When Movies Inspire Movies the Right Way
So: yes, LOTS of remakes and reboots in the air. Some are good. Some are terrible. Some do not even have the courtesy to acknowledge that they ARE a remake. But one thing is for sure, they are here to stay. Indeed, some argue there are only seven original stories in the world. So here we are with a rundown of the remake game. Hold Tight.
Remakes – especially those that take a movie made outside Hollywood and forces it into the great American film paradigm – are usually bad or at least not as good as the original. There are plenty of examples one could enumerate – think Psycho, Taxi, and Ghostbusters, to name just a few.
(nb Ghostbusters 2016 IS a charming film: it’s just a shame they had to call it er..GhostBusters, when it was a very different animal to its original parent, save the proton packs etc). But moving swiftly on..;) Imitation IS the best form of flattery. And an ‘homage’ is not the same as a rip off.
Heck: studios are now suing each other over WHO gets to BRAND their remake universe a ‘universe’. Seriously: Universal’s big pitch for a ‘Dark Universe’: now in danger from Warners, who kinda own the title c/o the whole Dark DC Justice Universe thingie. But both when it comes down to it are remakes of remakes via reboots: new coats of paint on old, established and safe yet to be fair – also timeless templates -.
On one hand, it’s commercial opportunism. On the other? THERE IS NO ESCAPING THE REMAKE! It is a filmmaker’s DESTINY to at some level, remake, reboot, rebrand etc..And then repeat that cycle. Heck, ALIEN COVENANT is arguably a thinly disguised remake in places of its predecessors. Ditto PIRATES 5: hence BOTH not exactly smashing records, despite not being ‘flops’ per se either.
Sometimes, in turn, movie-makers reach out for inspiration to classic movies, adding their own genius to the mix, and creating something unique and amazing. The resulting works are usually valuable works that often gather a cult following – like in the examples below.
Equilibrium was the film that showed the world again why Christian Bale was a natural fit for Batman, just a year before his casting in BATMAN BEGINS (itself a reboot with some debt to other iterations).
Equilibrium ALSO shows us the world with sentiment and feeling a crime, from initial thought through to graphic execution. It’s an underrated gem and frequently streams on Netflix. Also featuring Sean Bean (excellent in the unmissable, currently airing on British TV: BROKEN)
All the population is bound to take Prozium, a drug that suppresses their feelings and sentiments, in order to avoid conflict, crime, and war. The Priests of the Tetragrammaton are the ones who safeguard the stability of society, under the wise leadership of “Father”. It’s a world where neither the sight of a puppy nor becoming a Play Boy Progressive jackpot winner will make a person smile.
Whether the movie was inspired by or influenced by Ray Bradbury’s famous Fahrenheit 451 (or the 1966 movie version written and directed by French visionary François Truffaut: itself once targeted for a Mel Gibson directed /Brad Pitt starring..remake?!) we will never know. What we know, in turn, that the two main characters – John Preston and Guy Montag – go through the same struggle leading to revelation, both of them rebelling against the oppressive society they live in their own way.
The Magnificent Seven
It is not a secret that John Sturges’ western masterpiece, The Magnificent Seven, was more than inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Some consider it a ripoff, others think of it as a story retold in a way that appeals to an American audience – the memory of Japan fighting the US in World War II might just have been a bit too vivid back in 1960. Whichever the case, The Magnificent Seven remains one of the best Western movies ever made.
And of course, Seven Samurai has been referenced in everything from THE BODYGUARD to STAR WARS, while MAGNIFICENT SEVEN itself got..a remake..of a remake recently, (with Chris Pratt prepping his rumored future audition for Harrison Ford’s role as Indiana Jones..in another soft reboot of a sequel of a remake of INDIANA JONES 😉
The Thing (1982)
What The Magnificent Seven was for the Western genre was “The Thing” for the world of horror movies. Few younger horror fans know that it is, in fact, a remake. The Thing From Another World was released in 1951, based on a novel written by John W. Campbell Jr., former editor of Astounding Science Fiction, the magazine that did perhaps the most for the modern sci-fi genre.
John Carpenter’s remake of the story is more faithful to the source material than its predecessor, has an exceptional cast, and it’s as ambiguous as it can be. Besides, it has an ending that leaves just enough questions unanswered to make the already paranoid audience uneasy. It’s a masterpiece of horror, dismissed at the time of its release, and today seen as a classic.
Which are YOUR favorite / least favorite remakes: past, present, future? This feature will be ongoing so we would LOVE to hear from you. Unless you are a troll with a grievance. In which case..go forth and remake yourself 😉