Remakes, Reboots, Sequels, and Toy and Game Movies — Want ‘Em Or Not, Here They Come !
(Steven Spielberg has claimed in multiple interviews that when he went into a meeting with Columbia Pictures in 1978 to discuss a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and request more money to improve CE3K before it’s ensuing re-release in 1980 — that studio executives told him they wanted something different than a sequel. They didn’t know the right word or phrase for it was, but they essentially wanted a “kind of remake.” Spielberg claimed to have been not simply taken aback by this revelation, but moreover instantaneously drunken by it. I imagine a computer guy in the next room installing an old IBM PC, shouting out, “Reboot! That’s The Word You’re Looking For !
… And I am born, the root of all movie evil.)
I’ve been thinking about the flipside of something since I saw and then eviscerated Super 8 in a review I wrote here on my blog. Something about the attempt at Spielberg-nostalgia paired with a prequel of sorts to the Cloverfield monster running rampant through the pic’s substructure, seemed to bother the shit outta me.
I hope you’re sitting down for this, cause I just commandeered a podium and a microphone and I’m about to verbally kick somebody’s ass; though I think you’ll be very surprised at the identity of the kickee.
What have you been watching this summer, and what were your options ? I’ve heard a lot about the Woodman’s new film, Midnight in Paris. But I’d rather watch it at home, like I did Zelig and Interiors. (Just being honest.) Manhattan I’d watch in a big room, but that’s another essay altogether, and a lengthy one at that.
What do we want to watch ? What do we want to pay for ? And why do we keep paying for these tent-pole things ? Why does nobody ever have the confidence to ask for their money back, even if the projection is dim or the experience is lousy ?
I watched the trailer of the A-Team movie, and had no interest in ever viewing that piece of shit. As dumb as the old TV show is, it has an infinite amount of integrity in comparison, mainly because it was not a big “product” designed on the “assumption” that they were gonna get your money anyway, so they could pretty much do whatever the hell they wanted. The TV show, as dumb as it was, had merit because they were trying to stay on the air. As is the case with a lot of TV — playing right into the winning side of the argument that TV is now better than most movies. But eventually, I sat down and watched the A-Team movie … annnnd it was pretty much what I expected from having seen the trailer. A cash register, with a big button that had my first and last name on it. Along with my bank account number.
Who’s ass do I gotta kick around here to get a decent movie ?
I spontaneously revised my Netflix queue, and then simply put it on hold for several months, and then cancelled Netflix altogether. I needed a break from my entire generation’s addictive, permanently adolescent, one-track, narrow-minded idea of what an exciting movie is. I had chastised this A-Team movie from the outset, and yet knowing that it was going to be nothing more than shallow commerce aimed at cows staring at passing trains, I WATCHED IT ANYWAY ! Like an addict on parade.
You see, when I was a kid — let’s say 1981 — we sat on curbs and talked about what movie they would make next. And when we did this, we didn’t really need to qualify what that meant, because we all knew it meant a film with a fantastic premise, or what I eventually learned is referred to in Hollywood as a “high concept film.” And we ruminated on what Spielberg would do next and what the next Star Wars movie would be like, and why they didn’t make this into a movie and that into a movie. We theorized the concepts of sequels, movies based on TV shows, games, toys, etc. You seeing where this is going? We pestered our Parents, movie magazines, forums in the back of comic books, anybody who would listen, about what movies we felt they should be making.
And guess what … now that’s all they do. %97 of films hitting screens now are those films, and only those films. And they SUCK ! And just about everyone who sat on those curbs is really to blame for the current predicament we find ourselves in. It was all our idea in the first place; our generation generated this assembly line of neverending crapola. And now we can’t make it stop.
Just gimme a name, who’s ass I gotta kick ? Hmm ?
There have a few bright spots. I, myself, very much enjoyed X-Men: First Class. Good solid movie, good story, well told. But while it didn’t bomb at the box office, it didn’t set it on fire, either. A ghost of a trend directly connected with this films lackluster performance, is that of really bad movies, making great gobs of money. Maybe it’s the marketing, maybe it’s the timing, maybe it’s the subject matter — maybe people were just tired of X-Men movies, maybe this, maybe that … I’d like to believe that there is another excuse, but it seems the public are often more drawn to simplicity and easy-to-understand concepts, rather than storytelling in its purest form.
And then people start to argue about it.
At first, it seems a trivial issue. However, bring it up in a group and be patient. You will find it gets controversial within around forty minutes. And you can clock that. In the last 36 years, since the advent of the first reeeeally successful blockbuster, Jaws, the movie industry has gradually changed so much that it is challenging to find original story material in almost any motion picture made and released today. It seems everything has to have a pre-established identity with the audience. There are exceptions, but in general, by the time most somewhat original, stand-alone movies get to us, we’ve been there-seen that, and half the time, don’t want any more of it.
So let’s leave TV outta this, and go straight for the jugular. In brief, here’s a typical list of the unending stream of wannabe crap, pure crap, marginal crap, mediocre crap, and hovering in orbit just above crap headed your way. Feel free to do no more than scan the following. Reading carefully could cause an aneurism.
