“Why would you remake Robocop? You wouldn’t remake Gone with the Wind.”
– Comic Book Daily Writer Ed Campbell
When I lived in the Barrie area, I used to have weekly Wednesday night dinners with two of my friends from the local comic shop. It was a pretty solid excuse to get out of the house for the evening and geek out or perhaps Geek Hard as the phrase goes (Andrew’s smiling at that, I know he is). Recently, I was back in town and I met up with a few of those friends, including Ed Campbell, and discussion turned to movies and the Robocop remake came up. Then came the opening lines of this column.
While it may seem a little bit on the extreme side, Ed’s kind of got a point… well for me anyways. Robocop is pretty well perfect. There isn’t anything really worth changing in it. The effects may seem a little dated and it is a film firmly entrenched in/making fun of the 80’s, but you could really say similar things about Gone with the Wind or Citizen Kane. By today’s standards, the films may be dated but they are also timeless.
All of this lead to a conclusion.
I’m kind of tired of pointless remakes.
Every week we hear stories of yet another film that is apparently going to be remade. And most of the time it’s a film that doesn’t need it. Robocop, Evil Dead, fuck, the Dukes of Hazzard is being rumored to fall into remake/reboot land YET AGAIN!
A few years ago, I was discussing Lord of the Rings with a friend of mine. She’s a huge fan of the books as is her family and for the most part they hate the films. Her dream was that Hollywood would see the light and remake Lord of the Rings in a way closer to the books, possibly an HBO mini-series or something of that ilk. Long form getting everything in.
At the time, I kind of scoffed at the idea. Whether you liked them or not, Lord of the Rings made a super-ton of money. Gold-plated rocket car money. To even think about a remake seemed rather unlikely. This was in 2002.
Now I’m not so sure.
Take The Amazing Spider-Man.
I know there are a lot of people out there who didn’t like Raimi’s Spider-Man films and I can kind of get that but these are films that made a lot of money and a lot of people enjoyed them. I’m one of those people… except for part three. I’m one of those guys who will buy complete sets of movies just because I like having the complete set (for example I own all THREE Robocops) but I still haven’t seen the DVD or blu-ray at a price low enough that I’d consider buying The Spider-Man Trilogy. It was that unsatisfying a film.
Despite the third part being a piece of crap, I have no real desire to see The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure the effects look cool and he looks to be a more wise-cracking Spidey but on a whole, I just don’t need to see another Spider-Man origin.
You don’t have to reboot/remake everything.
Just make another movie.
Take The Incredible Hulk for example. I enjoyed the hell out of it and was it a remake? No, it was a very soft reboot. It accepted that there was another Hulk movie but it didn’t reference it nor did the film makers feel that it owed the Ang Lee version anything. They gave you a very quick origin story during the credits and it was done.
And I don’t think you even have to go that far. The Amazing Spider-Man will be a good chunk of origin. How much? We don’t really know but given the fact that Uncle Ben is being played by Martin Sheen, I think it’s safe to say he will be on screen for a while.
But why? Would it be really so hard to just do what the Incredible Hulk did? Have an origin sequence in the credits and then BLAM – you’re into the movie.
Or how about we just start the film with Peter as Spider-Man in high school?
Is that really that hard? Yes, I’m well aware that there are a lot of dumb people out there and a lot of people with no attention span, but I’m pretty sure at least 80% of them can figure out the whole “got bit by a radioactive spider” bit.
Up until recently, James Bond films didn’t connect virtually at all and lo and behold, people still went and saw them even when they changed actors!
Don’t remake Robocop. Just make another one. Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop, GO! You don’t have to be a slave to continuity if you don’t want to. Hell if Robocop looks different, just mention it offhandedly. “Wow Murphy, those upgrades to your armor sure are sweet.” There, I just set up all the changes to Robocop’s look in one sentence. Not a very good one but I’m sure if I was a writer that got paid a couple hundred thousand to write a new Robocop film, I could do a bit better.
As long as you have the character right, it doesn’t really matter how he got there. Just that he’s there now.
If you really have this awesome idea for a cyborg cop that is unique and different, make that movie and call it something else. When Nolan’s Batman series ends this summer, don’t reboot the franchise yet again. Just make another Batman movie with someone else as Batman. We don’t need an origin story again. Same goes for The Man of Steel. My mom can give you a brief rundown on Superman’s origin and I doubt she really remembers any of the films beyond the original Superman (maybe parts of 2). She didn’t really watch Lois and Clark and I highly doubt my Mom’s seen any episode of Smallville. It’s just part of the public consciousness at this point.
If you need to make so many changes that it’s no longer the same, call the film something else. If it’s exactly the same, what’s the point? Just re-release the original in theaters for a new generation to enjoy. I love seeing stuff like Spartacus and Back to The Future released on the big screen even if it’s only for two days.
Remakes and reboots should be saved for films that had a good idea but are utterly horrible. Not decent movies that did well. There should also be a time limit. A movie can’t be remade until twenty years later.
Now I have to yell at the kids to get off my lawn.
And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!