Monday, May 3, 2010

I think I've seen this before....

That, my friends is a picture of Hank Azaria, as he will appear in a movie version of The Smurfs, as Gargamel.

I have a friend who likes to complain a lot about the "Hollywood recyclery," and the lack of new ideas. I admit, that picture above is hard to defend, because the film just smells of consumer marketing run amuck. I mean, it's the same director as Home Alone 3. Y'know, the one you didn't see. This is a production made to trade on a marketable name for a large opening weekend, and who cares after that?

Sorta like what they did with A Nightmare on Elm Street this past weekend.

At the end of the day it's so easy to complain about things like the announcement of a Magic 8-Ball movie, or a "re-imagining" of Commando. It's lazy, shallow, and doesn't engage the creativity of the writers and directors out there who want to do something new, but it just won't sell. Sell to the studio, or sell to the public.

Look at an amazing film like Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. One of, if not the best "entertainment" films of the new millennium. Highly witty, and highly original, playing within the "neo noir" style. Nobody bothered to see it upon initial release. Shane Black, as a writer, had been behind huge hits like Lethal Weapon, and was directing...bomb.

Yet, that same year....The top ten grossing films included 4 remakes, War of the Worlds, King Kong, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman Begins. One of those movies was terrific, one was awful, and two were just...pointless. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang was vastly better than 3 of them, and at least as good as the other.

Yet...I am a devout fan of Batman Begins, and Christopher Nolan's actual re-imagining of the Batman mythos. Those films would not exist if it wasn't for Hollywood's desire to exploit a marketable name. That sort of thing is what puts me on the fence.

A good movie can come from anywhere. I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean unabashedly, despite the fact I spent 4 months leading up to it's release thinking, "a movie based on a theme park ride?" Knowing the conventional wisdom would send things the other way.

But why not? I mean, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio found something within that ride to spark their imagination and created a fun script. Gore Verbinski took it and whipped up a really entertaining swashbuckler.

Maybe I'm easy, but I've come to the point where I remove myself from the source material. I take each film on it's own merits, and judge it as such. I mean, remakes are nothing new in Hollywood, and they can be as good as anything else, or as bad. I, personally, prefer the Pierce Brosnan The Thomas Crown Affair to the Steve McQueen version, but, in both cases, the movie works on it's own.

The new Nightmare on Elm Street might be horrible, but I also feel like if those same filmmakers tried to make an original movie, horror or otherwise, that film would be just as horrible. I think the relative awfulness of that movie has little to do with the source material, and to break it down to, "it's a re-make, or based on an old TV show, or a toy, or's gonna suck," is surrendering to the lack of creativity we're bitching about.

I just think it's worthwhile to take every creative enterprise as a new opportunity, and praise or damn it based on it's own merits.

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