This month marks an entire year since I put down what should have become the tick sheet used by any filmmakers contemplating a reboot or remake of an existing film.
Apparently they aren’t listening, as we have already seen new films announced and some already released in 2013, numbering in the dozens and with exactly TWO films that I would rate as worth tracking down, being The Amazing Spider-Man and Dredd, and neither were awe inspiring.
But there were several others that were much, much worse. Yes Total Recall I’m looking at you.
And where reboots and remakes are concerned Hollywood aren’t finished by a long shot. In the remainder of 2013 alone we have a slew of upcoming releases that have my spidey-senses tingling, from trepidatious (Spike Lee’s Oldboy) to moderately excited (Evil Dead this month) to… everything else (Short Circuit, Carrie, Robocop, Creepshow)
So if they are gonna keep making them, I might as well help my reader – the common stupid person – make informed decisions on which ones are at least worth your time. Again.
The Good – Reboots
Batman (The Christopher Nolan trilogy)
I don’t feel the need to say any more. Christopher Nolan took a genre and reinvented it from the bottom of the cape to the tip of the point ears. In doing so he single-handedly forced the industry to lift its game, meaning that while we still have to wade through a lot of super-hero themed crap, the highlights are better and the average output is of a higher quality.
If nothing else Nolan has ensured that no-one will bother rebooting the bat for at least a generation or more.
No point really.
Yeah I know this is allegedly a sequel, but I think three decades is enough between sequels to call it a reboot.
Like The Blob Piranha is stupid. Like The Blob it is fun, gory and puerile. Unlike The Blob it has more nudity than a celebrity sextape.
And by the way if last year’s Piranha 3DD could be classified as a reboot instead of a cheap cash-in sequel, I may have to invent another category beneath merely ‘Ugly’.
Younger movie watchers might mistakenly take Sam Jackson as the ‘mother-fucker’ guy, a man immediately identified as a profane glowering bald guy, instead of the coolest cat for the better part of the nineties.
The Shaft reboot arrived at the start of the next decade, and since that Mr Jackson (if you’re nasty) has been assigned only two recurring roles, Mace Windu from the Star Wars prequels, and Nick Fury from the Avengers series. Aside from that maybe Frozone is his coolest role (pardon the pun), and that was a cartoon.
The Good – Remakes
In spite of the poster which suggests this might be a scary gore-fest the 1988 remake of The Blob is in fact a fun flick with moments of inspired hilarity.
Featuring a young Kevin Dillon and an even younger Shawnee Smith, The Blob isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself and benefits from practical special effects and creative camera angles to heighten the sense of enjoyable silliness. I could watch The Blob again and again, and I often do.
If Zack Snyder has given us nothing else – and he hasn’t – it is the nasty, sincere and often brilliant remake of the George Romero classic. A film that in fact towers over the original.
Argue all you like over shuffling vs running, I’ll take fast moving and visceral over plodding and heavy-handed any day.
To be truthful I thought that neither the Infernal Affairs films nor the English language interpretation as incredible as others made them out to be.
Jack Nicholson’s hammy performance isn’t the only thing that strains credulity, how about two groups on opposite sides of the law with more information leaks than a colander and more rats than a KFC kitchen after dark?
But flawed logic aside the film was enjoyable and it is rare to see a cast with quality going this deep. It just should have been a ‘GREAT’ flick instead of the very good film it ended up.
And by the way can I be the only guy who finds Martin Scorcese an over-rated director? In my opinion he hasn’t made anything that sensational since Goodfellas, and I haven’t seen that in well over a decade so I might be all misty eyed over that.
In one paragraph I bag Scorcese, in the next I espouse an 80s comedy about con-men working the French Riviera. And I will apologise for neither.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is apparently a remake of a European film that I never saw and never will see. As long as there is a print of Steve Martin and Michael Caine running around being hilariously awful to each other and to society in general, I don’t need to.
The Ring is that rarest of commodities, the horror film that broke into mainstream consciousness and tapped into the over 30s demographic.
Despite a dopey premise – ghosts in video tapes with a telephone and apparently wi-fi streaming – director Gore Verbinski and a great cast headed by Naomi Watts make this film genuinely creepy, well paced and gripping from beginning to end…
Or at least until Samara strolls out of the TV, after that I stopped gripping and started sweating.
There was a time that John Carpenter was as hot as he has been cold for the past two decades. The Thing was smack dab in the middle of that era and is arguably his finest moment. A masterclass in paranoia and misdirection, with Kurt Russell the only known quantity in a cast full of potential ‘hosts’ for one of the nastiest and straight up freaky creatures this side of the Octomom.
While the insanely gonzo effects are what people are prone to talk about today, this film would rock even if you replaced them with modern day CGI…
… Actually there’s a film in the next category that kinda disputes that claim.
An Australian and an Englishman team up to make a film about the American West.
