282/366 – Movie Remake Skepticism
I’m normally a pretty open person when it comes to things. I probably credit that to the fact that there’s a natural idea for me to give things a chance when I grew up perhaps not getting much of one myself due to what I liked and how I went through the earlier part of my life. As a result I’ve gotten a real good tendency to allow myself to use benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
But the one exception where I’m immediately always skeptical or on the defensive is movie remakes. By their very nature, I feel like while they do set out to pay homage to the original to make sure that its spirit is preserved, that they’re inherently created in order to surpass it or change it in some way. This is especially true of remakes that seek to modernize the original somehow, often with slight story changes or features that seem to reflect the current culture. And it certainly doesn’t help that some of the original movies in the catalog of attempted remakes are already well-liked successes in their own right. The Magnificent Seven’s original foray is one of the 20th century’s best known Western films. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of the late Gene Wilder’s best and most well-known films. Casino Royale was an iconic Bond film in its own right. In this respect, messing around with what wasn’t broken feels like something that might be a recipe for some underwhelming second chances at films.
That isn’t to say there haven’t been some really great remakes. Most of the films I’ve mentioned have garnered a decent amount of attention and praise, and there are always films out there that are a little rough around the edges or are too old to be known from recent memory, so a remake and modernization appears to be a good, refreshing take on things. In some of the better films, the original is a distant memory if it’s a memory at all. Ocean’s Eleven was a great retread on the original. True Grit did a decent job updating the John Wayne original. Dawn of the Dead managed to preserve some of the signature traits of the original while creating a good unique take on the undead apocalypse. I think for me, it’s just that remakes make me nervous that you don’t get that good balance between original reminder and unique new take.
Thankfully it’s just movies that make me this nervous and skeptical. TV shows, I’m less worried about, probably because of the fact that they get longer than a couple hours to tell their stories and establish themselves as a balanced original homage/unique new hotness show. There’s time to pivot and to tell a tale that has twists that change the original plot ever so slightly so as to make things interesting for those who are familiar with the first iteration. And this is honestly how I hope that most movies that are remakes get their successes and box office returns as well – by making sure that they use the short time wisely and to create enough intrigue and unique identity to be workable and appealing to audiences all on its own, and not through the use of the original as a crutch.