Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Didn't I see this before?

ScreenSelect, the UK's leading online DVD rental site, has announced the results of its poll to determine the worst movie remakes of all time. Here are the offenders:

1. Get Carter
2. Psycho
3. Thunderbirds
4. Assassin
5. Charlie’s Angels
6. Alfie
7. Planet of the Apes
8. Starsky and Hutch
9. Cape Fear
10. Ocean's Eleven

I'll grant them that the Sly Stallone-starring retooling of Get Carter wasn't a great movie: too long, too talky, too just plain dull. (I always wanted to write a review of this disc for DVD Verdict just so I could open with: "Get Carter? Get coffee." But that's out of my system now.) But I don't think it's the worst remake I've seen. Stallone actually gives a very creditable performance in it (as he's done in several terrible flicks in recent years, in which he's actually been better than the material), as does John C. McGinley as his hyperactive colleague in crime whose mantra is, "Take care of the business or the business will take care of you." On the down side, director Stephen T. Kay had zero idea of how to put a film together, so the narrative meanders all over the place without building any interest or momentum.

For the record, my vote goes to Gus Van Sant's absolutely worthless remake of Psycho, one of my ten favorite movies of all time. If you don't have any new ideas to bring to the party, if you're just going to copy the original shot-for-shot, why bother?

On the rest of the list:

Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven is one of the most entertaining movies of the last five years — I've probably replayed it as frequently as any DVD I own — and certainly doesn't belong on a list of worst anything. In fact, it would be my top contender for best film remake ever. Soderbergh's picture far outstrips the Rat Pack original in every possible way, in part because the original — lighthearted romp through old-school Vegas though it is — isn't really much of a movie. If the point of a remake is to improve on a concept, Ocean's Eleven does that in spades.

I didn't care much for Tim Burton's misguided take on Planet of the Apes, and would probably place it higher on this list. I loved the original (now painfully cheesy and dated) movie series when I was a kid, and found Burton's version grim and lifeless. (It also doesn't make any logical sense, if you analyze the plot carefully. Not that one expects a movie about talking apes to make logical sense, mind you.)

It's a given that Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch weren't very good (though my wife and daughter disagree with me about the former, which they both liked). But they aren't remakes in the strictest sense, inasmuch as they're not based on earlier movies but rather on TV shows. I wouldn't have included them in the survey. Besides, there are far worse TV-to-film reimaginings out there. Did anyone see Tom Arnold in McHale's Navy? Egad.

And seriously, how good did anyone expect Thunderbirds to be? The only way to make that concept work is not to try.

Filmmakers should learn that the movies that are most ripe for remaking are those whose concepts were intriguing, but whose execution was poor (Ocean's Eleven is a fine example), or dated classics that can be made more timely and pertinent for modern audiences (i.e. the recent reboot of The Manchurian Candidate, which I haven't seen but understand is quite good). Films that were already both excellent and timeless (i.e., Psycho, or, heaven forfend, Citizen Kane or Casablanca) don't need to be remade. You'd be foolish to even attempt.

0 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Post a Comment

<< Home