Why film remakes are more 'in' than ever
With names like The Magnificent Seven and Blair Witch in cinemas, it makes you truly wonder, “what year is it?”. Sure, studios have been making remakes for longer than we can remember and, if this year is anything to go by, that’s not about to change any time soon. So why is it, that directors are so willing to board the metaphorical remake train? Here are a few thoughts on the topic:
Nostalgia: Ah nostalgia, a testament to the “good ol’ days” no matter how bad, cheesy or downright ridiculous an idea can be, when viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia it instantly becomes a timeless masterpiece with insurmountable charm even though you swear by objectivity gods. Nostalgia isn’t always bad though. Cult classic The Planet of the Apes is widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece and looking back at its cultural significance it reminded us that nuking each other into oblivion is dangerous stuff (a theme which is more than relevant today).
Risk-free: We are told cinema is a medium in which an individual can tell their story from a new perspective and to shape the cultural landscape of contemporary filmmaking, whatever that means. Some filmmakers (we’d argue a lot of them) look to the silver screen not only through the pretentious chin-rubbing monocle but through the number of zeroes on that sweet cheque and can we blame them? When Martin Scorsese decided to take on The Departed - a remake of Hong Kong film Internal Affairs - it blew up at the box office hitting a ridiculous sum $290 million, surpassing the original tenfold.
Unfulfilled potential: Sure there are good and bad films but sometimes you can’t help but feel that some ideas where ahead of their time or rather ahead of the current. We feel director Kurt Neuman’s adaptation of The Fly would have been miles more successful had he been born a few decades down the line. The film about a scientist who accidentally swaps heads with a housefly, although freakishly scary as a concept, you can’t help but let a chuckle when you’ve seen how badly it’s aged. Thankfully we have the ’86 remake which still warrants a shudder today.
Unique Perspective: Occasionally a remake doesn’t merely update the original but take gives a unique twist in the hopes of making it refreshing for newcomers to the franchise, provided your own fans don’t hate you for it. Back in 2014, many eyebrows had been raised at the thought of a remake of the much loved cult icon, Ghostbusters. Those very eyebrows were raised a tad higher when director Paul Fein announced that the film would highlight an all-female cast. The reception was split. Many sceptics took to twitter to bash the remake’s casting choices, claiming it was pushing a feminist agenda (we’ve yet to figure out how).
All said and done, we can’t really hate a good reboot provided it’s done right. Our eyes will be on the Ben-Hur watching closely for the inclusion of a particular watch-wearing-chariot-racer. Who knows it might it even a smart watch. But it begs the question ... Samsung or Apple?
THE GOOD: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Although the ’56 original is pretty solid it’s no match for Philip Kaufmann’s reiteration which even by today’s standard is pretty beastly. Hitting the $24 million mark, the film is an icon in the science fiction horror genre and is even regarded as one of the best remakes of all time.
THE BAD: The Karate Kid (2010)
As much as we love Jackie Chan, we can’t help but feel his portrayal of Mr. Han isn’t quite on par with old-timer Morita-san. Mr. Miyagi’s calm demeanour and his wise elderly “aura” when compared to the vulnerable Mr. Han, it shatters our image of this spiritual infallible karate master. Oh and it doesn’t help that he teaches Kung Fu.