What the $%@& is up with all the rehashing, Tinseltown?

Posted by · 10:27 am · June 4th, 2009

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total RecallDoesn’t it just feel like you’re Arnold over there lately, strapped into that chair and force-fed the disgusting mindwipe that is Hollywood product these days?

Patrick Goldstein has written a piece that touches on something that has been digging further and further under my skin the last couple of weeks: Hollywood’s disgusting rehashing of previous material.

It’s nothing new, of course,  Remakes and sequelitis have plagued the industry from its earliest days.  When it comes to economics and brass tacks, the fact is, these places are run by business-minded individuals who look to capitalize on public interest at every turn.  And in an economy such as this, it simply spells disaster for moviegoers who long for something new.  It doesn’t even have to be GOOD but FRESH would be appreciated.  But what’s rather sad is the fact that a number of the pipelined reboots, remakes and sequels have ties to projects that never lit up the box office to begin with, clearly lost touch with audiences over the years, or in some cases, never even found much interest on home video.  How does that math compute?

For some, it might seem like the oldest complaint in the book, but have you taken a look at what we have in store lately?  Just in the past few weeks a slew of titles have popped up either as newly announced projects or projects landing writers, directors, etc.  Do we really need a remake of “Total Recall” 19 years later?  Is America so deprived of the “Short Circuit” franchise that it needs a reboot as well (no doubt some weird capitalization on “WALL-E”)?  And a new “Scream” trilogy?  Really?

The “Alien” prequel and “Predators” project (a sequel) have glimmers of promise but they also represent franchises that need to die a quick and merciful death.  Ditto “Robocop,” also getting the reboot treatment.  Did the box office nose dive of “Terminator Salvation” not teach these people anything?  Fox needs to buy the “Terminator” rights (which will be on the market soon) and end it all for us with “Predaterminalien.”  Just get it over with.  Smothered in the night.  There are other stories, folks.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  I’m pretty sure that if no one showed up for “Red Dawn” in 1984, no one’s going to be banging down the door 25 or 30 years later.  Guy has already told you about the new “Hamlet” film, which can’t be faulted since classics will be revisited, but with that “talent?”  Tony Scott, in addition to grasping at straws with a new “Alien” stab, has a remake of Walter Hill’s “The Warriors” up his sleeve.  Despite decidedly lacking interest in 2004’s original film, Brad Silberling is talking about a sequel to “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”  Somehow making it stop motion, he seems to think, will make it appealing this time.

I’m sure you already know about the sure-to-be-tragic “Karate Kid” remake.  No comment is really necessary.  Obviously a “Wall Street” sequel would be pertinent, so I’m on board for that…for now.  But I don’t think anyone can see it as a lot more than a cash grab for a studio capitalizing on the fiscal environment. (Ironic, that.)  The creativity drought has even reached over to poor Danny Boyle, who seems happy sticking with Mumbai and “Maximum City” for one of his next films, thank you very much.  Counting on lightning striking twice, no doubt.  And of course there is the new “Clash of the Titans” film, which as “good fun” as it may turn out to be, still ranks right alongside these titles as totally unnecessary.

Nathaniel Rogers points out that while he likes a good superhero sequel as much as the next guy, it might be preferable to devote this woeful lack of innovation to revisiting films that were at least creatively compelling.  That won’t register for the money-conscious suits, which is fair enough, but I like that he’s dreaming.

All of this brings out my inner Lewis Black to the point that my stomach aches.  A certain dose of sequels and remakes is understandable and, for a guy with populist interest coursing through his veins to some extent such as me, welcome.  But this is overkill.  Beyond the overwhelming numbers, it’s also the choice of product.  “Total Recall?”  Really?

I talked to Francis Ford Coppola two days ago about his latest film, “Tetro.”  The movie is a failure, though not as drastically so as “Youth Without Youth.”  He told me he’s now having the career he wanted to have when he started this business in the early 1970s.  It took him nearly 40 years to get here.  He clawed himself out of debt with a number of the questionable creative decisions he’s made over the years and now has total creative freedom to explore the absurd and poignant alike.

And you know what?  I’m confident he’ll give us at least one more masterpiece from this new phase of his career because he has the room to explore those possibilities.  He also has the luxry to do so.  In a creatively sapped environment such as the one detailed above, I don’t know how any intrepid young (smart) filmmakers can feel passionate or, certainly, positive about the trajectory of this business.  This is not an environment that breeds profundity.

Ease up on the throttle, Hollywood.  You’re murdering your darlings.

