Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thoughts on... Movie Remakes

In the immediate wake of the release of the remake of one my favorite horror movies, A Nightmare On Elm Street, I started thinking about my attitudes toward movie remakes. I tend to be in a minority in this topic mostly because no matter how much I'm into a movie, I'm always open to the idea of a remake.

Take the Nightmare remake for example. Nostalgia aside, the original Nightmare on Elm St was a landmark release in the horror genre. In a time when most horror was about supernatural monsters and demons, Nightmare came along and gave you an entirely new beast, a supernatural monster that was just a normal guy, attacking you in an entirely new arena, your dreams. The concept broke ground, and gathered a strong faithful audience. They made more movies, & tV series, but time passed.

And with the passing of time, film-making techniques became more advanced, enhanced technology allowed for alternate worlds to be presented in near photo-realistic quality. At the time Nightmare was released, movies on the scale of Avatar or the new Clash of The Titans just weren't POSSIBLE to make properly. I don't know about you, but in an era of technological brilliance, I always look back and wonder what my favorites of yesterday would look like if they had been made with the same care & genius as before, but with access to today's technology. The answer to that question is simple: they'd be FUCKING AWESOME!!!

The trick, in re-creating a film is to tap in to the well that made the original great, while at the same time updating the little bits, gags, and tropes that have not withstood the test of time. And that's where most remakes fail. The people making the new version seem to think that just the name and re-iterating the same shots and dialogue will make for another success, or that dumbing the concepts down will make it more appealing to audiences. And they fail, time & time again.

For example, Ocean's Eleven (with George Clooney) was a remake of a low-rent Rat Pack film. (If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say Rat Pack, look it up!) The makers of the new version, took the main concepts of the original movie: a man using a theft to flirt with his wife & everyone fantasizes about getting one over on a Las Vegas casino, and updated all the rest. They gave the casino a personal face (Benedict wasn't in the original movie) and other such modernizations. The result was a much more engaging and intricate film than the original.

Basically, if a remake is being done, don't start hating on the idea right away. Check out who's making it, and if they do good work, give them the benefit of the doubt. They might pull off a great movie. I have a great deal of hope that they don't screw up the new Nightmare movie. This particular remake is of a film that enjoy a great deal. The people making the movie have some good stuff under their belts. And they picked a solid guy for Freddy Krueger. Yes, it could turn out to be a royal suckfest, but the potential for a fantastic new take is enough for me to check it out.

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