Soapbox


It’s no secret the Hollywood machine is more concerned with the bottom line than the artistic integrity of any given project. It is a business of course and if all they did was take huge risks on high concept films, there wouldn’t be much money lying around to get a few passion projects made amongst the glut of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, and book/comic book/graphic novel/manga adaptations.

However, the growing trend to take nostalgic properties or all-too recently released foreign films and turn them into big budget/high profile projects has gone from being irritating to just plain offensive.

Doing a preliminary run-through on Wikipedia, I’ve sorted out the offending 2011 list:

The Green Hornet
The Mechanic
Red Riding Hood
Jane Eyre
Arthur
X-Men: First Class
The Smurfs
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Conan the Barbarian
Fright Night
The Debt

(still to come: Straw Dogs, Footloose, The Thing, The Three Musketeers, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Now, there are varying degrees of imagination and success within this grouping. Whereas director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s take on Jane Eyre was worth the effort, thankfully audiences didn’t reward such unnecessary reboots like Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night. I doubt loyal readers need much reminding as to what I thought of X-Men: First Class; Footloose looks like Step Up: Piss on Kevin Bacon’s Legacy; and as much as I respect David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wasn’t even given enough time for the original to accumulate dust on the DVD shelf before American audiences (who feel reading subtitles is some form of cruel and unusual punishment) will get to see a mainstreamed version of what their more in-the-know co-workers were talking about all the way back in 2010.

Still in the works waiting to poison the future are a litany of beloved semi-cult classics getting the remake treatment like Red Dawn, Akira, Total Recall, The Crow, Oldboy, Point Break, The Highlander, Evil Dead, Robocop, Bloodsport, The Toxic Avenger, The Warriors, The Wild Bunch, and Escape from New York (more on some of these projects can be found at IGN). The notion that some of these will be fashioned into some new, shiny novelty item makes me equal parts nauseous and angry. (Caution: anyone sitting near me when my morbid curiosity makes me review these films may want to wear a Gallagher-quality poncho).

And of course, there are the sequels. Again, I’ve used Wikipedia to fashion a list of the notable sequels of 2011:

Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Scream 4
Fast Five
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The Hangover Part II
Kung Fu Panda 2
Cars 2
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Final Destination 5
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

(still to come: Paranormal Activity 3, Johnny English Reborn, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Happy Feet Two, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, Piranha 3DD, The Muppets, New Year’s Eve (sure the actors who also were in Valentine’s Day may be playing different characters but what’s the damn difference?), Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)

Ugh. That’s a lot of rehashed material. Some worked well for what they were (Fast Five, Kung Fu Panda 2, Harry Potter) whereas most were either innocuous or blatant cash grabs hoping to sucker enough people who felt the need to complete the set since they’d already endured the previous films in the respective franchises.

And all of this doesn’t’ touch comic books and novels being adapted for the silver screen or 3D re-releases of films like Top Gun, The Lion King, CraptanicTitanic, Star Wars, or AvaturdAvatar – with plenty more to come if these should prove successful.

At this point, it’s almost offensive that Hollywood makes any films that aren’t remakes/reboots/re-imaginings/sequels. It’s like teasing us that there might be more original content in the future … which apparently is a lie (like the cake, or so I’m told).

Of course, the fundamental thing that drives this disturbing train of unoriginality is the box office. I understand that going to the movies is a time-honored tradition, and it should be. But unless more people realize they’re perpetuating the cycle by settling for the needless (and generally crappy) remake simply because it’s the only new release, nothing will change. The same goes for bad 3D conversions. It’s fine to want to see a movie but if you’ve been on the losing end of a poorly converted 3D film one too many times, try the 2D version next time instead. Eventually, the people financing such things will get the message (or so I dearly hope).

This leads to the underpinning of this whole rant. While it’s easy to blame Hollywood, and fun to do, they’re merely the financial gatekeepers. The market dictates their decisions. And every ticket holder should understand that they’re holding the key to changing trends for the better. It’s up to all of us to demand more original content via our pocketbooks. Critics can pan each and every unoriginal film but as long as each of them turns a profit, go ahead and circle the even worse sequel’s release date a year or two later on your calendar.

Until audiences as a whole start being more fiscally responsible about what movies they choose, you might as well just comb through your DVD library and select your favorite films … because sooner, not later, you’ll probably see its legacy tarnished by some over-hyped teen sensation being backed by a metric buttload of CGI and some emo/hipster soundtrack. And in the end, we’re all a little bit to blame for it.