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19 responses so far

  • 1 6-04-2009 at 10:45 am

    BobMcBob said...

    it seems there’s an Arnold love-fest going on and all of his old movies are being remade

  • 2 6-04-2009 at 11:00 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Yeah all of it irritates me as well. I can’t tell you how happy I am with films such as Sunshine and Kingdom of Heaven. More of that please! Anyhow, here’s what I’d really like:

    Not really clash of the Titans, but a series of films about the ancient Greek gods hard R with all the many sex they had and the brutal violence. Get one “old man” (Jack, Morgan, Strathairn, Bowie etc.) for each film and play one big god or deity of some kind. Oh and I would like to see Tripoli as well, thank you.
    Or make another Star Trek series. Someone. Please. Entertain me.

  • 3 6-04-2009 at 11:10 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    They’re remaking the wrong Paul Verhoeven movies — the Basic Instinct sequel, this new Total Recall, another freakin’ Robocop as if anyone under 25 cares about Robocop!

  • 4 6-04-2009 at 11:15 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Who cares? You can always vote with your wallets people. And it’s not like The Karate Kid or Short Circuit are good films so what reputation is there to tarnish?

  • 5 6-04-2009 at 11:16 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Who said anything about the remakes being of good films?

  • 6 6-04-2009 at 11:29 am

    brian said...

    I like Total Recall. I think it’s pretty great, actually. I wouldn’t say it needs to be remade, but a diatribe on remakes doesn’t mean you have to rag on the solid original flick.

  • 7 6-04-2009 at 11:53 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    A) It’s actually a pretty bad movie, but one I love for reminiscence. So yeah, I’ll rag on if I want. That said…

    B) I didn’t rag on it. I just think it’s a silly choice for a remake. It has a viable place in pop culture and remaking it is just…strange.

  • 8 6-04-2009 at 12:09 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    The bottom line is that Hollywood thinks moviegoers are brainless. They will see almost anything with the slightest degree of familiarity.

    Moviegoers continually prove them right so get mad at them not the studios.

  • 9 6-04-2009 at 12:10 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    It’s a market-driven business. Whatever we go see, will form the basis for what gets made.

  • 10 6-04-2009 at 12:16 pm

    Nigel said...

    Some of my favourite why the hell did they remake this films:

    The Wicker Man, does anybody outside of cult film fanatics know about this film, what value does it’s title have, and the story isn’t particularly marketable at all.

    Black Christmas, the story about a maniac terrorizing a bunch of soriority girls. Such a unique premise, I’m sure there were no other scripts floating around out there that satisified those details.

  • 11 6-04-2009 at 12:47 pm

    Jake said...

    Blame Christopher Nolan ;)

  • 12 6-04-2009 at 12:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Chad: Like I said, many of these projects make no sense based on that logic. Red Dawn? Who the hell even saw that film in the 80s?

  • 13 6-04-2009 at 12:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Jake: Too true.

  • 14 6-04-2009 at 1:13 pm

    red_wine said...

    Some franchises are so recent they amaze me that they even qualify for remakes. There’s talk of Superman reboot(the last 1 came 3 years ago), Lara Craft reboot(4 years ago), Buffy reboot(4-5 years ago). And Marvel wants to possibly have a franchise for every comic book character ever written.

  • 15 6-04-2009 at 1:33 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Superman needs the reboot it deserved in 2006. That extension of the old films wasn’t exactly a new direction so it would work, I think, if someone thought long and hard about it.

    There’s a Lara Croft reboot? Jesus.

  • 16 6-04-2009 at 2:55 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Yeah Megan Fox is up for Lara this time around. Jeez go figure.

    Anyhow, the public = stupid. Period. Just look at Rottentomatoes every week.

    The Average Joe doesn’t care about what the critics say, we do. However I hear many people complain there’s so many remakes as well, including those that aren’t movie buffs, yet everything is still popular. That is such a weird phenomenon, are people EVER going to get really tired of it or do they just say that for fun?

  • 17 6-04-2009 at 3:44 pm

    Ash said...

    I guess everyone figures they could be the next Batman or Star Trek?

  • 18 6-04-2009 at 3:47 pm

    A.J said...

    A new Scream trilogy is a bit much, but just a 4th movie seems oddly appropriate. The films are all about making fun of hollywood/horror films. Hollywood is going through this unnecessary much later sequel/reboot phase and a 4th film could make fun of that.

  • 19 6-04-2009 at 4:39 pm

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    I don’t mind remakes as long as the new film takes the basic concept and does something different with it. While I love George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, I really enjoyed Zach Snyders re-imagining. It was the same premise but very different.
    Why don’t studio’s remaster and re-release there older popular films into theaters. I could easily see Universal making 50 million of a Back to the Future 25 year annivesary re-release in 2010. Seeing old favorites back on the big screen is great. I took a trip into NYC and saw my all time favorite film The Poseidon Adventure on the big screen in Jan at the Chelsea on 23rd st. It was a GREAT time great and memory. Thats an untapped market that I would use if I ran a studio. It worked for Star Wars.