By Christopher Campbell | Spout November 30, 2011 at 11:26AM
Morning Pour is your daily stop for quick links, news commentary and trend-spotting. Here are your five discussion topics involving remakes for Wednesday, November 30, 2011:
1. The remake that shouldn't bother anyone: "Scarface" and "Chopping Mall"
If there is any indisputable proof that remakes can be great, Brian DePalma's 1983 version of "Scarface" is Exhibit A. Part of its success is in the total reinvention of the character from Howard Hawks' 1932 original. Now Universal is moving ahead with a new incarnation and has just hired screenwriter David Ayer ("Training Day"; "The Fast and the Furious") to pen the adaptation. Some bloggers are now seeing Denzel Washington as a possibility for the title role, but that might be too obvious. However, it also could be a good way to reinvent the character once again. But Ayer shouldn't turn this into a generic urban thriller, either. Given that DePalma's film is already such a part of hip hop culture, I'd love to see the new "Scarface" geared toward or embraced by country music fans, or women, or hackers, or children. Okay, any of those ideas would make this a legitimate bother for almost everyone. Just let's not have any "say hello to my little friend" references, okay?
For different reasons, the newly announced yet unsurprising news that "Chopping Mall" (aka "Killbots") is being redone shouldn't upset anyone, even those of us who get a kick out of the original. The amusing thing about its announcement is that it came just a few days ahead of Black Friday, which many pointed out is nearly as scary and dangerous as being locked in a mall with killer robots. Anyway this doesn't seem to be a big budget remake and writer/director Robert Hall notes that it will be in tribute to the original's producer, Roger Corman. The "darker, supernatural spin" seems like an odd revision. Perhaps the robot security guards will now be possessed by serial killers a la "Child's Play" rather than merely malfunctioning due to a lightning storm (a la "Short Circuit"). Regardless I'm curious.
2. The remake that can't help but bother everyone: "The Evil Dead" and "Akira"
I'm going to align myself with Diablo Cody here, if only by getting shit for something: I haven't seen "The Evil Dead." Maybe if I do I'll be concerned for Cody's script revisions for the remake, which might not bother as many people as it could since original director Sam Raimi and original producers Robert Talpert and Bruce Campbell are all involved. In a recent interview with Collider, Cody tries to ease fans about her participation:
I was nervous to take the job because I thought “Ugh, I’m gonna get shit for this. People are not gonna like this, because all people know of me is like Juno and they think I’m gonna pollute Evil Dead with like wacky dialogue and cute stuff and folk music, and it’s like “No, look I understand what this is. I’m interested in storytelling here and making it scary and good and true to the original.” I feel like people will hopefully see Young Adult and go “Oh, okay that’s a horrifying movie maybe she could pull it off
As for "Akira," which I've also never seen the entirety of, newly revealed plot points are infuriating fans of the original. None more so than Topless Robot's Rob Bricken, who illustrates his post with some angry illustrations and then concludes:
this is almost exactly what I thought it was going to be -- i.e., not Akira. Oh, it's a dumb, 90-minute, mediocre-budgeted, dumbed-down American movie interpretation of Akira, but it's not Akira. No sense of disenfranchised youth or rebellion against an oppressive, patro-fascist society? Not Akira. No genuine conflict between Tetsuo and Kaneda? Not Akira. No Japan? Not Akira (I do believe some works of art are fundamentally tied to times and places; I don't think you could make a modern Japanese version of Easy Rider and have it mean the same thing, and I don't think you can make Akira outside of '80s Japan [which does mean yes, I think a modern Japanese remake of Akira would also be diluted, but anyways]).
