So it's Tuesday.
You know what that means and you get two rants for the price of one!
Let me start my rants with movie remakes.
It all started with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," the Swedish one, the ORIGINAL one, a movie from a book written in SWEDISH which starred an unknown but really good actress who has been able to make the transition from Swedish films to international stardom: Noomi Rapace.
The movie was stunning, and yes, you had to read subtitles, but it was a fantastic film. So when I heard we were making an American version, I couldn't understand it.
But then that's the main issue when it comes to remakes. It is assumed that Americans don't like reading subtitles, and dubbing, well dubbing is awful. When those lips don't match the words, you feel like you are going crazy.
However, I don't mind reading subtitles, and I like to see a film with the actors speaking their own lines, even if it's in another language and I have to read subtitles. I have been going to see foreign films with subtitles ever since I was 16 or so and would talk my way into the 18+ and over art houses. Art Houses, you know those movie theatres where "adult" films were relegated back in the day, because Middle America felt it needed to protect young minds from naked breasts and buns. I didn't go because of the nudity, I went because my young mind wanted to be transported out of Middle America to learn about the world. Back in the 60's, there was a movie-making revolution going on in Europe, and I was already appreciating the quality of those films.
When a movie is remade, especially when it's a remake of a foreign film, often the remake is not as good as the original foreign film and is merely a vehicle to feature an American actor or actress. It's given "The Hollywood Treatment" and often the original intent and flavor of the film is lost. Unfortunately, you may never know the difference, because you probably wouldn't have seen the original because you didn't want to read those damn subtitles. You just don't know what you are missing.
Our stealing...er, appropriating films from other countries is not new. We have been doing it for years, movies and TV. Some of your favorite TV shows did not start here in the U.S. "Survivor (Sweden)," "Big Brother (Netherlands)," "All in the Family (U.K.)," "Sanford and Son (U.K.)," "American Idol (U.K.)," "America's Funniest Home Videos (Japan), "Dancing with the Stars (U.K.)," "Deal or No Deal (Netherlands)" "Jane the Virgin (Venezuela), "Ugly Betty (Colombia), "Shark Tank (Japan)"...I could go on and on.
Why can't we come up with our own original ideas these days?
Which leads to my other problem with remakes...remaking a movie screams to me that there is a dearth of creative thought out there in proverbial Hollywood. Why are we recycling something that has already been done instead of coming up with something fresh and original?
But there have been some remakes that are worth seeing.
Again I mention "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," because the American remake was surprisingly good, as good as the original, and again another star was born: Rooney Mara. So the film is interesting in that regard, as well, to see a young actress at the beginning of her career. And that yummy Daniel Craig doesn't hurt either.
So that said, here are some other remakes I deem worthy though I am not in any way condoning remakes:
Secret in their Eyes (2015)
I reviewed both the Argentinian original version and the American version. Though I preferred the original (it had more nuance), the American version was star-studded (Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Julia Roberts) and engrossing, and the changes they made to involve Julia Roberts worked. However, if you missed the original, you missed the poignant love story between the two central actors, which didn't work as well in the remake.
The Birdcage (1996)
This was a vehicle for Robin Williams and Nathan Lane to show their stuff and directed by Mike Nichols, how can you lose? But if you didn't see the original French film, "La Cage Aux Folles," you missed Michel Serrault's fantastically funny performance in the Nathan Lane part and, though I am a huge fan of Lane's, Serrault was absolutely stunning.
Cape Fear (1991)
C'mon, do you really need to remake a film when the original starred Gregory Peck and a fearsome, evil Robert Mitchum? Well, I guess you do when you can get Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis to star with Martin Scorsese directing. And since both Peck and Mitchum made cameo appearances in this remake, they must have approved.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
At least with this one, they did something a little different. The filmmakers made a film based on the musical which was based on the the original film, a Roger Corman "B" horror film from 1960. Funny road for the musical. It was an Off Broadway musical first, then the movie, and then a Broadway hit. But if you missed the original film, you missed a young Jack Nicholson in one of his earliest film roles as the dental patient who frustrated the sadistic dentist because he actually enjoyed the pain the dentist was trying to inflict.
King Kong (1976)
"King Kong" has been remade more than once since the original 1933 version starring Fay Wray, but this 1976 version starred Jessica Lange in one of her early roles and made her a star.
So those are a few remakes that were worth making and worth seeing.
I think it would be fun to watch the original and then the remake and compare. Don't you? Or am I showing my movie geek side?
OK, let's go on to movie sequels.
This summer we have been suffering from Sequelitis, a condition that exists when movie theatres are full of sequels, often sequels to movies that weren't very good to begin with.
