Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Remake madness hits fever pitch

I had originally intended to list the 100 or so things I'd rather do with Elisha Cuthbert than torture and abuse her (like perhaps take her to a nice movie that's not about torture porn), but I'm afraid I'm just not feeling that ambitious. All I can do is once again say please, please, please don't go see "Captivity" this weekend!

Or I could bemoan the fact that Kevin Spacey is set to return as Lex Luthor in "Superman: Man of Steel." Really the only bad thing about Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" was that he was more than a tad too worshipful (is that even a word?) of Richard Donner's work, with Lex being a big part of that. Even in this bad news, however, there's a silver lining: Singer will be doing both "Valkyrie" and "The Mayor of Castro Street," his Harvey Milk biopic, before getting to work on another Superman flick.

No, what really grated my cheese this morning is the news that they're actually gonna try and remake "Footloose." I'll give you all a second to ingest this madness before we proceed ...

This sickening project will star Zac Efron of "High School Musical" in the Kevin Bacon role, taking the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game to a whole new generation. The only thing that makes this even a little palatable, and I can't stress enough the word little, is that they're at least gonna transform it into a full-blown musical, like it was on Broadway.

What's it gonna take to end this madness? I think I've found the Earth-shattering, soul-dissolving event that just might bring us to the brink: Michael Bay's "The Birds." It's just a rumor at this point, but I'm sure Bay would love to see himself as Hitchcock (as another director who will be mentioned here shortly already did.) If he actually decided to try this, with the birds transformed into gigantic CGI critters, we finally might have the nerve to stand up and say enough is enough.

In the meantime, there is of course no end in sight. In honor of Mr. Efron and his co-conspirators, here are the five worst movie remakes I've ever seen. Please take into consideration that there are so many worthless remakes out there that it was hard to make the cut, and that I make it a rule to almost never see anything that has gone from a TV show to a movie. And please feel free to sound off with any that just make you vomit in your own mouth in the comments.

1. "Cape Fear"

Martin Scorsese has made very few bad movies, but this is certainly one of them (the only other ones I can think of off the top of my head were "Bringing Out the Dead" and "Gangs of New York," but neither of those are anywhere near as bad as "Cape Fear.") Robert De Niro following in the footsteps of Robert Mitchum? No thanks. He simply isn't scary at all, and so neither is this thoroughly craptastic flick.

2. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Planet of the Apes"

OK, I'm gonna break the rules from the start by making this list have six titles, but Tim Burton deserves the double shot for these two felonies. The worst thing about his "Charlie" is that the first 20 minutes or so, before they enter the factory, are pure magic. Then Johnny Depp appears as some kind of vaguely menacing pedophile and the whole operation goes right into the toilet. As for "Planet of the Apes," he knew he couldn't top Charlton Heston's big moment on the beach, so what did he do? Just drop it completely. Pathetic.

3. "Point of No Return"

This one probably wouldn't make the list if Luc Besson's "Nikita" wasn't easily one of my favorite movies. The problem here, as with "Cape Fear," starts with the leading player, Bridget Fonda. In Besson's movie, Anne Parillaud was, as TLC put it best, crazysexycool. Fonda was sexy at least, but in this case one out of three definitely is bad.

4. "Psycho"

I (and the rest of the world) have piled so much abuse on poor Gus Van Sant for this one that it's just getting sad, so I'll keep it short: How can you have any suspense in a shot-for-shot remake of this masterpiece from the master of suspense? 'Nuff said.

5. "Poseidon"

Every time I think this summer at the movies kinda sucks (with a few very bright exceptions, of course), I just have to think back to last summer and how rotten I felt after watching this Wolfgang Petersen turd. Andre Braugher already had a firm grasp on the title of most criminally under- and misused actor in Hollywood, but Petersen really upped the stakes here by casting him as the ship's captain, giving him maybe two lines and then killing him in about five minutes. I'm sorry if that spoils anything for you, but if that somehow keeps you from seeing this disaster you should only be thanking me.

And, just in case you thought the end of all this madness just might be in sight, here's a little video proof you're wrong. The first clip of is of Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart in the upcoming "Get Smart" remake. From the trailer alone you can tell that the very funny Mr. Carell has already crossed the line into just parodying himself, and that's just sad.

Next up comes the trailer for "Hairspray." I'd be easier on this one if John Waters' original movie weren't one of my favorites. I've seen the Broadway musical too, and it is, in its own way, almost as good. So, why make a third version? Beats me. Christopher Walken should just be a delight to watch in this, but I smell a big fat Razzie in John Travolta's not-too-distant future. Enjoy, and have an entirely suck-free Wednesday.

P.S.: I'm beginning to get the strong suspicion that this post is itself a remake in that I rail against this subject quite a bit, but there is no bigger problem in the movie industry today, so please forgive me if I repeat myself.


jeremy said...

