Great Debate #2: Do Remakes Suck?
One of the most debated topics today is the whole idea of remakes. I think what most people have a problem with is that most remakes are done to cash-in on the name recognition of their predecessor, foregoing any originality whatsoever. An example of a this is the unnecessary remake The Fog or The Planet of the Apes in 2001, directed by Tim Burton. Many of the worst remakes try too hard or reinvent things that otherwise were fine to begin with, such as the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake with Johnny Depp.
And perhaps the most notorious remakes try to “modernize” tales that were classic to begin with, such as the Halloween 2009 remake or the Keanu Reeves film The Day the Earth Stood Still. I’m not sure if I can say all remakes are bad, but we’ve certainly reached remake overload. So it’s a genre now, or at least a sub-genre, and with that comes good and bad. While there are bad sides of every genre, a bad remake gets raked over the coals even more because there is a past reputation to consider.
Now when you remake something like Herbie or The Thomas Crown Affair that has very little reputation and causes no waves, people don’t go nuts. But for some reason, people go crazy when Hollywood remakes films people really care about, were big successes, or had long-lasting impacts on film, like Robocop or Planet of the Apes. And in that case, the remake is doomed if it is bad, but not so bad if it is better than average, like the 2014 Robocop. In the rare case, some remakes improve upon their original concept, like the Thomas Crown Affair remake, but I can’t think of any other. Can you? That must be a rare achievement.
I think the goal of any remake should be to bring something new to their audience, but still deliver a familiar concept, otherwise there’s really no point. This is what 2001’s Ocean’s 11 did. I like the original Ocean’s 11, starring Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, but I like the George Clooney version too. Is that wrong? So I can’t pan all remakes, that’s for sure. But when it is a shot-for-shot remake, I just don’t get it. I guess it’s a cash in. I think remakes are beginning to get a bad reputation as a whole because of all the failures that have come in the past. So that’ s a hurdle right there. At this point, it might be easier and more accepted to do something original, even if it’s not so good.
I guess we’re stuck with remakes, but they certainly are a stupid cash-in and a lazy way to make a buck. Can’t Hollywood do anything original anymore? Even when you classify things as a “reboot” instead of a “remake” like The Pink Panther or Star Trek, it’s still reliant on name recognition. They used to remake/reboot horror movies all the time until the movie business saw that remakes could be successful, so they decided to use more familiar material.
What it comes down to is that remakes seem to be a comment on today’s society. People like familiar. People like successful brands. They don’t mind paying to see these things, so they keep getting made. I think also that sequels are becoming less and less successful and spotty in quality, therefore remakes or even reboots are becoming easier to make and more successful.
Anyway, remakes are here to stay and I’m not sure if we’ll ever run out of material to remake, reboot, or otherwise crap on in a modernization attempt. I’d rather not even see bad remakes, but I’m not sure if anyone can predict the success of a remake anymore. No one plans to make a bad movie. I think so, at least. Hopefully, remakes can deliver something worth seeing because that’s what it comes down to.