4 Famous Movies Hollywood Will Never Stop Remaking
Hollywood loves remaking old movies and rebooting dormant franchises almost as much as movie fans love complaining about them doing it. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, of course. Movies are hardly the only entertainment medium that thrives on recycling the same shit year after year. It just stands out a little more with movies because the money you spend seeing one in an actual theater could finance a South American revolution that would probably be twice as fun to watch as anything the major studios will ever come up with.
Seeing as how they're such a contentious topic of conversation, we talk about a few underrated movie remakes that everyone is wrong about on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by should-be Cracked columnist David Christopher Bell and professional dreamboat Soren Bowie. As for this column, let's talk about a few movies Hollywood will likely be remaking for the rest of time.
Surprise, nerds! Legendary Pictures dropped a bomb on attendees at Comic-Con this year when they announced that a new King Kong movie would be in theaters well over two years from now. This one is a prequel, of course, because that's what we're doing these days. That means it will take place entirely on Skull Island, the mythological land that the most beloved fictional gorilla killing machine of all time called home. So, it will be all of the skyscraper-scaling action you've come to expect from the King Kong franchise, except without the skyscrapers this time.
It's going to be damn adorable.
Does this all sound familiar? Sure, because this exact same thing, right down to the company behind it, happened just under a decade ago. It was 2005, to be exact, when Legendary Pictures teamed up with Peter Jackson to bring King Kong back to theaters ...
... for the first time since 1976.
If you're keeping score at home, this new installment in the Kong series will mark the fourth time the movie makers of America have gone back to this well (the original King Kong movie premiered in 1933).
So, that should be enough, right? Of course not. For one thing, you read the part where I said this is a prequel, correct? Once that word starts getting tossed around, "sequel" usually isn't too far behind. I don't know how they'll stretch this premise into multiple films, but I had the same questions about Taken, and Liam Neeson shut me right up about that, didn't he?
It won't be sequels that keep us in King Kong movies for the rest of our days, though; it will be special effects. See, no matter how good or bad the previous films may have been, until the 2005 remake, one fact remained the same throughout every single one of them: That gorilla ...
... looked fucking stupid.
Peter Jackson fixed all that in 2005. It took a long time, but we've finally perfected the computer-generated gorilla. This, in turn, blows open a veritable Pandora's box of potentially awful King Kong movie ideas. Now that we have our animal, it's time to find out what it can do, and find out we will. Hollywood will make damn sure of it.
The Shop Around the Corner
Here's a fun bit of trivia to run past your bar friends: Did you know that the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan raunchfest You've Got Mail is actually a remake of a 1940 film called The Shop Around the Corner? Once everyone's done questioning why you have such in-depth knowledge of late '90s rom-coms, the discussion might turn to how, exactly, an email-based movie was made in the 1940s.
Like this, obviously.
I mean, I hope the discussion doesn't turn to that, because it's an awfully stupid question that says terrible things about your thinking skills as a group more than anything else. Just in case, though, the answer is that, obviously, the original version of the film centered on two pen pals who communicate via letter.
You've probably never seen one.
There are a few reasons we'll never stop seeing this movie. For one, The Shop Around the Corner seems to be the wellspring from which every romantic comedy in history has flowed. Even movies that aren't credited as official remakes of this one seem like they should be. Case in point: One remake, 1959's Pillow Talk, involves a man who makes up a fake persona to woo a woman who already knows everything about the real him except for one thing -- she has no idea what he looks like. All my thugs reading this will surely recognize that as being strikingly similar to the plot of the Uma Thurman/Janeane Garofalo vehicle The Truth About Cats and Dogs (which is generally thought of as a take on Cyrano de Bergerac).
The way Janeane Garofalo spells her first name can kiss my ass.
Seminal-ness aside, the main reason we'll never stop seeing The Shop Around the Corner is because mankind will never stop coming up with new ways to communicate. In 1940, people were still writing letters; by 1959, they were talking on "party lines," which basically meant you shared your telephone line with untold numbers of faceless strangers in your general vicinity. Come 1998, email was the way to go, and so far, that's where we've left it. We've still got Yahoo Messenger, texts, Snapchat, and any manner of other newfangled communication tools to write movies around.
And when we do, I'll watch every goddamn one of them.
