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REMAKE/REBOOT, TOMATO, TOMAHTO

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 16, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: A couple of years ago I was musing on remakes in a Jan. 14, 2016, column, and doggone if this year doesn’t look like that year, with plenty of sequels and plenty of remakes — and plenty of sequels that look like remakes. I was thinking about remaking or rebooting that column, but, oh what the heck, let’s just rerun the old one.

AS A CHILD in the 1950s, it was not unusual for me to be running around the neighborhood wearing an official Davy Crockett coonskin cap while carrying a toy rifle, which was vital for keeping the bears — or, as Davy would say, the “b’ars” — at bay in my suburban Southern California neighborhood.

And I did that, of course, because I was a huge fan of the five “Davy Crockett” episodes that aired as part of the black-and-white “Disneyland” TV series, which I watched with my family on our little 13-inch console television.

Oh, and also the two Davy Crockett movies that Disney released into local theaters — in color! (Actually just edited-together versions of the “Disneyland” episodes.)

But I never had any notion of wanting to remake the show. Nor did I think about what a modern-day CGI-enhanced version might be like. Would Davy and the bear (“b’ar”) be more like “The Revenant” if it were made today? And if so, would parents even allow their kids to see it?

I cherish the memories of those old films and I still enjoy them, if in a nostalgic kind of way.

So it’s been interesting over the years to see so many filmmakers remake movies they claim as favorites when they were younger, and what they changed.

 

Steven Spielberg often cited “A Guy Named Joe” (1943) as one of his favorite films before remaking it in 1989 as “Always.”

Ditto Martin Scorsese with “Cape Fear” (1962), which he remade in 1991.

And Tim Burton with his 2001 reinvention of “Planet of the Apes” (1968).

And Gus Van Sant with his 1998 version of “Psycho” (1960).

Other famous examples include John Carpenter and “Village of the Damned” (1960/1995), Paul Schrader and “Cat People” (1942/1982), David Cronenberg and “The Fly” (1958/1986), Adam Sandler and “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936/2002), as well as “The In-Laws” (1979/2003), “Invaders From Mars” (1953/1986), “A Kiss Before Dying” (1956/1991), “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962/2004), “Narrow Margin” (1952/1990) and many others.

All of these were made by fans who went on to become filmmakers. And some of these remakes aren’t bad, and many have earned their own fan base, of course.

But I would argue that none are improvements, and many are outright failures. So why bother? Why not just do original material instead of reworking someone else’s ideas?

So it was interesting to see so many continuing franchises reboot themselves last year in ways that were almost remakes.

I wrote last November about “Spectre” and how it seemed in many ways to be James Bond’s greatest hits, with scenes and plot elements cribbed from “Goldfinger,” “From Russia With Love,” “For Your Eyes Only,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and yes, even the first Bond film, “Dr. No.”

Of course, “Spectre” is the third film of the James Bond “reboot” — the 21st century nickname for movies that are updated remakes.

But after watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Creed” and “The Peanuts Movie,” I realize that “Spectre” isn’t the only 2015 movie to revisit past glories.

Now don’t misunderstand. I enjoyed all four of those titles.

 

“The Force Awakens” offers an enormously good time at the movies, a nostalgic point-by-point remake of the original 1977 “Star Wars” movie that offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane for longtime fans, but which is also updated with a female heroine and a slew of new characters that a modern generation can embrace.

Similarly, “Creed” restarts the “Rocky” series in a way that younger moviegoers can easily get into, even as it remakes the 1976 original, this time essentially turning Rocky — with Sylvester Stallone returning to his most famous role — into Mickey, the trainer played by Burgess Meredith in the first three “Rocky” films.

And finally, “The Peanuts Movie,” in an attempt to stay true to its roots even as it utilizes 21st century computer animation, manages to maintain its original “look” and includes just about every iconic moment of the comic strip and early cartoons — right down to a sort of cameo by “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Obviously, the next entries in the James Bond, “Star Wars,” “Rocky/Creed” and  “Peanuts” franchises will have to take things in new directions, at least to some degree.

I mean, it’s one thing to offer up rehashes of the first movie in a series, but no one wants to see a sequel that turns out to be the remake of a sequel?

Oh, wait. That’s exactly what the second “Star Trek” reboot movie did.

So maybe it is just remakes from now on.