I would just like to posit this about van Sant's Psycho--I think people are way too literal when they look at this film. There is one scene that is in the remake that is not in the original--a masturbation scene.
Adding the eyehole to the hotel room and making Norman the creep so early in the film is in direct opposition to Hitchcock.
Van Sant knows his exercise is pure masturbation, and when questioned by Roger Ebert why he made the film he said, "So no one else will want to."
I think van Sant did more to lionize its predecessor and discourage imitators than any other artist could have.
So, while the movie sucks, it is what is and I don't fault it for that.
It would be lower on my list of bad remakes.
Maybe below Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rio Bravo, Solaris, City of Angels and Breathless for me.

Reel Fanatic said...

I can sort of see your point, Jeremy, but that doesn't redeem the movie any in my eyes ... I am definitely with you on "Breathless" .. "Au Bout du Souffle" (sp?) is easily one of the coolest movies ever made, so there was no way the remake could possibly compare .. I actually did see it, and it was just as awful as I could have imagined

Mercurie said...

I think Van Sant's Pscyho is probably my candidate for the worst movie remake, although there are many, many other worthy (if that is the operative word) candidates. Certainly when it comes to remakes of TV shows, the majority of them are just plain wretched.

As to the Get Smart trailer, I actually liked what little I saw. It seems to me that Carell is making a very honest stab at portraying Maxwell Smart as he appeared in the show. Too often in these TV show remakes, the performers don't make any attempt whatsoever to capture the essence of the original characters.

Anyhow, speaking of remakes, Xanadu is playing on Broadway even as I write this. I think it is one instance where a remake has to be better than the remake. But then I guess that's not saying much...

Marina said...

Oh wonderful. I can just see Bay redoing "Birds". They'd probably have to explode at some point. Or maybe, he'll get rid of them by blowing them up. I don't know but something HAS to explode for it to be a Bay film.

Reel Fanatic said...

There is no doubt you're right about that, Marina .. I'm hoping that this one somehow stays just a rumor, but it sounds all too real to me already

There was a review of the Xanadu musical in this morning's New York Times, Mercurie, and they indeed endorsed it as being much more fun than the movie it was based on

* (asterisk) said...

Amen, brother. Though I might add that you're preaching to the choir here. Need I also mention how unnecessary was a certain remake of Infernal Affairs...?

Reel Fanatic said...

That's one where I have to, politely of course, disagree with you my friend ... Though the HK original is a true work of art, I though Scorsese and William Monahan imbued their take with enough style to justify remaking it

Invisible Lizard said...

Wouldn't have put Scorsese's Cape Fear on this list. I actually liked it. But I would include trash like Godzilla. And if you're going down the "wonderful foreign films that should never have been remade" route, I'll add The Vanishing, which was much better in Spoorloos (1988), and even The Ring which was fine but Ringu was much better.

Reel Fanatic said...

I like the old Godzilla so much that I didn't even bother with the remake, but I'm sure you're right that it's pure garbage ... And I liked The Ring quite a bit too, but have to agree that Ringu was superior

Damian said...

Would you believe that I am actually looking forward to the Get Smart movie?


Would you believe I'm cautiously optimistic?


How about I'm just hoping it doesn't suck.

Anonymous said...

From the trailer alone you can tell that the very funny Mr. Carell has already crossed the line into just parodying himself, and that's just sad.

Really? You got all that from that short clip? Wow.


Reel Fanatic said...

I probably did read too much into that one-minute clip, Kelly, but it's mostly because I have nothing but love for Steve Carell and am hoping beyond hope that this movie doesn't just suck hard

Lorraine said...

I agree that one of Hollywood's big problems is the need to remake movies that don't need to be remade (Exhibit 1: "Mostly Martha") but I admit, I'm looking forward to the "Get Smart" movie. If they do it right. I loved that show as a kid. Loved. It.

And I'm not sure I can agree with your analysis of Steve Carell...I think his turn in "Little Miss Sunshine" was enough to show that he has the chops to not become a parady of himself.

I haven't seen "Hairspray" (I know, blasphemy) so I'm semi-looking forward to the remake. Plus, and maybe this is just because I have a teenager, but I don't hate Zac Efron. And I love love love Amanda Bynes.

Reel Fanatic said...

Mostly Martha is one of my favorite movies too, Lorraine, so there is absolutely no way, even it gets five-star reviews, I will be going to see that remake set to come out soon.

ChristinaG said...

The Cape Fear remake was unnecessary, but not one of the most terrible out there. I'd have to put City of Angels (remake of Wim Wenders Der Himmel Über Berlin/Wings of Desire) at the top of my list of bad remakes.

Emma said...

Hairspray seems to me like all kinds of bad goodness. I want to see it so much, yet am dreading it at the same time.

Reel Fanatic said...

I was completely horrified at the idea at first, Emma, but I've sort of come around ... The only thing in the trailer that bothers me (except for John Travolta, of course), is the protest march scene ... It's far too serious to be associated with anything that once sprung from the twisted mind of John Waters!