While the premise might be simple (escort a bad guy to a place by a time while other bad guys try to stop you) the acting is solid and the direction top notch.
Good westerns are like Rage Against the Machine albums, there aren’t many bona fide originals among the pretenders and wannabes, so when you get the chance to see/hear the real thing it all sounds shiny, new and impressive.
The (not) Bad – Reboots
Perhaps more than any other film in the ‘(not) bad’ section, Dredd is the superior of the two (or more) films to be made from the concept. It helps that the original was a Sylvester Stallone vehicle that Sly saw fit to adapt to his ego-fuelled needs – and that a certain Rob Schneider was there for ‘comic relief’.
The 2012 reboot sensibly cast a guy that you ‘know but don’t know’ in Karl Urban, and then mercifully – or mercilessly depending on your perspective – kept the tone jet black from start to finish.
Sure at heart Dredd is a cheesy dark B movie. But sometimes that’s a great place to be.
Having a smooth talking super-smart science type guy make an amazing discovery that instantly validates both his genius and his life, then have that same discovery crumble around him – along with his skin, tissue and everything else not previous insect-like was smart.
Having Jeff Goldblum as that same uber-confident guy was casting perfection.
Premise aside The Fly is not really that brilliant, but it has some awesome scenes and some even more awesomely gross effects.
Pass the Brundlefly spray, someone left a window open.
I love Jackie Chan too much to see him settle for old wise man roles, but while Karate Kid 2010 broke no new ground it stayed faithful enough to the original and picked the right Smith kid to step into Macchio’s karate shoes (that ‘Whip my hair’ bitch would have been a disaster!)
I guess the 20 somethings might have to brace themselves for Tony Jaa or Iko Uwais being Mr Miyagi 2035 – or Glenn from The Walking Dead…
Sure the guitar assassin scene sucked 17 varieties of arse, but the violence was all the way satisfying, and if you can conceive of a better ‘this guy needs a reason for going nuts’ reason than the one they chose please tell me.
Seemed a waste to have a genuine hottie in Rebecca Romjin and not have her step out of the shower for no reason – but you can’t have everything.
In reality I just like the Predator as a species. I think there should be more of them. I think they should be allowed to prey on the sick, the weak, and the braindead. I think they should be allowed to kidnap mercenaries, soldiers and morons with V-shaped torsos from all over the globe and give them a shot at the title – with the losers ending up as shiny-skulled trophies for the wall.
I could happily line up for a Predator film every few years without a second thought.
For some reason that all changes the very second someone decides to add an alien to the mix. That never seems to work out for anyone.
I wrote at the time that ‘Rise’ seems more like the prequel that inevitably follows the successful series that has reached an end – the entree to the main course. I really hope that the sequels justify this hunch with some real ‘meat’.
Still you could do a lot worse than watching monkeys gradually realise that they are superior to their human oppressors, especially when this reboot established Caesar as their hairy John Connor.
The (not) Bad – Remakes
To save time let me quote my 2011 review: “What follows is everything you expect from a film with Barbarian in the title. And more. Conan 2011 is violent, blood-soaked and action packed on a suitably large scale, with tough mono-syllabic talk, furrowed brows and heaving bosoms of all kinds.”
That means I fully acknowledge how dumb it is, but I liked it anyway – or perhaps because of it.
Paul W.S. Anderson might be the smartest man working in Hollywood. Now hear me out…
Anderson started strong with Event Horizon and the original Resident Evil, which only seems awful now because of its sequels.
That doesn’t make Anderson smart. Working out exactly how much effort goes into making a film profitable, despite critical and even audience reception, that’s what makes him smart.
It’s what makes us the audience suffer too, but Death Race found Anderson once again trying to please, as you can’t settle on a franchise no-one knows about. Of course there has already been a sequel released and another greenlit, both with Anderson’s fingerprints on it, no doubt padding his pockets with still more inferior products.
Remember, I never said ‘good’, I said smart. Homer Simpson would admire his ability to barely get by without effort.
At least this was fun, in fact more fun than the 1985 original. A lot of that is thanks to Colin Farrell who obviously just decided to go to town with the obviously nuttiness of the ‘vamp next door’, though points must also go to the Russell Brand wannabe magician who stole his share of scenes.
This won’t change your life, but it might make your evening.
You know those artists who forge the paintings of others and pass them off as replicas, or sometimes as the originals themselves? Sure they look just like the masterwork, but take a tenth the time and none of the inspiration to create. The biggest decision being what’s next to rip off.
That’s what Let Me In is. A faithful replica that brings nothing new to the table and if you were language-blind doesn’t look or sound remarkably different from the original.
Foe mine you can’t go wrong with either, but you would be more right with the original – because it is, after all, the original.
Wow. Two reboots on the same list. While John Carpenter reinvented the source material and hit paydirt with the special effects, the 2012 version simply replicated Johnny-boy’s work and lazily used CGI to juice up the beastie.