3. The TV series remake with the surprise Hollywood director:
I don't usually comment on TV news, and I don't really care that much about "The Munsters" being redone again (let's not forget "The Munsters Today"), even with the surprising involvement of Bryan Singer. But I guess we can be glad to get this instead of the Wayans' film adaptation that was in the works last decade? Anyway, I'm just writing about this because it reminded me to put it out there that there should be more next-generation remake/sequel series like "The New Leave it to Beaver." There are so many nostalgic people in their 30s right now who would probably love to see any of their favorite '80s sitcoms revisited with the kids now grown-up with kids of their own. How about a new "Growing Pains" starring Mike's uber-Christian clan? Maybe a rehash of "Just the Ten of Us" where we attempt to follow every kid's own large clan (it's like a sitcom version of those multi-child reality shows!). My first choice is to see a return of "Small Wonder" in which it has to be explained why Aunt Vicky still looks like a little girl. Meanwhile, as an inside joke, brother Jamie (played by Jerry Supiran, now a sportwriter and on Twitter) grew up to head a Smashing Pumpkins-type band. Ideas are out there...
4. Releasing the original: "The Raid," "Knuckle" and "The Bengali Detective"
It isn't too common for us to get a remake in the U.S. without seeing some sort of distribution for the original foreign film, but it does happen (try to see "The Tourist" precursor "Anthony Zimmer" in Region 1 form). Lately studios are grabbing rights to films at festivals with strict interest in remakes rather than the completed works just screened, and this was an especially popular move at this year's Toronto Film Festival, where most of the foreign titles in the Midnight Madness section were swept up for such purpose. Fortunately, there are some good intentions out there if you pay attention.
While Fox Searchlight is working on the narrative remake of "The Bengali Detective" with director Stephen Frears, the underrated documentary about an Indian private eye with dance contest dreams can be watched on HBO networks, including On Demand and HBO GO.
Speaking of HBO, they are redoing another Sundance documentary, "Knuckle," as a dramatic series with writer Irvine Welsh and director Jody Hill on board for the pilot. If you want to see the insane original, which is crudely made but still worthwhile, it opens in major cities December 9th.
- Sony, who is remaking the awesome Indonesian action movie "The Raid" via Screen Gems, has confirmed that Sony Pictures Classics will also release Gareth Evans' original some time next year. This version will have a new score -- which might be unfortunate in and of itself; I liked the intense music employed when I saw it at TIFF -- and might end up at Sundance first, according to The Playlist.
5. The remake that will outdo the original: "Maniac" and "Oldboy"
As someone who doesn't love horror films, I haven't seen the original 1980 slasher flick "Maniac," nor do I like what director Alexandre Aja does with his brand of remake (ex: "The Hills Have Eyes," "Piranha 3D"), turning already gory films into disturbing exercises dealing in trauma over scares. But if anyone else is interested in seeing Elijah Wood attacking and scalping women, check out the "Maniac" redo, and first check out the new images over at Bloody Disgusting. I already find Wood to be kinda creepy, so I'll probably pass on further stills let alone the finished film.
Meanwhile, I'm getting more and more excited about Spike Lee's remake of "Old Boy" -- which is really just a new adaptation of the original manga -- after reading producer Roy Lee's recent comments to Collider:
It’s very similar, but we’ve added new elements. Or, Mark Protosevich has come up with new elements to it that will throw off the audience who have seen the original movie because there are new characters and new situations that present themselves in a way that changes the story but eventually go in the same direction.
The ending will be something that the audiences will all be…especially the fans of the original will be very happy with. In fact, some may consider it to be a bit darker.
I hope those of us familiar with the original ending will also be thrown off. As for just how much darker it needs to be, Stuart Heritage posts some ideas at the Guardian Film Blog. Skipping over the spoiler parts, here are some nutty suggestions:
Dae-su could go into sepsis. Or set fire to a box of puppies. Or go about human-centipeding the puppies, THEN set fire to the box. If new Oldboy wants to go darker than old Oldboy, that's the kind of level it should probably be aiming for.
Read the rest of that interview with Lee for lots more remake stuff, including how "Hunger Games" may have killed "Battle Royale," when we can expect the "Poltergeist" remake, and plans to reboot "The Ring" and "Grudge" franchises already.
Bonus: the remake you know you want: "Star Wars" With Unicorns