There are few words that can send cinephiles of the internet into such an apoplectic rage as “remake.” “Do we really need this?!,” they cry from their comments sections. “Hollywood doesn’t come up with any original ideas anymore! Who wants to see a remake of Top Gun/Clash of the Titans/Fantastic Four? Waaaaaah!”
Well, movie nerds. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has some things to say to you. (And to me. I’m not exempt from remake rage. Thinking Robert Zemeckis was sinking his claws into Clue way back when made me break out in hives. I admit to being hypocritical when it comes to that one.) Via his Facebook page:
The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Thing, The Fly, Casino Royale, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Wizard of Oz (yes, the famous one), The Departed, James Whale’s Frankenstein, The Maltese Falcon, and - although Tarantino only barely admits it - Reservoir Dogs are all remakes as good as or better than the original.
That said, a remake doesn’t need to be better than the original to be worth watching or making. Scorsese’s Cape Fear works as a counterpart to the original film and they’re fun to watch back-to-back. I always hoped that my own Dawn of the Dead was so different from the original - only the premise from that film really remains - that it would be full of surprises for people who know Romero’s film well.
Remakes are not “Hollywood running out of ideas” - they’ve been around in film since the silent era, and on stage long before that. Also, Hollywood isn’t pushing remakes on audiences - audiences go see them, so the studios keep them coming. So if you want to stop seeing films remade, stop watching them.
For me, all I care is that the movie works well, that it has heart, good characters, and a story that pulls me in, remake or not.
You shoot straight, Gunn. Sure, there are tons of shitteous remakes out there nowadays, when studios are less keen on taking risks and instead opt for churning out product with built-in name recognition so they don’t have to actually make their stories interesting to get people talking about them. But there are tons of shitteous movies out there in general. Total Recall, yeah, but also Mars Needs Moms (based on a book, but not a remake).
Does Hollywood have an originality problem? Yes. I think it does. I think the fact that most of the big-budget movies coming out nowadays are either remakes, reboots, sequels, or adaptations, with few original stories to be seen, is evidence of that. But that’s not a remake problem. That’s a Hollywood problem. But discounting a movie because it’s a remake is, I think, unwise. There are so many more elements that go into a movie than the basic facts of its story and characters. Spike Lee’s Oldboy didn’t suck because Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy came before it. It sucked because it sucked (you can read my review here).
So I’m on Gunn with this one. Naysayers, go away and let me anticipate reboots like Josh Trank’s The Fantastic Four in peace.