Monday, 24 March 2008

FUN & GAMES: The Remake Game

Michael Caine is alleged to have said that Hollywood shouldn't remake classics, but failures.

He has a point.

How many times have you seen a movie that had a kernel of a good idea that was sadly trapped in a big steaming pile of cinematic feces?

So here's the game: Pick a film that should be remade. One that had a clever concept, but a poor execution. Detail as much about this project as you like: stars, director, writer, whatever you thinks will make the story work.


  1. Beowulf. Good idea -- a classic story of Western heroism, largely forgotten, buried under moral relativism, PC, and a blackening of the hero into an anti hero.

    The whole point of Beowulf is that he is a hero. Virtuous, kind, self-sacrificing. The kind of King that Westerners wanted. He is not a blowhard. He does not create monsters. [The Thirteenth Warrior was written by Chrichton as an updating of Beowulf.]

    Sunset. The cast was great, and Garner and Willis are always great, as was the Chaplin-esque villain by great screen villain Malcolm McDowell. But the opportunity to use (ala the Limey) footage from Garner's Hour of the Gun where he also played (much younger) Wyatt Earp was lost. The plot meandered all over the place, and the film forgot the essential of Wyatt Earp. He might have been an old man, but he was TOUGH. A guy who legitimately killed people, a number of them, face-to-face in shootouts but was not a raging psychopath like Hardin or Bonney. Garner did not play his character tough enough. Too much Jim Rockford. The whole concept was that in a "soft" 1920's era of gangsters, here was this relic of the old West still alive to show em how tough guys really played it. [Too many villains made things muddled also.]

    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sean Connery? Thirty years ago that would have been a can't miss film. He was too old and too set in bad acting ways (phoning in parts). The idea of a Victorian Justice League was awesome, but suffered from Connery's poor lead, the gal from La Femme Nikita being a mediocre actress, too many characters, and the addition of "Huck Finn" and emphasis on elaborate sets in place of emotional checkpoints in the story.

    Van Helsing. This would be my candidate to remake. The core idea, a monster-fighter in the late Victorian era who uses science and technology along with his own heroism to fight monsters was sound. I'd add to it the central riff that James Woods brought to Carpenter's Vampires -- that the monster hunter can be scarier than the monster because the hunter can think like a man and act with both a terrifying will and heroically.

    Van Helsing really blew. "Ex-Man" Hugh Jackman did a poor job, Kate Beckinsale a worse one, and there were too many villains, stupid plot points, and the hero degenerated into another super-being negating the whole point of the movie -- he's just human up against the monsters. Worst of all I expected to see the hero triumph and get the girl, a whole big scene where she's in jeapordy and saved, and then a few minutes later the hero as werewolf kills her.

    DUMB DUMB DUMB. I HATE being manipulated. Deliver the story straight up, no chaser. Don't get post-modern clever on me to show me how cute and funny you are. You're not Larry David and this ain't Seinfeld. Which is about the only place I'll tolerate it. That part alone, killing off the heroine in an off-scene after we're on tenterhooks with her battle with the vampires is big load of dung.

    But the essential concept -- man with no superpowers fights on near-even terms with vampires and monsters and is FEARED by them, is a good one.

    The Punisher. I love the character. But he works best IMHO contrasted with other heroes by doing things they won't. Not just killing though that's part of it, but his willingness to do things like scrounge through a sewer for days on end to bug an enemy, or set groups against each other, or stalk an enemy like a SUPERVILLAIN. It's why both the supervillains and superheros are afraid of him. He acts much like a supervillain but DOES have limits he won't cross. He also belongs in NYC not Tampa FL.

    I'd make a Punisher-Daredevil film. Daredevil worked in the Director's cut because the politics of super-heroing, i.e. the role of Daredevil as the defender of the helpless in Hell's Kitchen opposing the Kingpin were sound. And the two opposing heroes in this mode are more interesting than in "War" the dumb movie with Jason Statham and Jet Li. Both Daredevil and the Punisher are Catholic NYC people. But one has marginal superpowers, lives according to many rules chief of which he never kills, and has a secret identity. The other is a wanted criminal, has almost no rules, no superpowers, only his terrible, frightening will as a soldier in a war that never ends.

    The two characters exemplify the debate over crime that has always existed in America: the vigilante with no limits, and the semi-vigilante with some limits.

    The basic concept of two heroes in opposition to each other, forced to cooperate in limited circumstances, works if the audience can sympathize with both heroes points of view, and identify clearly the uniqueness of both heroes. I don't think each character works on his own, but using the "War" framing method could work together.

    Affleck was an OK Daredevil, but Jane sucked as Frank Castle. You'd need a genuine tough guy for that role. Physique is not enough, the ability to project Marine combat toughness is required.

  2. I'd do a remake of the recent flick called "No Country for Old Farts" and stay True to all the characters. No pulling the stinking wool over the audience's head by pulling that lame ass ending and concluding it with a couple of old geezers whining about the horrid destruction of the Country I Love.

    Final Fantasy: I'd mine the vast wealth of lore already generated by this name instead of cooking up some Science Speculation junk. It'll be the next Lord of the Rings in drama, adventure and beauty.

    Indy 3(Or as I would rename it -Cursade- the Adventures of Indian Jones): Harrison Ford would be the only actor brought back as an aged adventurer following the many trails of the Holy Grail based on his Deceased father's research only brought up in flash backs like in the vein of Tomb Raiders.

    Star Wars: The Adventure of Luke Skywalker (The original title to the book -good luck in finding that!-) that delved into the history of the many Dark Lords of the Sith, because there where so many more of them then just one asthmatic thing in a dark suit.

    Aliens Vs. Predators: Once again, going back to many of the original comic book writers that have written about this conflict, rather then having it happen under a mile of ice or in the backwoods of Canada from where the second was filmed.. and for that matter...

    Alien 3: Where Sigorney Weaver and the other survivors on the Sulaco are intercepted by the Company on their way back home and brought back to harvest the rest of the eggs on the alien derelict. The heroes return to earth and the eggs become ALIENS on Earth as the first teaser teased and a Space station is destroyed and on Earth hundreds of cities are nuked and the heroes once again get stuck on a ship fleeing to the outer colonies as they watch Mother Gaia light a Nuclear fire works as a send off for them. THE END

    Starship Troopers: Done by Heinlein and Only Heinlein. The movie would then become a staple in the school's history course everywhere.

    Laurence of Arabia...
    Who the hell am I kidding?! Would Not touch that wonderful movie ever!

  3. Ray Stephenson from "Rome" & "Babylon Fields" is taking over for Thomas Jane in the upcoming "Punisher" sequel. I hear from a friend who's in it that it's much better than the 1st. So is Stephenson.

  4. Wild Rebels: The final scene was a great concept: Three crazy, drugged-out bikers (and the girl who hangs out with them) rob a bank, then recruit a drag racer (at gunpoint) to be their getaway driver when the police show up. Unfortunately, the execution of the concept was (like everything leading up to this point in the film) absolutely terrible.

    Made a great episode of MST3K, though.