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From Thumbs Up To Thumbs Down Sequels/Remakes

I’ve touched on my ambivalence of sequels in some of my past columns. It’s not that I dismiss them out of hand, because I don’t. It is just that I see them, generally speaking, as lacking in imagination. That is not to say that there aren’t sequels out there that are masterful. There certainly are. I still call “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi” as two of the best of any science fiction franchise in history. Still, the general rule in my eyes is that a tired old sequel could and often does take the place of what could be a new, original, and potentially industry altering idea. With that being said, however, I do have some affinity for remakes if the original source material is respected. The same challenges that sequels have are some of the ones that remakes have. These are a lack of originality; casting mistakes, and a sense in the audience’s eyes that the re-creation could never measure up to the original as they have a built-in expectation for what they should and will see. Ill speak about some of these starting with the ones that I feel just shouldn’t have been remadeat all. No list of the worst remakes over last few years would be complete without including that steaming lump “Total Recall”. The 2012 remake of the 1990 classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker bored with his life on a futuristic earth who goes to a company called Rekall that can implant company implants false vacation memories in people’s consciousness in order to transport them places they would otherwise not be able to go to. The original Total Recall was a modern classic with an almost campy sci-fi feel. Colin Farrell’s remake from 2012 was big on modern technology but had none of the originals charm. To be perfectly frank, I found it a soulless bore devoid of any spirit or camp of the original. Twenty-two years of technological advances in cinema certainly can’t save a dull script. Therein lies the problem with remakes. Standing alone, I may have been more than willing to give it a chance, but naturally I compare it to the original. None of the numerous remakes of Godzilla or King-Kong have been able to measure up either. Jumanji, Fantastic Four and the karate Kid and also didn’t need to be remade. They were simply just not enjoyable at all. There are a few exceptions over the last couple of years though. Many didn’t like it and it was certainly savaged by the critics, but I felt the newer Robo-Cop did an admirable job of trying to measure up to the ultra-violent sci fi classic from the eighties. I know it is hearsay to compare probably one of the greatest movies from the eighties to its 2017 remake, and believe me, I admit it isn’t in the same ballpark but if you were to consider it in its own universe, the all-female Ghostbuster starring Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy wasn’t terrible. Technically speaking, Spiderman:Homecoming isn’t a strict remake, but rather a reimagining of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movie from the early 2000’s. To me it was easily superior to that one. There were other very solid remakes as well including any of the latest versions of Planet of the Apes, any of the newer Star Trek movies starring Chris Pine and even if we are going to go into the realm of television remakes, HBO seems to have struck gold with Westworld. I guess the moral of the story is, you take a risk with any sequel or remake, but when you really think about it, is that any different than an original script? Not really. The best you can say is that if you go into any movie with an open mind, you have just as good a chance of being thrilled as you do of being bored. If a movie or television show is made well you do not mind going back to that which is familiar and made you fall in love with sci-fi in the first place.


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