The Eminent Domain of Movie Remakes

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Then how about you do this whole ask-questions-then-answer-them-yourself thing without me completely? Or at least preface your questions with a warning that you're liable to ignore the answers, so I know not to waste my time replying to them.
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You're avoiding the counter to this that I've given multiple times. So I'll cut right through it: do you think, in total, that remakes have been inferior to the originals?
I couldn't say for certain at this moment whether most remakes are inferior, but the quality of the remakes probably has nothing to do with what message they contain.
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Okay, you can't say "for certain." But what do you think? Honestly, if we made a list right now of all the remakes we could think of, and accounting for the fact that you can't be certain, do you actually believe we wouldn't put significantly more in the "Worse" pile than the "Better" one? This is a helpful question, because if you say No, then the point is pretty much made. If you say Yes, then I can, in good conscience, decide that this is definitely a waste of time.

But as for the quality being unrelated to the message: that leads me right back to a premise I suggested before. I suggested that the best stories intertwine form and function. Do you agree? If you do, then the only way there would be no loss in quality by taking only one of the two would either be by, what? Sheer coincidence?



Then how about you do this whole ask-questions-then-answer-them-yourself thing without me completely? Or at least preface your questions with a warning that you're liable to ignore the answers, so I know not to waste my time replying to them.
I stopped asking five posts ago, and gave you my honest POV multiple times. You wrote a decent essay, not your best, but I enjoyed it and our debate. Now I guess I'll leave you to deal with my disagreement despite your best efforts.



Okay, you can't say "for certain." But what do you think? Honestly, if we made a list right now of all the remakes we could think of, and accounting for the fact that you can't be certain, do you actually believe we wouldn't put significantly more in the "Worse" pile than the "Better" one? This is a helpful question, because if you say No, then the point is pretty much made. If you say Yes, then I can, in good conscience, decide that this is definitely a waste of time.
I honestly couldn't say. I tend to enjoy remakes, myself, just for the curiosity of how it was remade, if nothing else. There aren't too many I hate. And I can't go along with a worse/better dichotomy. Some remakes are good in their own way, not better or worse.

I know what you want me to say, but I'm only being honest here.



But as for the quality being unrelated to the message: that leads me right back to a premise I suggested before. I suggested that the best stories intertwine form and function. Do you agree? If you do, then the only way there would be no loss in quality by taking only one of the two would either be by, what? Sheer coincidence?
Yes and no.

That may seem facetious, but it's not.



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Er, nobody actually sets out to make an inferior movie.


Based on what?


So? They didn't have to use the Chinese. They could have used a terrorist state or organization. Heck, they didn't have to remake the film at all. None of the purported reasons you're giving here support the conclusions you're giving.
Of course they didn't have to remake it in the first place. But what is the point of remaking a good movie (and they almost never remake a movie that was not popular the first time) if you are going to do it exact same way?

What difference does it make how they changed it because as I said before the original movie was not anti Communist as you seem to think? It was satirizing the Red Scare. The real villain was the mother and her husband, a commie baiting senator, not the Chinese. In the movie's satirical prism, the McCarthy witch hunts was a tool of the communists. The threat to the United States was not Communists in government, it was anti communist politicians who were the real communists. The real threat was us, the enemy from within, the reflection in the mirror, not outside forces. You think the movie's politics was conservative when it was leftist. The problem with the remake isn't that it changed the message, it was it didn't try to change the story more to make it more sense in a contemporary setting. The didn't have anything new to say, it didn't subvert the meaning of the original, it just watered it down.
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That's what I would change with my magic wand: It would be interesting if more movies got remade because the execution didn't live up to the premise.

I can think of bunches of bungled attempts that deserve another try.



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i haven't finished reading this whole thread yet but i just wanted to address this early on post real quick before i go to bed and finish reading it tomorrow.

I think it's a pretty cheap way to make a point; it's one thing to stand on the shoulders of someone else, but quite another to step on them, which is pretty much what they're doing when they supersede an older film with a message contrary to its own.
i guess i don't see it as stepping on someone else's work or "ripping it apart" or anything like that. i mean, in the examples you listed where the message of the film was pretty much completely changed, it doesn't really cheapen the original, does it? actually i would find it sort of interesting to watch both versions of The Manchurian Candidate back-to-back (i've never actually seen either) as a sort of history lesson that sort of represents the relativity for the period in which it was made. from how you describe it, it seems like one way you could look at it is the message of the original was "communism bad" and the message of the remake is "capitalism bad"... but to me it sounds like the actual message of both films is the same: the terror, corruption or destruction that can occur by allowing any group or government to have too much power.
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Like the Essay, Yoda.

