June 13th, 2013
What’s your take on film remakes?
Are they necessary? Certainly, they’re inevitable — and a common staple in Hollywood.
Take the “Superman,” which soars into the theaters this weekend, with Henry Cavill reinterpreting the saga of a Krypton baby hurled in a steel case to Kanvas with the familiar identity crisis: He’s Clark Kent, too, but he has the dubious mission to save the world.
Or the new “Spider-man,” with Andrew Garfield replacing Tobey Maguire, arriving in 2014, spreading its web — again — perhaps for a second round of trilogies.
There’s the CG-era “Godzilla,” too, which will be filmed in the Hawaii's back yard once more, despite the failure of the last feature on the destructive creature from Japan produced here by Chris Lee, our then local-boy Hollywood producer.
Remakes provide jobs for screen-hungry actors and valid revenues for the state economy, and yes, they even reach a new audience not acquainted with earlier versions, even if darn nearly everything — vintage and new — are at your nearest video shop or a click away online.
Just as Broadway currently is hosting a reboot of “Annie,” yet another "Annie"movie is due, too — a few tomorrows from now — with Quvenzhane Wallis as the titular figure, Jamie Foxx as kinda a variation of Danny Warbucks, and Sandra Bullock as Miss Hannigan. The producers include rapper Jay-Z and actor Will Smith, who discarded the notion to have the Smith daughter Willow play the titular figure in hopes that this one won’t be a hard-knock-life like “After Earth” (considered a major modern-day bomb) starring papa Will and son/brother Jaden.
Still in a galaxy, a bit far, far away — Disney revivals of the “Star Wars” franchise are expected.
Which begs the question: How often in a lifetime should a tale as old as time be resurrected?
For one thing, fans adore certain elements and extraordinary heroes. That’s why “Fast and Furious” can go on and on, “Batman” can get his Batmobile out of the garage, and yes, the timely and timeless Superman can be reborn once a decade, even if the last one went one round, and kaput. But hot rods and good deeds seem to have a lot of fuel and appeal, and go quite the distance, don’t you think?
Yet not everything yesteryear is super special. This season's “The Great Gatsby” with Leonardo DiCaprio was a good Gatsby, not great, perhaps a skosh better than the original with Robert Redford because of the grandeur and spectacle of modern-day filmmaking. But did we really need the newbie?
Sequel-itis is as common as, well, the common cold. Old often works, for the most part. And when it hits big, Hollywood commonly stalks to make a part two, a part three, and so on.
Watching Ironman over and over is a good example. That’s why Indiana Jones is legendary. And why, in the right hands, “Star Trek” can be periodically remounted.
That’s why there’s been a “Pirates of the Caribbean” catalogue. And an “X-Men” or “Wolverine” flick. We savor the successes of some, but not all.
There’s always a new generation of viewers to fill the seats. The older crowd will still flock to a new species of an old favorite. It’s easier to sell what has been wildly popular.
And heck, perhaps that’s why Roman numerals were invented: “Jurassic Park I, I, III.” Get it?
IV is inevitable. Often, though, the franchise runs out of steam — or bite. Think “Jaws.” Nothing could beat the original.
But there’s always an attempt to bring back yesterday. “Rocky” is being reinvented, but not for the screen for the moment. After bitten by the movie bug over the decades, Sylvester Stallone is taking the show to Broadway. A different genre.
Ditto, “The Wizard of Oz.” James Franco starred in a reinvented Oz earlier this year, but the latest buzz is that a spectacle on the Great White Way is destined next year, somewhere over the rainbow.
Sometimes a remake means the birth of a star; Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls” comes to mind. But please, we don’t need a “Dreamgirls” redux in the next decade.
So where do you stand on the influx of relaunches?
Tomorrow: Hollywood should leave film jewels alone.