2015/11/18

Hollywood Is Just a Remake Machine

Hollywood is out of ideas. In fact, the studios' original thought well ran dry so long ago that pointing out their creative bankruptcy would be a cliche if not for the massive doses of cynicism and intersectional identity politics they've injected into their tedious remakes.

Here are just a few of the remakes, reboots (hard and soft), and reimaginings coming to a theater near you--whether you like it or not.


Point Break 2015
Point Break
Warner Bros.' remake of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 action-schlock classic has the earliest release date among the movies on this list (it's scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas Day). Not only is Point Break 2015 shaping up to be another second-rate retread helmed by lesser talent that is doomed to be forgotten the week after its release, It's giving the bank robbers a motive beyond pure thrill seeking: wealth redistribution.

This tacked-on motivation, inspired by Occupy Wall Street sympathies, is meant to elevate the film's social consciousness above the original's lowbrow guns and Xtreme sports thrills. What it's already done is indelibly date the remake in audiences' minds before it's even come out. We'll revisit this phenomenon later.


Memento
The clever independent film that introduced us to Christopher Nolan is now slated to be remade by AMBI Pictures.

I can't speak for the producers of the new Memento, but the only possible motives for remaking a film that relies so heavily on the reproduction of a magic trick we've already seen are greed, rashness, or ignorance.

There are only two outcomes here. We'll either get a pathetically dumbed-down detective flick, or a shot-for-shot clone as disconcerting as Gus Van Sant's Psycho.

Nolan is the kind of rare technical and stylistic virtuoso that Hollywood only sees once or twice in a generation. As with Bigelow, anyone attempting to remake his work is all but guaranteed to face a massive talent disparity. Upstarts are warned to proceed at their own risk.


Jumanji
Jumanji
File under: The Body's Not Even Cold!

Yep, the ghouls at Sony Pictures are planning a Jumanji remake. It's no exaggeration to say that the late, great Robin Williams saved this admittedly weak concept from its own banality. The question is, what will produce more nervous foot shuffling among already doubtful audiences: attempted erasure of Williams' past show-stealing performance, or posthumously Forrest Gump-ing him in?


Bautista
Highlander
This is a tough one, because there's only one remake on this list that I actually want to succeed more than Highlander.

The 1986 original epitomizes the kind of semi-schlocky, occasionally outright bizarre action movie that would never get made on its own merits today. And unlike a lot of cases, the original had some flaws (mostly involving production values) that a remake could conceivably improve upon.

Then there's the casting of Dave Bautista as the Kurgan. It's an intriguing choice, since Bautista is one of those Hollywood Cinderella men from outside the industry who lands a role out of the blue and turns out to have a gift for acting.

Even more impressively, Bautista realizes that he's been given a golden ticket for a magic carpet ride and is striving to make the most of it. He enrolled in acting classes, and if his performances in Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre are any indication, they're paying off in spades.

On the other hand, the new Highlander has had a rocky production that's been a revolving door for talent. With an unproven director currently attached, this remake might be riding on Bautista's mighty shoulders. Is he up to the challenge? We won't know till the movie hits theaters.


Ghostbusters 2016
Ghostbusters
What we have here is nothing less than a perfect storm combining all the worst mistakes of every remake on this list.

Tantalizing reports of a third Ghostbusters movie had been circulating for years. Mastermind Dan Aykroyd had, at various points, managed to get nearly all of the original cast and creative team back on board--with the crucial exception of Bill Murray.

Now, after being teased with the prospect of Ghostbusters 3 for almost a decade, fans have learned that we're not getting a sequel, but a reboot; directed not by Ivan Reitman, but Paul Feig; starring Tammy instead of Murray.

Let us count the flaws in this comedy of errors.

Unnecessary reboot: the original Ghostbusters is as close to perfection as a work of human hands can get. What's more, it's a perfect work of comedy--the most difficult genre to do competently, let alone perfectly. By definition, one cannot improve on perfection. Thus the remake is a cynical cash grab.

Intersectionalist virtue-signaling: Hollywood must be as insular and parochial as everyone says, because they are way behind the curve on the amount of identity politics that audiences will suffer to have shoved down their throats.

Despite Gamer Gate and Sad Puppies showing that people of all political stripes are sick and tired of social justice lectures, Narrative-advancing vehicles like Star Wars: Aftermath, Point Break, and now Ghostbusters prove that the message hasn't sunken in with our cultural elites.

Exhibit A: Ghostbusters director Paul Feig employing the first resort of SJWs whose opinions are challenged.
That's right, Ghostbusters fans. Paul Feig has served notice that if you dare criticize his heavy-handed feminist pandering, he will publicly label you a misogynist.

Note to Hollywood PR agents: if one of your tactics for getting people to shell out cash for your product can be likened to extortion, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

Exploiting the legacy of a beloved comedic genius hot on the heels of his death: Harold Ramis deserves even more credit for Ghostbusters than Robin Williams does for Jumanji. Unlike Williams, Ramis served as a co-writer whose contributions were instrumental to his project's success.
Those guys, Danny and Harold [Ramis], were at the top of their game [for the first movie]. They were burning nitro at that moment. Unless you have a really clear vision, you’re always trying to recreate that.
--Bill Murray 
When Ernie Hudson, the conscience of the original Ghostbusters, warns that a reboot is a bad idea, we'd all do well to listen. I throw the term around a lot, but the Ghostbusters reboot is looking to be an actual clown funeral--at least it won't be Ramis', whose sterling memory transcends cynical hacks' efforts to tarnish it.

Besides, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was already the Ghostbusters sequel we deserved, if not the sequel we need.


It'll Get Worse before It Gets Better
The argument has been made that, with American audiences already tiring of endless remakes, the death of this malignant trend is close at hand. Sadly, the diminishing importance of domestic audiences next to foreign markets hungry for anything starring an American A-lister means that Hollywood can keep cranking out derivative tripe until EVERYONE ON EARTH gets sick of it.

My advice: vote with your wallet. Just as with national elections, your entertainment choices have a negligible effect on our societal decline, but they're a chance to absolve yourself from cooperation with those who seek to tear down our culture.

2 comments:

  1. This must be why only Pixar and Marvel get my movie dollars these days with the occasional Nolan film squeezed in.

    We're a long way from the days of Terminator, Ghostbusters, Aliens, Highlander, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon, Blade Runner, and Die Hard. I'd say it's pretty clear that they're never coming back.

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  2. "I'd say it's pretty clear that they're never coming back."

    That's correct--as long as big studios call the shots.

    The entrepreneurs who fled Edison's monopoly for an obscure patch of Southern California desert where they could make the movies they wanted have long since become they tyrants they once rebelled against.

    Disintermediation offers hope, as it did with the music and publishing industries. On one hand, it's never been easier for a bunch of college kids to make a movie to 90s pro standards with a digital video camera and a copy of Final Cut. It's not uncommon for micro indies to get a hold of Red cams.

    On the other hand, this type of guerrilla film making isn't positioned to undercut cinema's gatekeepers like indie authors did with publishing. Hollywood could probably survive on foreign receipts alone, even if Americans stopped seeing their movies altogether.

    What we'll probably see is a truly independent indie film market (not those Sundance and Miramax scams) operating parallel to Hollywood. Even a shoestring film is far more expensive than writing a book. And while writers have Amazon, indie film makers don't have anything like it in terms of distribution.

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