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Remakes... Are We This Creatively Bankrupt?

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Remakes... Are We This Creatively Bankrupt?

Trailers for the Total Recall remake have begun to making the rounds. I saw it for the first time this weekend during a Sunday night NBA game. This isn't a movie blog, or even a blog where I (typically) talk about other forms of media besides books. However, I had to get this off my chest and I'll tie it back into books. Trust me.

First of all, here's the new trailer:

Oooooh, snap! Colin Farrell ladies! Do you think he'll do a line of coke off Jessica Biel's ass before or after he goes to Mars? I'm hoping for before and after. JB has a killer rear end. But, I digress.

This trailer comes on the heels of John Carter, another science fiction intellectual property set on Mars. Interestingly, the John Carter production team in all its marketing genius decided to not mention Mars anywhere. Likewise, the trailer for the new Total Recall also completely ignores Mars. I ask, have we lived and fought in vain? (This is totally the new SFF catch phrase. Thank you, Mr. Priest.) But, that's not really my point either.

What I'm pissed off about is Hollywood's continued demonstration of creative bankruptcy. Do they really believe that there isn't an as yet un-mined Philip K. Dick story worth making a movie about (121 short stories, 44 novels)? Is PKD the only science fiction author who has material that can be made into a movie? Are producers too lazy to read another 10,000 word story? If they're doing remakes, why aren't they remaking a PKD movie that's much older, like Blade Runner?

I have no idea what the answers to those questions are, in fact, I don't want to know. I imagine these producers spend hours every day looking through movies made 10-30 years ago, muttering, "Man this would totally look better with today's special effects. I mean look how much better those last three Star Wars movies were!" Give me a break. As fans, and consumers, we should demand better. I for one will boycott this stupid remake. If Hollywood wants my money they can damn well apply a little bit of imagination.

In the meantime, I'll be reading.

Of course, what really scares the shit out of me is that this kind of thinking will bleed into publishing. God save us all.



At April 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM , Blogger Paul Weimer said...

I think writing hasn't quite yet gotten to this level, although we've seen a few "sequels" to public domain works, and those "remixes" a la Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

As far as PKD...I've said before, but not standalone, that yes, we have wound up in a combination PKD-William Gibson science fiction future, and that's why Hollywood has clamped onto him like a limpet.

At April 2, 2012 at 8:09 AM , Blogger GunMetalBlue said...

There is no Mars-based freedom story in the original PKD story (aside from invisible mini-martians who speak to the protagonist) and AFAIK director of the new one (Len Wiseman) has forgone the entire Mars freedom plotline (which was invented for the Schwarzenegger film) for a more source-material-close adaptation.

Personally I think that a better adaptation to the source material (than the bastardized 1980's film) might be a good thing. Whether the new film will be any good remains to be seen. This trailer doesn't fill me with hope...but I could be wrong.

Lastly, Ridley Scott's production company Scott Free still owns the rights to anything Blade Runner-related (even new adaptations of the source material). And, his next project after PROMETHEUS is going to be a sequel or prequel to BLADE RUNNER showing the further development of artificial life. Thankfully I trust Ridley more than any other director in the history of directors.

I agree that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt, but I actually think it's a good thing. A Hollywood-centric film industry is finally becoming a thing of the past, and all you have to do is look to the various film festivals around the world...hell at the Toronto film fest alone there are always over 300 films in competition from around the planet and usually you can find the very best in ORIGINAL cinema represented. I think you're first mistake is assuming that Hollywood is the only place to look for good or original film fare in this day and age. It most certainly is not. Thank gods!

In fact, Hollywood represents a rather small (albeit more media covered) percentage of the worldwide film industry...but for every TOTAL RECALL there is a THE RAID, or OLD BOY, or BATTLE ROYALE....for every UNDERWORLD there is a LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, or NIGHT WATCH...and for every sappy romantic comedy there are films like THE PRINCESS & THE WARRIOR, PERSEPOLIS and LE FABULEAUX DESTINE D'AMELIÉ's all out there you just gotta hunt for it because it's not media-covered as much.

Take documentaries. I just saw (and adored) JIRO DREAMS Of SUSHI and I wondered why films like that aren't more front and center than they are. I can't recall the last time I was that entertained in the theatre. A film by a young New York filmmaker no less (simply not a Hollywood one).

Just because Hollywood is creatively bankrupt does not mean the rest of the world is, and hopefully that means the rest of the world will get more of a spotlight.

At April 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM , Blogger Justin said...

Good point on the TR original story. I just wanted to use the Priest line ;)

At April 2, 2012 at 8:39 AM , Blogger RobB said...

Interestingly, this is the second recent remake involving Colin Farrell. I'm a huge fan of FRIGHT NIGHT so was very cautious about seeing that particular remake. The only thing that might get me to watch it on cable is the almighty David Tennant.

Sure the original TOTAL RECALL differed from the PKD material, but it was one of Arnie's best movies for what it was - some nifty SF-nal ideas and lots of dumb action. I haven't watched this trailer yet (and probably won't until it comes across my TV screen) so I can't speak to its merits either way, but plan on avoiding it.

At April 2, 2012 at 9:14 AM , Blogger Kristin said...

I'm so torn. The original is just plain nostalgic for me. I doubt I'd make an effort to see this in the theatre, but I'll be curious as to how it turns out...

At April 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM , Blogger Bryce L. said...

Well said, but I find the Spider-Man remake even worse. That was only 10 years ago, and yet it will still bring in tons. We're just teaching movie makers to do it more.

I'd like to say I'll stand by my principals, but yeah, I'll still go see both these movies. :)

At April 2, 2012 at 9:26 AM , Blogger RobB said...

On one hand, yes it is silly that SPIDEY is getting rebooted. ON the other hand (besides four fingers and a thumb) how many different actors have played James Boned in film? That's how I'm viewing the new SPIDEY flick

At April 2, 2012 at 9:36 AM , Blogger Bryce L. said...

I agree and I'm fine with it, but this one's even starting all over from the beginning again, isn't it? I'm actually excited about it, but at the same time, it just seems like we're asking to get reboots every couple years. That's just silly I think. (In my mind I've taken this all the way to Idiocracy happening. :D)

At April 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM , Blogger WordTipping said...

I think PKD is popular in Hollywood because his novels & short stories are remarkably easy to transfer to the big screen. While the adaptations may not be accurate to the novel, the central themes are easy to adapt. They also focus on topics that are still relevant and understandable to most viewers.

I think this bleed over into publishing has already happened. The blockbuster mentality of today's publishing world really pushes the idea of risk mitigation, esp. when paired with shrinking revenue.

How else do you explain the fact that the average brick and mortar store has more shelf space dedicated to "Young Adult Paranormal Romance" than the rest of SciFi/Fantasy combined. Why is every new YA series heralded as "...the next Harry Potter." Worse, why are so many of the NYT Bestsellers autobiographies, cookbooks, etc from some recently famous person? Because publishing is already falling prey to the Hollywood mentality.


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