Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: Concerning Remakes

FACT: The troubled remake of Paul Verhoeven’s ROBOCOP (1987), now in production, has had its release date moved from August 2013 all the way up to February 2014.
OPINION: First of all, somewhere out there Paul Verhoeven is pulling a Don Shula and popping the champagne in celebration of his perfect record; unblemished by remake efforts. This year’s remake/re-imagining of his TOTAL RECALL (1990) was a critical and commercial flop, and now it looks like the new version of his ROBOCOP film (while not really a pinnacle of modern filmmaking, it does have a large cult following in sci-fi circles) is in trouble, too. Word is the film (which once had Darren Aronofsky attached as director) has some major problems which cannot be easily overcome because they are built into the film. Chances are the long delay is to deal with those problems by way of re-shoots, re-edits, and perhaps even a major overhaul.

The idea of a remake isn’t always a bad idea, providing they can bring something new and fresh to the table. Remakes such as THE THING (1982), TRUE GRIT (2010), THE DEPARTED (2006), 3:10 TO YUMA (2007) and OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001) embraced such an approach and were very successful. Rob Zombie brought several new elements into his 2007 remake of HALLOWEEN (1978), and while his film wasn’t embraced by moviegoers (or critics), it at least wasn’t a shot-for-shot re-hash of the original…which was the approach of the disastrous PSYCHO remake in 1998.
Sometimes going back to the source material for a more literal adaptation works well, too. The TRUE GRIT remake of the 1969 John Wayne vehicle was closer to the original novel than its predecessor, and the upcoming remake of CARRIE (1976) looks to follow the narrative of Stephen King’s novel more closely.

The specific problems of the new ROBOCOP are unknown. However the internet has been abuzz for months about studio interference getting in the way of the director’s vision, which is never a good sign.  History has proven that delayed films usually don’t fare very well, but it has also proven that the idea of a remake isn’t the problem; it’s the idea behind the idea.

The new ROBOCOP is being directed by Jose Padilha (who has nothing significant to his credits), and stars Joel Kinnaman, Sam Jackson, Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, and Jackie Earle Haley.

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