Right now in the theatres we have "Conjuring 2," sequel to "Conjuring 1 (in case you couldn't figure that out);" "Independence Day: Resurgence," sequel to "Independence Day," but without Will Smith; "Now You See Me 2 (Hated the first one and hated this one too!)!" "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (I wish they had stayed put) and "The Purge: Election Year." That last one is actually the third installment in "The Purge" series and, in case you don't know what that is about, one night a year it's OK for bad guys to go out and kill anyone and everyone with no consequences in the most horrible of ways. Lovely. Needless to say, on that night the regular folks stay home. That's what you should do too.
Earlier in the year we had "Ride Along 2 (hated it!)," "Neighbors 2," "God's Not Dead 2," "Barbershop: The Next Cut," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Hated it!)," "Zoolander 2 (Hated it!)" and "Kung Fu Panda 3."
C'mon, did we really need another "Zoolander?" Didn't we beat that horse to death back in 2001? And "Hot Tub Time Machine 2?" Really? The first one was terrible. Likewise, can you believe there was a second "Poseidon Adventure?" ("Beyond the Poseidon Adventure"). How does that happen? Once the boat sinks, how does it get a do over?
I should probably be embarrassed that I even saw some of these sequels, but actually the first "Zoolander" was original and fairly funny 15 YEARS AGO and the first "Hot Tub Time Machine" was a funny concept. John Cusack was even in it. But that's it. Funny once. Not funny the second time.
So I say again, where is the creative thought? Is this the best you can do? A movie does well at the box office, so, hey, let's recycle the same story and characters, put a "2" after the title and call it a new film?
I don't have a problem with sequels that are character driven like the Rocky films, Indiana Jones and James Bond. We like those characters and we want to see them again and again.
I also don't have a problem with sequels that are part of a book series like the Harry Potter, "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hunger Games" movies, though I will say we were sold a bill of goods with "The Hunger Games" when they turned the last book into two movies. By the time I saw the last installment, I couldn't remember a thing that had happened earlier, and I think Jennifer Lawrence was having the same problem, because she looked like she was sleep-walking through the whole movie and the best she could do when all of the fighting was happening was look concerned.
And that continuity aspect is one of my biggest complaints about sequels that go on and on. How can we remember that far back? The last "Star Wars" film is another perfect example. I know "Star Wars" fans loved it but, for me, it's just been too long since the last one and there have been too many films. I just don't care anymore.
So with that said, here are some sequels that made sense and that I not only didn't hate, I thought they were really good films (in no particular order):
Godfather: Part II (1974)
The first "Godfather" was a stunning hit, but some critics feel this sequel was better than the original.
Before Sunset (2004)
This is the sequel to "Before Sunrise" and the second in Richard Linklater's trilogy co-written with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. In the first one, the two spend a romantic night in Vienna and here they meet up again in Paris. The sequel gave us even more poignancy and romance than the original. The trilogy ends with "Before Midnight."
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
When I reviewed this last year, I didn't love this film as much as others did, but anything starring Tom Hardy is on my list of good films. This film is not so much a sequel of the original with Mel Gibson but more of a sequel to the concept of a post-apocalyptic world with a bunch of goons running around. It is stunning to look at and it won many Oscars for its production values. However, if you missed the original, you missed a very young and hunky Mel Gibson before he revealed himself to be a bit of a nutter.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
The sequel to "National Lampoon's Vacation," it continues the adventures of the Griswold family and the hapless Clark Griswold. It also reminds us that Chevy Chase used to be funny.
Jurassic World (2015)
A fun up-date of "Jurassic Park" with a charming Chris Pratt and all that CGI has to offer.
This is one of those "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" movies. The book lists it as "one of the greatest sequels of all time." Not sure about that, but Sigourney Weaver is certainly a badass in this!
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Who wouldn't want to spend more time with Woody and his gang? This sequel is considered by many critics to be better than the original and we loved it so much there was a "Toy Story 3" and a "Toy Story 4."
I know I have missed some good ones, but my point is this: there are far more unnecessary and BAD remakes and sequels than good ones.
So I want to send this message to the film studios and production companies. Enough with the sequels and remakes already!!!
Let's see some new, fresh and original content. There are hundreds of books published every year that would make great movies. Option those. Be open to scripts coming in from hopefuls. Stop thinking only of the bottom line and start thinking about us, your audience. Let us decide if we want to watch foreign films and read subtitles. Don't automatically think we won't and remake a perfectly good movie. We are smart people who appreciate something new and original and interesting.
So forget the sequels and remakes. Give us something new!!!
So, what do you think? How do you feel about sequels and remakes?
Are there any you deem worthy?
Thanks for reading!
See you Friday
for my review of
(The New Female Version)
The Week in Reviews
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
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