Just Because it’s a Remake Doesn’t Mean it’s Terrible
Every time I hear about a movie remake I prepare myself for the wave of anger that’s about to come flooding at me. For some reason, the vast majority of people automatically hate the idea of remaking a movie. I’m not sure if it’s due to an overprotective form of nostalgia or that they just hate the lack of “originality” coming out of Hollywood. It seems like the casual condemnation of a film just because it’s a remake has gained a ton of traction over the years. It’s almost like everyone can’t wait to jump on that bandwagon as though it’s going to show they have a superior taste in cinema. I don’t get it and there are a few different reasons why I’m slow to hate a movie just because it’s a remake. Honestly, the idea that every remake is going to be bad is worrying, because it sets a concrete preconceived notion in audiences head. With that much working against them, how could a remake ever live up to expectations?
Honestly, the idea that every remake is going to be bad is worrying, because it sets a concrete preconceived notion in audiences head. With that much working against them, how could a remake ever live up to expectations? I know it’s hard to walk into a theater ready to appreciate a movie for what it is. I blame the internet for that though. It’s easy for “fanboys” to piss and moan or for people to find some reason to be outraged over a movie before it comes out, that it can spread like a virus. It’s so hard these days not to anger some group over some aspect of a film, that a few influencers can destroy a movie before it even hits theaters.
I personally don’t see anything wrong with the concept of remaking a movie. After all, everything’s been done before in one way or another, so adding a new perspective or twist can be really exciting. Just take Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. People were obsessed with that movie when it first came out, but at its heart, it was nothing more than a remake. Sure the setting and time period changed, but that was nothing more than an update. Still, it was so beloved that some are still crazy about it to this day. If that’s an acceptable remake, then why isn’t it automatically hated? It’s because not every remake is terrible. Films like Ocean’s Eleven, The Birdcage, and Piranha 3-D, easily stand up to the source material and in some cases are even better. Sure the list of truly great remakes isn’t as long as it could be, but it’s definitely nowhere near as short as people want to believe.
Then there’s the fact that the vast majority of people have no idea that they’re actually watching a remake. Did you know that the Magnificent 7 was a remake? Not just the 2016 version, but the 1960 version every dad in America feels compelled to watch when it’s shown on a Sunday afternoon. Both are based on the Akira Kurosawa’s 7 Samurai (not the only film by Kurosawa to get the remake treatment). Does that mean that they are both automatically cinematic abominations? If you did know they were remakes, what about The Departed? It’s based on the film Internal Affairs. Yet that doesn’t make it any less amazing. Need one more example? Scarface, the movie made popular by wannabe gangsters attempting to romanticize the drug trade, is based on a 1932 gangster film. There will always be movie geeks (like myself) that will nod along and say “of course I knew it was based on this obscure movie,” but that’s usually after looking it up on IMDB.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of remakes that are also just awful. Take the recent Ghostbusters film. It was a movie that earned a lot of hate before it was released, but it was one that I wanted to be excited for just because I was such a huge fan of the originals. Despite the fact that it had its fair share of good points (Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Chris Hemsworth were outstanding), they couldn’t overcome the bad things. There’s a long list of these awful remakes, including Psycho, Carrie, and, of course, The Wicker Man. So there is some validity to the idea of being cautious when it comes to a new remake.
The hard truth though is that many of the movies being remade just weren’t that great, to begin with. We’ve all got rose-tinted glasses in one way or another when it comes to things we loved in the past. Sitting down and watching those films again though can leave a lot of us wondering what we loved about them in the first place. Ever taken the time to rewatch John Wayne’s True Grit? It’s awful. I mean, it’s a real struggle to get through. The remake though is still a great movie. The same could be said for the recent It movie. Die-hard fans refuse to believe anything could come close to Tim Curry’s Pennywise. Personally, I think Bill Skarsgård crushed it though. That’s not going to change the fact that people don’t want to believe that the version they might have loved could be the inferior version though. Of course, a lot of this just comes down to personal tastes in the end.
For some reason, there’s this idea that the original is always superior. It’s an elitist notion though. That the old is always better than the new. It gives a sense of class and lets people look down their noses at others. I’ve personally never subscribed to that philosophy though. Originals are significant in their contribution, but society and humans are constantly changing. The first movie ever made wasn’t the best movie of all time. So, why is there this hesitancy to be excited about a new perspective or twist on a classic? Hollywood has a lot of movie remakes in the pipeline including, The Dirty Dozen, Dune, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Of course, it would be easy to automatically write them off, but that’s a little close-minded. When it comes to movies, I feel like it’s best to keep an open mind. Save the hate and anger until the trailer comes out.
What’s your opinion on remakes though? Are they all just awful no matter what? Should Hollywood stop and try to come up with original ideas? Does a new twist or take on a story have any merit when it comes to originality? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.