing. Are we supposed to read it as Trzn? That looks like it should be the title for an updated Tarzan movie. Why not say Tron 2, or Tron 2.0 or even The Second Coming of Tron? This choice alone scares me a great deal.
Pros: Jeff Bridges is all gung-ho about it, and is returning to play Flynn.
Verdict: The original Tron was great because it was so different. The style and idea of it -- there's nothing quite like it. Will the new special effects capture the old feeling of wonder? Is it a retelling of the old, a new updated story, or a sequel? Will Brue Boxleitner return as well? I'm curious, but feeling afraid for this one.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Cons: Keanu Reeves. I'm sorry, Keanu fans, but his inherent dopey-ness makes it hard for me to take him seriously.
Pros: Mad Men's Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly are in it. The original is great.
Verdict: Updated special effects might actually enhance the story, if they don't take over. And a message of peace is always welcome. I'm excited about this one.
Will these films fail spectacularly, or join the list of successful remakes? Only time will tell. But now's your chance to weigh in with your opinions, if only so you can say "I told you so!" later.
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