I said before that it's a mistake to remake a movie and was corrected by someone.

My thoughts on movie remakes is this:

There are 5 different types of remake.

#1: War Of The Worlds for instance, a remake of the 1950s film, labelled as a remake of the 1950s film, so it's even farther removed from the source material. Makes it a terrible movie.

#2: Carpenters The Thing as an example, said to be a remake of The Thing From Another World, yet it follows the original source material more closely, making for a completely different and much better movie.

#3: A Nightmare On Elm Street or even Psycho, pointless 'reimagining' or even a shot for shot remake of an original idea, soully for the purpose of seeing if they can do it any better. It's a waste of studio money, a waste of audience money and 100% of the time it makes a terrible movie.

#4: Man Of Steel (2013), Spider Man or Batman Begins for instance, are for instance based on comic books, or even Abrams' Star Trek, they're all based on a source material that is so vast, remakes, reboots, new movies, new takes etc are pretty much expected (or even warranted) after 20 or 30 years (sometimes less). Some movies are based on graphic novels etc but the roots are the same, based on a vast source. Usually they make for good viewing too, sometimes not, but when they're good, they're usually very very good.

#5: The nostalgic sequel. Super 8, Superman Returns and Paul are prime examples, ok Paul is a comedy designed to be that way, but Super 8 and Superman Returns combine the elements of the originals, for the soul purpose of bringing in the older audience who saw the original and want a bit of nostalgia. Anyone who's wondering why Super 8 is mentioned here, watch Close Encounters and E.T and you've already seen Super 8. Nostalgia works, but often it gets boring after 30 minutes of being wafted in your face.

Anyway, my thought done with now, again, nice essay, Yoda.



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I thought that Hollywood's Fright Night remake was good, it ventured into a lot of territory the original didn't and I enjoyed it.



Remakes of movies are often disastrous, because they totally cut the heart and soul out of the original film. Unfortunately, re-makes of films are becoming more and more common, because Hollywood is running (or has run) out of creative ideas. When both Planet of the Apes and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho were remade, they both went over like lead balloons (get the drift, everybody?), and with ample reason; they were both horrible remakes of really good films. '
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From what I hear, Steven Spielberg wants to do a re-make of the great, golden oldie but keeper of a classic film, West Side Story. I shudder to think what the results would be if a re-make of the film West Side Story were done by anybody, including Steven Spielberg!

Steven Spielberg, if you're listening in....please re-think your decision to re-make West Side Story . The original West Side Story won ten well-earned Academy Awards, including Best Picture, when it came out late in the fall of 1961. Imho, absolutely nothing beats the original film. Mr. Spielberg...please leave this classic alone! Thanks!
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On the subject of just the films mentioned here, I will say that save Meryl Streep's performance, I really didn't care for the remake of The Manchurian Candidate and really didn't care for Flubber either...there was too much emphasis on the special effects in Flubber and not enough on the characters. One of the most appealing elements of The Absent-Minded Professor was the lovability of the Ned Brainard character so beautifully realized by Fred MacMurray. His performance is the heart of that movie and it just wasn't there in the remake. I will say though that I LOVED Eddie Murphy's remake of The Nutty Professor...Eddie respected Jerry Lewis' original vision yet put his own stamp on the character and created five other characters as well.



Remakes may simply be evidence of a lack of creative ideas or a conspiratorial plot to confuse the masses. I noticed that a lot of movies are made from a template and that once the current template is no longer producing entertaining scenes, a new one is created.

"If the message of The Manchurian Candidate can be mutated for each generation, then it is no longer a story itself but a mere delivery mechanism for each idea."

I would say that movies can be press releases for events and ideas, with the effect being that the masses become susceptible to taking part in these events and incorporating these ideas into their lives, before society at-large adopts such radical changes.



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A re-make once and a while can be a good thing. While there are many examples of bad remakes, there are perhaps just as many examples of good remakes - even remakes that are better than the original. If a remake is to be attempted, there must be a good rationale, other than just "values have changed" and "we can make a good buck on this".



Remakes provide the movie industry with a guaranteed income. That income is critical if the industry is to take the risks required to fund new innovative projects. Those remakes are the movie industries money makers and keep the whole show on the road. So I guess we need them, I didn't read all the comments before so apologies if I'm repeating stuff.



You're definitely not repeating stuff, but that's not really what the essay's about: it's about remaking films in a way that subverts the message of the original.



Sorry to clarify....subverting the original message is unimportant as long as the sequel makes money.