Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Voice of Reason #2: 80's remakes

Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future (1985)

For the past few years there has been a growing trend in Hollywood. Find a much-treasured film that audiences loved when they were younger (most likely made in the seventies or eighties) give it a fresh-coat of paint, a 21st Century spin and sit back and watch the dollars roll in (most of the time anyway).

Look no further than recent remakes such as Footloose (2011) and Fame (2009). Both were originally successful and much-loved films from the 1980's that were remade and reworked for a newer generation (as well as those rosey-eyed, older generations) and both were relatively successful in terms of the money they made. They benefited greatly from the nostalgia felt for the original movies.

Fair enough I say. It's a clever and good way for movie studios to benefit from those films we all hold close to our hearts. I must admit the updated versions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and The Karate Kid (2010) both benefited from my love of their predecessors' to earn my money, even if they offered little in the way of originality or surprise; anyone familiar with the originals is not there to be told a new story; just to delight in the same story being retold.

The list of films and franchises that are being or have been re-booted or been given a new lease of life goes on and on. They vary from the moderately successful, such as Clash of the Titans (2010), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), The Three Musketeers (2011) and Starsky and Hutch (2004) to the relatively pointless and unnecessary like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Predators (both 2010) and Rambo (2008)

To varying extents they work. Which is why it is being done more and more. This year we'll see not one but two different takes on the Snow White fairytale immortalised in classic Walt Disney cartoon with Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror. 80's television series 21 Jump Street is getting a big screen adaptation and there is a remake of comic-book film Judge Dredd (1995) on the way. 

But, as a lover of cinema and many a classic 1980's movie, is see other brilliant films from my childhood (and before I was born) targeted for a remake. Why? Because there are quite simply some films out there that you cannot remake. Why take the risk of making a botch-job that sours memories of the original for the sake of an extra bit of cash? This got me thinking about which 5 classic films would be the greatest examples of this. Here is what I came up with:

1) Back to the Future (1985)
One of my most favourite films of all time, Back to the Future is a completely original and quintessential 1980's movie. Being witness to Marty McFly rocking out to "Johnny B. Goode" and not being played by the brilliant Michael J. Fox would send my brains splattering across the living room wall right there and then. Please Hollywood, leave BTTF be.

2) Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Much like Michael J. Fox and Marty McFly in Back to the Future, there is only one Ferris Bueller and that's Matthew Broderick. A high school slacker determined to make the most of his day off of school in the city, Ferris Bueller is a character that would look weird if ever played by anyone other. Definitely another Hollywood remake that should never be made.

3) Die Hard (1988)
Bruce Willis is New York cop John McClane in this action-packed 1988 movie. With three sequels since then and a fifth entry into the franchise due in 2013, rewinding the clock and remaking the Die Hard franchise would be a big mistake. No-one handles the action set-pieces and sarcastic quips quite as well as Willis.

4) Ghostbusters (1984)
Whilst rumours of a third or 'reunion' Ghostbusters movie have circulated for years, there is also a possibility here for a 'next generation' style remake. Another film that my no means requires a modern remake, the classic and original Ghostbusters still stacks up against films today as a hilarious and entertaining sci-fi comedy film.

5) Gremlins (1984)
Annoyingly, the one the film on this list I can see being most likely to receive a remake, Gremlins still deserves it's place on this list. Another quintessential eighties film, Gremlins would quite possibly have the most to gain from an up-to-date remake or reboot, with the little critters being similar to the recent Alvin and the Chipmunks films. However likely, it should still be left as it is.

What does anyone else think? Which other films out there can you quite simply not remake?

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