Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Remakes Etc.

If you check out this story at Yahoo, you'll see there is now a filmic adaptation of the beloved Voltron: Defender of the Universe in the same pipeline as The Transformers movie. Apparently, originality is so completely dead in Hollywood that lame cartoons from the 1980's are the next frontier for big-budget films. God help us all if someone should discover Robotech.

For the record, I grew up on Voltron, Starblazers to a degree, and more importantly, The Transformers. There was a rumor on AICN this morning about the current fallout behind the scenes on The Transformers courtesy of possible-director Michael Bay's latest film, The Island, rolling over and dying at the box office, but it looks like it's been pulled. The story on AICN, I mean. Expect The Island to be yanked off-stage shortly. I'm honestly puzzled why it's shown up DOA in theaters, because it looks like a fun movie. Say what you will about Bay's penchant for explosions over exposition, he always gets great performances out of his actors, save Affleck. Hell, he even showed that Josh Hartnett can emote more than "morose" or "happy" along with reigning in Cuba Gooding, Jr. at the same time. For that alone he deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award.

In short, the story said there was dissention in the ranks behind the scenes over The Island flopping. Bay was in line to direct The Transformers and now he may have to pull out. Personally, I think he's perfect for the roll. This is a man who fetishizes cars, explosions, and Americana to the point of eroticism, and he does it with a twinkle in his eye and song in his heart. He's perfect for The Transformers movie. Rumors of a script being completed are just that at this point. The video circling the 'net showing off Spielberg talking about his love of the toys ends with the logo and the date of July 4, 2007.

That's a throw-down to everyone else in the industry that says only one thing: Move, or be moved, because that date is ours.

I'm growing weary of the remake/raping the childhood trend ravaging Hollywood at the moment. Some of the movies being remade are barely 20 years old. There should be a rule that no film can be remade until it hits the magic 50 year mark. This year we've seen War of the Worlds, the upcoming Bad News Bears, and cap it with King Kong. And those are just the biggest three. I can appreciate the need to go with "familiar" territory, but in no way, shape, or form do either Bad News Bears or King Kong need to be re-done. There is literally nothing new to be gained from this, nothing at all. Peter Jackson's argument on Kong is that it's his own take on it, and he's wanted to retell that story since he first saw it. Fine, Peter, I get that. So why not come up with something similar (a beauty&the beast love story involving a monster) and call it "new"? And the trailer did nothing for me, even in the theater. Completely unnecessary film, when you should be working on wrenching the rights to The Hobbit from whomever owns them.

And what is the world coming to when I see a large-scale remake of War of the Worlds directed by Steven Spielberg, and it sucks? I mean it was start-to-finish awful. I had to come home and watch Jaws just to get the taste out of my mouth. The marketing campaign was brilliant because it was simple, and never showed you the aliens. To be fair, the tripods and the aliens both are scary, genuinely so. The problem is the film if focused on three assholes who try to survive an alien invasion, and none of them warrant your sympathies to start with, and actually manage to lose your good faith the further along it goes. Tom Cruise is simply terrible as the "bad dad" cliche, and he manages to get worse the more he's on screen. If you're going to make a story about the end of the world, here's a tip Steven: Bad things that happen to nice people = high quality drama.

At no point did I care about some man-child asshat from Queens who runs from aliens with his equally asshat teenage son and his brat daughter, then tries to find his pregnant ex-newly-re-married-wife because... why? His son accuses him of wanting to find her and drop the kids with her, and even after it's over I thought, "Yup, that's about right." Spielberg loves broken families sort-of being healed through extrordinary circumstances, but good God does he mangle it here. The only highlights belong to the tripods, and when they show up the film leaps to life. Spielberg can truly burn images into our minds like the fury of God, and he does so here with the tripod attacks, the burning train, and the clothes floating down from the sky. But then he focuses on three asshats on the run, and the film dies again. Couple all of this with a disappointing score from John Williams (moreso after his phenomenally powerful "Revenge of the Sith" score) and War of the Worlds is a massive disappointment.

So what did that rant have to do with remakes? That Hollywood needs to tread carefully and remember that even if the movie worked the first time, there's no guarantee it will work the second time. Or the third. Or fourth...

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