The topic of remakes always gets people wound up pretty tight. Yesterday this issue came up again with the announcement that New Line is about to launch a project to remake the Asian masterpiece “Battle Royale”.
Most people seem to take a really negative stance when it comes to the concept of remakes. The objections I see most often are:
1) They can’t do it as good as the original
2) Isn’t there any creativity left?
3) Why mess with a great film (if it’s a great film we’re talking about)
These are all fair and understandable objections. After all, it’s not hard to come up with a list of remakes off the top of your head that were horrible. Why just in the last couple of years we’ve been subjected to Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard, Godzilla, Dark Water, The Bad News Bears… on and on.
But wait a minute… there are some exceptional remakes out there as well. Who on earth is going to say they wished they left “Scarface” alone after the 1932 original? It turned out to be one of the 100 best films of all time!
Who is going to say they wished they left “The Lord of the Rings” alone after the 1978 animated version? (By the way, a little trivia here for you. Did you know that Anthony Daniels, the immortal voice of C3PO in Star Wars is the voice of Legolas in the 1978 version?)
Yes Virginia, remakes can be a good thing.
Personally I don’t mind the idea of remakes for a couple of reasons:
1) It can expose a whole new audience to a great story that they would never otherwise have seen. This is especially true of great Asian films. A sad truth is that most North Americans don’t like watching foreign films, and thus some fantastic films and stories are lost to them. However, remake it into an English version, and they’ll give the story a shot. THIS IS WHY JUST RE-RELEASING AN ASIAN FILM IN NORTH AMERICAN MARKETS DOESN’T WORK AS WELL. Films like Crouching Tiger are the exception that proves the rule.
2) It gives us a chance to see things updated, either in terms of time, or effects. I LOVED the film Scrooged with Bill Murray. Besides the fact that it was hilarious, it let me see the classic Christams story in a more modern context. Or take King Kong for example. Being able to see the King of the Apes fighting T-Rexes and rampaging through a city was amazing!
3) It’s a no lose situation. In the world of sequels, a bad follow up film can also negatively effect how we view and enjoy the first one (ie. the newest Star Wars films). But remakes don’t have that stigma attached to them. No fan of the Dukes of Hazzard TV show had their enjoyment hurt in the least by the crappy film version. No Godzilla fan thinks any less of all those great films just because the remake was monumentally horrible.
4) It’s not a lack of creativity. Many people (understandably so) will often lament when they hear about another remake “Isn’t there any creativity left in Hollywood”??? That’s a fair lamentation. However, even though there are more remakes being made today, you have to keep in mind that since 1996, the amount of films being produced every year has almost tripled! From just over 200 major releases to almost 600 this year!!! That’s a LOT of film. Adaptation of films from other sources (be they books, other movies, TV shows, comics) has always been around and represented a certain percentage of the films being produced in any given year. I’d say that percentage is still probably about the same… there are just much bigger numbers these days.
When asking “Is remaking (insert name of movie here) a good idea?” I think there are a couple of questions to ask:
1) Have most people today seen the original? What’s the point in doing a remake if almost everyone has seen the original? Ask the question again in 10 Years (this is why a Star Wars remake is pointless)
2) Is it a story worth telling. Ok, after establishing if people have seen the original or not, you then have to ask if the story in the original is worth telling.
3) Would people be interested in this? Basically a question every film, remake or not, should ask.
So to me, if a movie has a good story, that most people haven’t seen and would otherwise be interested in it… then I say give a remake a shot. What is there to lose? Nothing.
I’m not “PRO” remakes. I’m neutral. Lots of remakes are bad… but some are great.
Lots of people have very understandable reasons why the idea of remakes make them nervous. That’s totally fair. But as for me, why not?
What are your thoughts?