Thursday, June 11, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Hollywood Edition

In the past, I don't know, sayyyy 10 years? There's been a growing trend in Hollywood. I think you know what I'm talking about. Movie makers have been clamoring to get these old beasts on celluloid. No no, I'm not talking about celebrity vagina. I'm talking about the "reboot". Big time studios have been trying to think of the next best thing they can reboot, rehash, remake, refuck, redo and retune. Some of them are great! And then some of them, well, they deserve to be forgotten. But is this a reflection of where we're at as a creative society? More importantly, does a "reboot" successfully showcase a director/producer's visionary ability?


A lot of you might disagree. That's perfectly fine, you ingrates. But hear me out. Sure, doing a remake of a movie doesn't involve much thinking. I mean, the story's already there. As a director, you already know how certain scenes are played out and what goes where and what does what. Sure, that doesn't take much of a toll on the creative process. But this is how, as they say, they "seperate the men from the Gods".

Now, to argue this point, let me pose this question: What's better to choose from (if you're a movie maker)? A brand new screenplay that could be kind of iffy meaning you're gonna be taking a gamble by trying to transform it into a full length film? OR, choose a film that you KNOW was either good or bad and depending on the size of your cajones, challenge yourself?

Let's use two examples. Tim Burton made his Batman franchise in the late 80's early 90's. The first movie grossed over $40 million in its opening weeekend. They were well received. They went in a particular direction. Joel Schumacher decided to drive and crash into the Batman house and destroy everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. Children's bodies were mangled, the parents were slaughtered. And the opening weekend for Batman & Robin was around $40 million. So that was that. Then, Christopher Nolan (thank God) came in and with a little fairy dust and a great writing staff, laid waste to all the previous movies by coming out with a darker, meaner Batman machine. Everybody went bat shit crazy (no pun intended) over it and The Dark Knight grossed over $158 million in its opening weekend and even got some Oscar nominations. Now, let's take a look at The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee and released in 2003. Apparently, nobody liked it. They thought it was a big green piece of turd. Its opening weekend (which wasn't that bad) grossed over $62 million. "A talented director wasted on a poorly plotted and weakly acted film. Not even the visual effects are salvageable," critic Wesley Lovell stated. So yeah, apparently it was bad. But someone (Louis Leterrier) decided he could remake it and blow people's minds. He figured he had the cajones to do it. Despite the fact that the movie was ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, he thought he can regain the people's faith in this massive green colored beast (as if anybody originally cared). The studios marketed it as "not a sequel, but a reboot". They even figured if they plugged in the respectable Hulk title of "Incredible", the people would finally get what they've been dying to see. They wanted everybody to disregard Lee's original Hulk movie and take this one as the OFFICIAL movie to best represent our angry super-hero. Guess how much it did at the box office it's opening weekend? Go on, take a guess? $55 million. That's $7 million less than Lee's version.

Now, aside from the financial points, WAS it a better movie? In my opinion? No. The movie did not need to be made! Leterrier's Hulk wasn't THAT bad. But it wasn't THAT much better either. I would've just written off Lee's version as mediocre, but that would be about it. The fact that Hollywood hyped up Leterrier's Hulk as a "much needed reboot" led me to believe that it was going to be 100 x's better! But it wasn't. What a huge waste of greens (pun intended).

So, there you have it. Two fine examples of franchise reboots. Everybody knows that Christopher Nolan now has a place in Heaven for him because of his amazingly re-imagined Batman movies. And because of that, you begin to look through your DVD racks for his other movies and realize, "Whoa, this guy is unbelievable." He's like Mr. Miyagi who took a snivelling little Jersey brat and turned him into a killing machine (well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but hey, if he swept the leg any harder he could've busted a main artery and caused internal bleeding which in turn would kill his opponent). Now, Nolan's Batman is a prolific example of what ALL directors need to do when rebooting something. And Leterrier's Hulk is a prime example of Tinseltown's premature ejaculation. I must point out again, LEE'S VERSION WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD.

Like Capt. Pike said to James Kirk in Abrams extraordinarly impressive reboot of Star Trek, "Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mothers and yours. I dare you to do better."

Here are some upcoming reboot rumors and happenings you might want to look out for:
  • Predators (Robert Rodriguez)
  • Ghostbusters III (no director yet, but the writers for The Office have taken over screenplay duties)
  • Clash of the Titans (fuck, it's Louis Leterrier! But hey, it's got Sam Worthington.)
  • 21 Jump Street (Jonah Hill's got his dirty hands all over this one)
  • Rambo V (even though it's more of a sequel to the last reboot Rambo IV)
  • Robocop (Darren Aronofsky's still iffy on doing it)
  • Aliens (apparently it's a prequel with Ridley Scott's little brother, Tony, taking over)
  • The Warriors (Again, Tony Scott)
  • Conan The Destroyer (Just confirmed, Marcus Nispel is directing)

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