Saturday, July 2, 2011

Remakes I want to see

Last Saturday I discussed remakes. This week I'll talk about three movies I would like to see remade, as well as why I would like to see more "re-imaginings" than remakes or reboots.

The Last Starfighter (1984)
This movie is ahead of its time because its plot works better in 2011 than it did in 1984. The basic story is that aliens who are losing a space war to an evil dictator send video games for sentient creatures to play all across the universe, in hopes of training pilots to help their cause. Earth is one of these planet, and teenager Alex Rogan gets the high score on his arcade game. Therefore he is picked to represent Earth and fight as a pilot! Since this movie was made in 1984 the video game is an arcade system. But if remade today this could be done through the online gaming and our hero could literally be the best player in the world! It could easily be a PC game but I am sure Sony or Microsoft would love to pony up some cash if a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 was used. Another reason I would like to see this remade because the special effects are dated. The Last Starfighter was one of the first movies to use computer generated visual effects. While the CGI looks great considering when it was made, to viewers in 2011 it looks like a Wing Commander game from 1997. A modern day remake could fix this by using more practical effects, or at the very least with better CGI. I would also like to see this movie remade because the villain, Xur, sucks. He is supposed to be the worst person in the universe but when you see him he's just laughable and it doesn't make since how this guy got any power in the first place, let alone was able to get so many followers. I would either seriously re-tool the character or just scrap Xur completely. If this ever does get remade I would like the main theme to come back as it kick ass. Check it out here!

The Last Starfighter
was a minor success and with the recent trend of pretty good 80s movies that did pretty well at the box office getting remade (Footloose, Fright Night, etc.) this one would fit right in. I also wouldn't mind if Hollywood went the route of TRON: Legacy with this one and have a sequel that takes place in the same universe about 30 years later. If that happened I would like to have cameos from some of the original cast (specifically Lance Guest and Mary Catherine Stewart), as long as the focus is on the new characters and story. Although if the plot of the sequel was about Lance Guest passing the torch that could work to and his would then be in a role similar to that of Centauri in the original. If you haven't seen The Last Starfighter yet I recommend it, as its a fun 80s action sci-fi movie that often gets overlooked due to unfair Star Wars comparisons.

Here is my dream team for a The Last Starfighter remake:
Director: Jon Favreau
Alex Rogan: Anton Yelchin
Maggie Gordon: Emma Stone
Centauri: one of Robert Downey Jr., David Tennant, Johnny Depp, Christopher Lloyd
Grig: Ron Perlman

Timecop (1994)
I re-watched this again with some friends a couple of months ago. Although I still like Timecop because the concepts of "time crimes" and "time enforcement" are so good, I found the movie to be more boring the second time around. Apparently Timecop is based on a Dark Horse comic but I've never read it. While I still kinda like Timecop, I'd love to see a more serious take on this plot without a guy like Van Damme (no disrespect to the guy, but he felt out of place. I am guessing they only got him because Schwarzenegger was unavailable!) as the lead.

What frustrates me the most about Timecop is that sometimes it is a smart sci-fi thriller while other times it is stupid as hell. To illustrate what I mean, I love the unique idea of having a politician use time travel to raise funds for his presidential campaign in an attempt to buy the election. I thought the idea of a guy going back to the stock market crash of 1929 and short selling all the stocks was brilliant! However, the movie ruined these interesting ideas by making some dumb decisions, such as the most random scene of full frontal nudity I have ever seen. I guess they REALLY wanted an R rating!

A couple of the time travel rules make no sense, which really hurts the movie. For example, if you travel through time you can't touch your "other" (past or future) self. While I can kinda buy that because it might create a paradox, I still don't understand why if you do touch your other self, it causes both of you to explode violently. Another rule I can't wrap my head around is that you can't go to the future because it hasn't happened yet. But if I went back to say, 1860, that would now be my present so how come I can go back to the future? Characters in the movie are allowed to go back to the future so it seems like the makers are assuming that the universe views the current date as "the present" which doesn't make a ton of sense. Not to mention the fact that if time travel is ever possible, scientists believe it would be much easier to go to the future than the past. I think the reason for this dumb rule was that the makers of the movie didn't want people wondering why they couldn't go to the future and just get more powerful weapons. A remake would fix these issues and allow the movie to be a little more serious.

Here is my dream team for a Timecop remake:
Director: Christopher Nolan or Duncan Jones
Walker: Daniel Craig or Christian Bale
Melissa: Marion Cotillard
McComb: Sam Rockwell
Matuzak: Bruce Campbell
Fielding: Zoe Saldana

The Thing
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love The Thing and would not change anything about the film. My reason for wanting a remake, or maybe the proper term for what I really want is re-imagining, is because of something I noticed about John Carpenter's classic film. But before I get to that, I need to talk about the prequel.