The Poseidon Adventure
Confession time! I've never seen The Poseidon Adventure in any of its forms, be it the 1972 original, the 2005 made-for-TV version, or the 2006 Hollywood blockbuster remake. I don't have any specific gripe against the franchise, it's just that boat movies aren't my thing. There are only so many ways they can end, and by that I mean there's only one way they can end.
Which is awesomely.
The boat will sink, some people will live, most people will die. Everything that happens up to that point is unnecessary gibberish that I don't give a single shit about, without exception. I will give The Poseidon Adventure credit for not making that needlessly dramatic buildup a two-hour movie in and of itself, but still, I just don't care.
That said, I understand that some people do. If that wasn't the case, this movie wouldn't keep coming back. Even if that was the case, we'd still see it time and again for the exact same reason we'll never stop seeing King Kong in theaters -- because we finally know how to make it look good. For decades, water has been the animatronic gorilla of outdoor filming locations. Making it look believable on screen without literally filling a room with water and potentially drowning everyone involved was a tall order in the pre-CGI days.
We're better people now, and with that comes the luxury of having better toys. As luck would have it, one of them does a bang-up job of faithfully recreating the sight of hundreds of people taking up permanent residence in a watery grave without a single drop of water being wasted.
The technology used to create that scene was developed at Stanford University. While your parents were dying of cancer, some of the brightest minds at one of our nation's most revered institutions of higher learning were coming up with new and exciting ways to make water look real in movies. Welcome to the world. All of it. That's exactly how it works, and that's exactly how it will always work. Brilliant thinkers who could be expending their brainpower keeping us disease-free are instead paid obscene sums of money for relatively useless stuff like this.
In their defense, it's totally our fault. As great as the effects were in the 2006 Poseidon movie, some asshole not a whole lot unlike myself probably examined that computer water with a high-powered microscope just to write a 5,000-word wall of text about how the crests of the waves had too much pixelation or some shit. We are unforgiving when it comes to that kind of stuff, because seeing a movie in theaters is about as cost effective as covering your rent with a payday loan. The people behind your favorite films know this, and whether you believe it or not, they respond to it, usually by spending millions of dollars developing new ways to shut us the fuck up about "cheesy" visual effects.
When that new technology arrives, there will be someone on the other end just itching for a chance to use it to finally give the mass drowning deaths of hundreds of otherwise innocent cruise ship passengers the big budget thrills a tragedy of that magnitude deserves.
The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Don't take this to mean that I don't have my finger on the pulse of pop culture at all times, but, until I researched this column, I had no idea the 2007 Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig film The Invasion was actually another remake of the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The reason for that is simple -- I've never seen The Invasion.
In that way, I'm just like you.
I remember being kind of interested in it back when it was in theaters, but I also remember the word-of-mouth reactions being so immediately harsh that I never even bothered giving the movie a chance. To this day, it holds a 19 percent "Freshness" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is Internet speak for "two enthusiastic thumbs down." By almost all accounts, it's a terrible film.
The 1978 version, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, on the other hand, is amazing.
The 1993 remake, Body Snatchers, is also secretly awesome.
Any subsequent remakes, though, will be terrible, for the same reason I suspect the 2007 version failed so miserably. Here's the thing: Our fear of literally being invaded by space aliens who destroy our way of life has subsided dramatically. Nevertheless, it's a premise that more often than not makes for a damn fun movie to watch, so studios never stop trying to find new ways to make it seem like a new idea. Unfortunately, the go-to means of spicing up a movie of this nature for a long time now has been to make it some sort of profound statement on whatever political or social issue of the day is most likely to be seen as a potential "invasion" by the general public. Somewhere in this country, some ambitious young screenwriter with really strong feelings about immigration is just now realizing that space aliens and illegal immigrants stoke the exact same fears in people.
Also, he'll be your waiter this evening. Give him a shout if you need anything.
Somewhere else, some dipshits with their hands on the company checkbook are eager and ready to reward this keen observation by paying that person millions of dollars to turn it into a movie. At least 1 in 5 of those movies will be some variation on Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The rest will be The War of the Worlds. All of them will blow, and the primary reason will be that, at the exact moment we're expecting some sort of new or interesting take on being invaded by the unknown, what we'll get instead is yet another reminder that we're terrible people who instinctively destroy anything that's not familiar to us, for damn good reason, apparently.
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