In no particular order, Coming Soon ! to a generic multiplex near you: Iron Man 3, Thor 2, National Treasure 3, a reboot of The Wolfman (yep, already,) a Total Recall remake, a Robocop remake, another Abrams Star Trek movie, G.I. Joe 2 (Really ??), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Happy Feet Two, a Bourne Prequel, another bad Wolverine movie, Disney’s Jungle River Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Monoploy: the Movie, Risk: the Movie, Battleship: the Movie, a remake of the original Clue movie, a Hot Wheels movie, more Underworld, Saw, Final Destination and Resident Evil, more (insert your own number here) Days or Weeks Later zombie pics, a remake of WarGames, a remake of Fright Night, The Smurfs, 21 Jump Street, Transformers 4, A remake of Mr. Mom, a remake of Westworld (wouldn’t it be a hoot if they did a remake of Waterworld; wouldn’t that be funny as hell,) another Judge Dredd movie (Why !?? It was never a good idea to make the first one,) a remake of Outland, another Dick Tracy movie from Warren Beatty, a remake of Poltergeist (fuckers,) a Prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, a long in development sequel/prequel/nobody seems to know wtf this thing is Blade Runner reboot thing which Ridley Scott btw is not involved in, a remake of Red Dawn, Piranha 3DD (much bigger titties than the last one,) competing Snow White movies, competing Wizard of OZ movies, Expendables 2, a reboot of those horrible Fantastic Four movies, a reboot of Spider-Man called The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot of Daredevil, Shaft in Africa Part 2 (just kidding,) Sherlock Holmes(2): Game of Shadows, Terminator 4, Mission Impossible (4): Ghost Protocol, a needless remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by a very good, and apparently very bored director, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, Spy vs. Spy (based on the Mad Magazine characters,) a reboot of Lethal Weapon, Bull Durham 2 (no shit, Costner wants to destroy it with a sequel) Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, Jurassic Park 4, Get Smart 2, Space Invaders (based on the Atari game,) and believe it or not, Green Lantern 2 …
*returns jaw to proper placement*
You can’t imagine how much longer the actual list of these impending craptastic shitsnack spectaculars actually is. What you see above, is merely a nasty taste of the sour nauseating, delirium inducing sewer that has become “the movies.” And as a member of a generation that indirectly caused this, I am embarrassed by this. It takes time for the corporate world to listen to the public, but when they do, and once every department is on the same page — watch out, buddy, they’re in it to win it. And they don’t stop until everything crashes down, and around them. So don’t expect this state of affairs to end anytime soon. If left to their own devices, corporate types would sell all the air to extra-terrestrials and leave us nothing to breath, under the ridiculous conceit that a new industry would have to be created to make more air, citing that otherwise their rights are being violated, because they (lol are you getting the joke here yet?) — because they are in fact doing nothing more than exploring the evolutionary spirit of progress, la-de-da-da. i.e. Corporate America is the snake that eats its own tail. Has been since probably the 1920’s.
[I remember reading an article on the Hollywood Reporter’s website one morning; I really wish I had bookmarked it. The question came up regarding a movie that had been made that had never been released and the Exec. stated that they saw the finished film and decided to “reboot” it. He also said, and don’t quote me on this but I remember reading this, he also said that if he could have changed anything, he would have rebooted the film before they made it. LOL !! — Think your priorities are outta wack, dude.]
Then there’s the current drama over plunging revenues in ticket sales linked to 3D presentation. Don’t get me started on that jokefest.
And where are all the other movies ? The non-genre stuff that used to balance everything out ? The stuff so few of us watched when we were kids ? The stuff we crave now, or at the very least wish could be successfully merged with genre more often ? Well … I’ll give ya a hint. Pretty much everything that shows up at the Sundance Film Festival is not really as independent as people would have you believe. In fact, the majority of those films simply lost their distribution. Almost all of them were made either by, or in connection with people already working in the film business. Thus, they aren’t truly independent, thus … uh, oh, the snake just ate its tale. You see, when a style of movie, say for the sake of argument, storytelling, goes the way of the dinosaur — that in fact reverberates throughout the industry like a gunshot. And it results, very directly, in good productions with very talented people getting shortchanged in every way possible. Next thing they know, their grand design on bringing storytelling back to cinema — is a mess; either sent to the graveyard of film festivals, desperate for reanimation, or worse, resting on a shelf at a soon to be closed bankrupt Blockbuster store, and promoted by cover art created in Photoshop by a nineteen year old intern, who graduated with a degree in accounting. Perhaps this is off-topic and pointless in respect to the subject at hand. My apologies. Let me get to the point; spell it out for you using those colorful little blocks with letters on them we all used to play with when we were toddlers. It’s very simple: for one reason or another, non-genre films are either going straight to video, or vanishing. Some become property of the bank. Some just sit on a shelf somewhere. And once they’re forgotten in the box of forgotten toys, they’re lost forever. Movies don’t get “rediscovered” if they never really got a release to begin with. They simply vanish, forever.
But … again, it is our fault — my fault, your fault if you’re of a certain age. Even though I find the majority of those coming films listed above distasteful — those Remakes, Reboots, Sequels, and Toy and Game Movies — I still find myself intrigued by Ridley Scott’s prequel to Alien — Prometheus. I nervously anticipate the Indiana Jones 5; with the hope that it could actually be better than the last one (Oh God, please don’t let it be as bad as the last one; Oh God, please; Oh God, please; Jesus, Lord — I supported that movie out of a desperate act to force success upon it so that Lucasberg the Two Headed-Dragon, would hopefully find it in their hearts to apologize for it by making a better one “next time.”) There’s the hope that The Dark Knight Rises will be as good as The Dark Knight — even though, I already hate that damn unimaginative title. A title only a studio executive could love. (why can’t they just call it Batman: Detective, or better yet, have comic books be a part of the plot and call it Detective Comics?) There’s Tim Burton’s movie version of the 70’s macabre soap opera, Dark Shadows, and a film centering on Disneyland, titled Magic Kingdom, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon.
Yea, there are a few that typically rope me in. But still, the answer to my question haunts me.
Who’s ass do I kick for this … ?
Be careful what you ask for, kids. For someday, you just may get too much of it slapped right in your face, courtesy of your own hand.