The film had a couple of moments which to be honest were lifted from Carpenter’s film, but it could have been much worse. As with everything in this mid-section it could of course have been a lot better too…
The Ugly – Reboots
It took a while before society voted with their feet and decided that Ryan Reynolds was in fact no big star.
It really only needed one glance at this god-awful mess to fast track the decision. One of those films that seemed at odds with itself, the film started patiently enough before scrapping any sense of tone and settling for a gothic gore-fest in the second half.
Perhaps if I point out that Michael Bay was intimately involved this will all make more sense?
Rob Zombie is a lot of things, and he is mediocre at all of them. Call me crazy but a willingness to go further doesn’t necessarily extrapolate to being a visionary or even good. The best thing you can say about Zombie’s Halloween reboot is that it adheres to a tone. The worst or should I say more accurate thing is that this tone is one of boredom.
One swallow doesn’t make a summer. A couple of gore scenes and some unpleasantness doesn’t make a decent horror film. Regardless of how many times you go back to the well.
The only film that inspired me to write poetry while reviewing it, reading my poorly scrawled words being possibly the only fate worse than watching this film.
Tim Burton sure went to town in creating the ape costumes and their environment. Unfortunately by the time all this was funded apparently the money left wasn’t enough to fund a script.
Look this could have been much worse, but no-one will watch this back to back with ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ and be left thirsting for more Wahlberg…
I’m calling this a reboot as it dramatically alters the tone of the previous Thomas Jane film – in all the wrong ways.
Egregiously so. The 2004 film was itself a reboot, and in reality hardly a classic, but it made Thomas Jane look like a star for 90 minutes, and John Travolta bearable for about half of that.
Surely that deserved a better follow up than a lazy wall-to-wall splatterfest that killed the career of Ray Stevenson?
The Ugly – Remakes
Ugly is really the only apt description for Martin Scorcese’s misguided and horribly dated vision of how a serial stalker might make a family’s life hell.
Robert De Niro embraced the concept of stupid over the top intensity, unfortunately this care and effort wasn’t put into making sure the film made a lick of sense, or being the least bit entertaining.
I don’t know much about the original 50s of The Day the Earth stood Still. I think it was initially seen as a shocking piece of work, then gradually saw public opinion go from thinking it 50s kitsch and eventually arc around to modern filmmakers citing it as an ahead of its time work, and an inspiration to many.
Here are the two things I know about the Keanu Reeves remake; 1 – it’s based upon the original and; 2 – it’s just terrible.
There were worse films in 2012, only The Cabin in the Woods and perhaps The Woman enraged me as much as this totally unnecessary effort from a man who should know better in David Fincher.
Fincher added sex where there was none needed, and a gritty industrial feel that felt equally forced and stylised. In essence he missed the point about what made the character of Lisbeth Salander so intriguing and worthwhile.
I hate to sound like a Mortal Kombat fan lamenting what some director had done to the ‘legacy and integrity of the material’, but I just thought that the Millennium Trilogy was smart and solid filmmaking that might connect with a Western audience.
Now there are English speaking idiots everywhere who think Lisbeth is a ‘totes down for it slut’…
I watched the 1984 Red Dawn a week or so before I caught the remake on DVD. I remember thinking that it was way better than I thought it would be, which given I only rated it 7 probably gives you a good idea of how bad I felt it might end up.
Then I watched the modern day version. And it was exactly how I thought the 1984 would turn out. Jingoism, annoying characters and unfathomable stupidity across the board.
I said it then and I’ll say it now; I cannot fathom how the same man who made Die Hard can also be responsible for this film. Quite often you will see a film universally panned and say ‘aw it ain’t that bad’. It happened with Hudson Hawk, it happened with John Carter…
…It didn’t happen with Rollerball. In fact for mine the critics didn’t go far enough.
Give Len Wiseman a camera and a dozen Victoria’s Secret models in full regalia and he’d have them do his taxes. A Len Wiseman film will have all the action you could ever want, but none of the sense of excitement and genuine thrills. He takes the joy out of everything he touches like a shitty reverse King Midas.
I’ll give the man credit for recognising what needs to be in his films, just not for knowing how best to utilise them.
Next he is rebooting The Mummy. That should be nice… *Cringe*
Notice a theme, rebooting horror isn’t as easy as you think. At least not well.
I genuinely believe there are films out there that warrant a remake or reboot, countless ones already in existence and foreign language films that might enjoy a new life in the English language.
One day someone will read my Rules or spend a quarter hour and come up with their own, but until someone sees sense – either the guys that make them or the morons like me who keep lining up to watch them – we are destined for many more years of disappointment.
Until they get it right I’ll keep putting the ‘boot’ into the worst reboots and making fun of the dud remakes.
Zombie fingers crossed for Evil Dead 2013.