Originality. That’s the goal, right? That is the common denominator. The thing that we all care about, and the vital element that filmmakers should always be striving for. Sometimes they achieve it… And sometimes they clearly don’t…
Alright anyway dear reader (you’re looking great by the way) let me start off by just naming a few of my favourite movies that were released last year and also generally got positive reactions:
“Captain America; Civil War,”
and “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
Ok, so that’s a solid little list right? But other than these titles all providing one hell of a great time at the movies, what else do they all have in common? Well, I hate to break it to you… But they were all based on something else. Something that had already existed; Whether it be a successful short story, a famous comic book character or series, a follow-up to something that we’ve seen before or even a true to life event.
To put it simply; these films, along with most films, wouldn’t have existed without some sort of inspiration backing them up. Something that they could lean on, something of a safety net to base themselves upon. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. A film should possess a story worth telling, and often the stories worth telling have already been told via some sort of other medium. In a way, we’ve come so far in storytelling that by now nothing can really be considered completely original. Everything is based on something and we’ve seen it all. But if you ask me, retelling such stories via film isn’t a problem. Not inherently anyway.
In fact, when it comes to remakes there can certainly be a number of positive reasons to make them, but here is a list of what a remake needs to do in order to be justified;
- It needs to outdo what had been done before it in some sort of way. Meaning that primarily it needs to be better – However that is subjective so I’ll try to get more specific – A remake/reboot (etc) should build upon it’s predecessor. It should bring something new to the table. It shouldn’t be a shot for shot imitation.
- It shouldn’t exist purely because it’s been long enough since the original and the studio is looking for a quick buck. A remake needs to feel necessary. It needs to feel like the people behind it care about what is on screen. Without the heart, you lose everything. A remake can bring a newer, wider audience to the screen, why waste everybody’s time and money, including your own?
- That last point being said… It does need to have been long enough since the original. You can’t (or rather shouldn’t) remake something like “The Martian” from 2015. It’d be too soon. And what would be done differently this time around if we aimed to tell the exact same story? Preferably it will adapt to suit the time that it’s released – or better yet remake a film that originality became quite dated into a timeless one.
- Another thing which we all would love to pretend doesn’t matter (but kinda actually does) are those special cinematic effects. Yes, another enemy of modern movie watchers; (and another thing that I am not inherently and/or passionately against) CGI, green screens and all things that make Ironman flying through the sky and fighting The Hulk possible. Remakes can bring visual beauty and professionalism to films from the past. Films that, despite their great stories aren’t the best to look at and aren’t the most believable. As much as the writing and story behind a film matters, the way that it looks matters too. And remakes CAN improve on such a thing. Even if they don’t always do so. However this is far from the most important thing. This is more of just a little quirky bonus. If this is all that mattered then “Independence Day Resurgance” (Wait, that’s the title right? Geez, who can even remember?) would have been my favourite movie of the year… And boy it really wasn’t.
- Uhhh…. Other things… Look, I’m not a filmmaker. I won’t pretend to know everything that there is to know about making them. But what I can critique is the final product. And often, lately the final product just isn’t good enough.
But really as I stated above, what’s really most important when adapting a story, characters or even just elements from elsewhere to the big-screen is really one vital thing; Having heart. (Ugh, yes… And I suppose good writing and all that other boring stuff is probably pretty important too… But mostly it’s heart.) Because film can bring more to a story. Film can heighten the experience. I’m not sure about you, reader, but as for me, when I’m sitting in the cinema watching something great, it can be so much more than just being told a good story. It’s an experience. It’s engrossing. Film can be something to get lost in. These are the experiences that I’d say we all want a whole lot more of; We do want more originality, we do want creativity and we do want to be swept up in these fictional worlds on the screen. Personally if every movie could make me feel what films like “The Revenant” and “La La Land” did, well let’s just say I think I’d just about live in the cinema (as if I already don’t).
But not every film is “La La Land.” Not every film does make you feel things. Not every film engrosses you in it’s world and not every film is good. You hear a lot about the greed and the sell-out nature of Hollywood and their addiction to the almighty remake, reboot, sequel, spinoff, franchise and anything else that can be categorized into such a group. And we as film-goers often think of such types of films as being evil, as being money pinching, soulless and lazy. And to an extent I can certainly agree with that. We see our fair share of… well to be blunt; Crap. We’ve seen enough Transformers for a lifetime, as we have any sort of Pirate based around the Caribbean, we’ve seen more than enough unnecessary and pointless remakes that add nothing new to the concept in films like “Point Break” and “Total Recall” and we’ve seen far too much of the crappy side of film – Like, can we stop that now please? That’d be alright.
And so I understand where the seediness comes from, I understand why film fans and movie buffs feel the need to get constantly angry about the next film like this being planned and announced in a constant cycle that seems like it just won’t end. But let me tell you a secret; (Lean in real close) we don’t have to see them! We really don’t. I swear. I know, I know, you still want to in a weird way. And so do I! (Idiots!) They make us angry but we still want to see them!
But if you’re one of the types who do not make any content based off of this stuff such as people like myself and you’re just a guy or gal who simply loves seeing all things in film… Well you seriously can just ignore this one! I myself have done so as recent as this year. In the past I would have gone to see “Resident Evil 5000” and “xXx; Reloaded” (Yeah title that sounds about right…?) However this year I refrained! This year, I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste my time… As much!
Beyond it being our own choice the see these movies however, there is still the clear problem of these films constantly getting made. However I just want to explain a key difference in my mind when it comes to all of these remakes, reboots, sequels and the like; There are good ones and there are bad ones.
Not every spinoff that gets announced is instantly something to rebel against, (“Rogue One,” “Creed,” etc…)
not every sequel that gets released is automatically evil, (“The Conjuring 2,” “Captain America; The Winter Soldier,” Terminator-Frickin-2; Judgement Day… etc… )
Not every reboot means no creativity or originality will be involved, (“Deadpool,” “Batman Begins,” “21 Jump Street” … etc… )
and not every remake needs to make our blood boil, get us inflamed in fury or get any negative reaction out of us at all… In fact, some remakes can be great. (“Dawn of the Dead,” “Fright Night” … etc.) And I for one am happy to invite more actual good ones in with open arms.
Even if a lot of the spinoffs do make us mad, the sequels are evil, the reboots aren’t original or the remakes are terrible – This doesn’t make it so that we must declare war on the very idea behind it all. No, the real enemy is in fact the specific films themselves. The people behind the ones that lack imagination. The people with nothing to say, who try to speak anyway.
And this is really the primary point that I wanted to get across; The fact that remakes and the like can be fantastic if handled well. Some of my favourite films (and maybe even yours?) are in fact part of this category. We as film goers just have to pay attention to the difference, we have to slip through those cinematic cracks and find the good, ignore the bad and not even glance at the ugly.