Yes, The Thing (1982) is actually getting a prequel which is scheduled to come out October 2011. And in case you were wondering, it is also going to be called The Thing which is just going to confuse the hell out of people. As a huge fan of the first film I'm not interested in the prequel. First of all, we know what happens. The ending must be the beginning of the 1982 movie, unless they do something really stupid. Second, nobody from the first film is involved which is usually a bad sign. Third, the prequel is supposed to follow the Norwegian team who encountered the Thing before the Americans. Keep in mind that the movie is supposed to be an American, English language film. How?! I am guessing there will have to be an American in their camp who doesn't speak Norwegian, typical American! Although I'm kinda curious about what exactly happened to the Norwegian team, that is why I like the 1982 movie. We don't know the details about what happened to that team, which does not bode well for our heroes. Plus whatever we imagine happened to that team is probably more horrific than anything that would be filmed. Who knows, maybe the prequel will surprise me and turn out to be good. Even if it sucks, at the very least some good will come of it since more people will know about The Thing.

The Thing
is a remake of The Thing from Another World (1951) which is in turn based on a short story, "Who Goes There?" written by John Campbell in 1938. Since the basic story has already been told multiple times, why not remake it again? That said, I haven't read the original story or seen the 1951 movie yet.

One of the things I found interesting about John Carpenter's The Thing is that the cast is entirely male, and the only female presence is a computer. Even most of the crew working on the movie was male. So I wonder,  what would happen if the same thing happened to an all-female team? And the movie was made by a female director, writer, and predominately female crew? How would things play out differently? I've seen plenty of sci-fi shows and movies with mostly male casts (everything from Star Trek to Inception). But not many are made up mostly of females. Sure Ripley is the main character in the Alien series, but she is always surrounded by men. I know it will never happen, especially since a prequel is in the works, but I'd love to see a remake of The Thing with an all-female cast and mostly female crew. I'd really be interested in seeing a female take on this story, since we were Carpenter's version was a story about men. In this sense it would not be a true remake, but a re-imagining. I'd like to see Hollywood do this more often instead of remakes. That way they can do something original that is influenced by an earlier work, instead of just rehashing for a blatant cash grab.

Here is my dream team for an all-female remake of The Thing:
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
For the cast I'll suggest some combination of Linda Hamilton, Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Emma Stone, Camilla Belle, Scarlett Johansson, Thora Birch, Kristen Bell, Evan Rachel Wood, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jena Malone, Olivia Wilde, Marion Cotillard, Emily Blunt, Cate Blanchett, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Carrie-Anne Moss, Famke Janssen, Heather Graham, Kelly McDonald, Nicole de Boer, Emily Mortimer, Winona Ryder, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Salma Hayek, Tilda Swinton, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Frances McDormand... you get the idea!

I would not even mind a Back to the Future re-imagining, as long as it is under the right circumstances! I would actually like to see a remake in 2015 in which a 2015 (just for the record I mean OUR 2015 and not BTTF Part II 2015) teen goes back to 1985! Imagine all the great jokes they could do! Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of Reagan, cell phones, computers, "Who the hell is Barack Obama!" etc. I'd keep the basic plot but get rid of all the details so it would be more of a re-imagining than a remake. The dance could be replaced with something else, the DeLorean could be another vehicle, skateboarding would be something else, etc. Maybe the clock tower event could even be replaced. Hell, I'd even think about doing what I discussed with The Thing, and inverting genders! That would really shake things up and force the writers to come up with something different and original.

Some movies I don't want to see re-made, but would like to see closer adaptations of the novel they are based on. We now live in a post-Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Watchmen world where movies can now be pretty close to the books. For example, I don't want to see a Blade Runner remake, prequel, or sequel, but I'd love to see a Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? movie if done right.

Tomorrow (Sunday) I'll post the Weekly Round-up.


  1. The one essential qualifier that I don't think can be stressed enough is that remakes have to be done by the right people. I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of remakes or re-imaginings if they were done correctly. But whenever a film gets picked to be remade, there is always the chance that a hack will get chosen to make it.

    Anyway...I love your idea for an all-female sci-fi flick. You know one director who is REALLY good at directing women? No joke: Woody Allen. Of course...I'm not sure how well he would do a sci-fi film...

  2. I actually haven't seen much of Woody Allen's work yet. Didn't he do Sleeper which was a sci-fi film?
    I think having a female cast and female director would be interesting as it hasn't really been in sci-fi before.