September 16, 2012
Here are some old-time favorites that Hollywood is trying to spoil for more cash.
Beware purists: almost every movie you loved in your formative years is being bastardized by that greedy, unimaginative succubus named Hollywood.
Perhaps you were one of the not-so-many who saw Total Recall version deux in the last month, or the 2011 Footloose remake atrocity, or you brought your rugrats to watch the aughts’ Karate Kid. Though I appreciate your contribution to the economy, your hard-earned cash money has positively reinforced the new-ish Hollywood formula: take something old and good, and make it new and bad. Or, alternatively, take something that has nostalgia value for millions and violate it. Thank you, Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel for battling the post-World War III hellscape so Millennials never have to endure the sci-fi thrillers of yore and their lack of CGI (or Governator). Speaking of dystopia, here are the movies currently being made to break your heart.
1. Robocop. “Your move, creep.” Paul Verhoeven’s catalog is getting ravaged. First Total Recall, now Robocop, and eventually a new and joyless Starship Troopers?! The reboot of the 1987 film boasts Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, and Joel Kinnaman as the resurrected tincan cop himself. Two weeks ago, Deadline broke the story that Michael Keaton had signed on to portray, ominously, “the villain” (?). Mr. Mom may not be the most menacing of actors, but we saw his dark side in Pacific Heights and I trust he can do malevolent with the best of ‘em. The script was leaked last month, and as expected, Robocop’s robot shell will be getting a fabulous upgrade. In one of the possible scripted scenarios, the Detroit cyborg cop takes on Al Queda?! Will the modernized flick still drive Robocop’s murderous foes into vats of toxic waste? Here’s the teaser released in July, which features drones and not much else (sometimes I miss the Cold War). Clearly something about the crime-fighting Frankenstein resonates with audiences, because Robocop was followed by two sequels, a TV show, TWO animated programs, and a mini-series. Due out in 2013, assuming director Jose Padilha can get it together.
2. Dirty Dancing. Word on the street is that High School Musical director Kenny Ortega (who was the choreographer for the original movie) is set to helm this sacrilegious endeavor, while Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk wields the quill. This already sounds like a corny Disney cabaret, not a film that features a bloody botched abortion and class conflict in 1963. The release has been pushed back to 2014 (reportedly due to casting issues). One such issue may be the enlistment of Glee‘s Lea Michele in the role of Baby. It’s really hard to imagine Michele could so perfectly portray (as Jennifer Grey did) square Baby’s upper-middle-class awkwardness, or how her own body seems alien to her before Patrick Swayze teaches her to dance the mambo, and later, the mattress mambo. How could the remake do justice to the memorable and wildly popular soundtrack (featuring one of my favorite all-time power ballads)? I’m still getting over crappy Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, so hopefully the corruption of this classic is pushed back a few more years, or beyond my lifetime, or ideally, forever.
3. Point Break. “They only live to get radical.” Like a radical redo of the ultimate extreme sports cinema about bros, surfing bank robbers, and one man’s insatiable hunger for meatball sandwiches? The movie gods have unleashed a 50-Year Storm on my heart. The project was announced a year ago from Alcon Entertainment with little detail, except Kurt Wimmer (who also wrote the Total Recall revision) is penning the new script. The new Point Break will yet again follow an FBI agent as he infiltrates a criminal wolfpack by bro-ing down with them in whatever “extreme sport” is relevant right now. Producer Michael DeLuca hilariously explains that “Point Break wasn’t just a film, it was a Zen meditation on testosterone-fueled action and manhood in the late 20th century and we hope to create the same for the young 21st!” As the criminal racket has yet to be defined in the new action bromance, it doesn’t seem likely anyone will don the masks of former presidents. It’s silly to even call the new “zen meditation” Point Break if there’s no actual surfing involved. Maybe Alcon and DeLuca need to put down the Mountain Dew and think this over. At least I feel assured that they won’t attempt to recapture nazi surf punk Anthony Kiedis’ role (and post-apocalyptic hairstyle) as “Tone.”
4. Ghostbusters. Are you kidding me?! Classic ruiner Dan Akroyd (Dr. Raymond Stantz) has enlisted the help of Etan Cohen (Men in Black III, Tropic Thunder) to write the threequel to the 1984 masterpiece. Ivan Reitman is directing this monstrosity, which allegedly will have a new generation of parapsychologist ghost hunters getting slimed. According to Sigourney Weaver, her character’s progeny Oscar Barrett (the troublesome baby in Ghostbusters II) would be part of said next generation while Bill Murray’s character, Dr. Peter Venkman, would return to the franchise as a ghost. However, this summer Bill Murray turned down the role due to the script not being as “darn funny” as the first one (atta boy). I, too, would be pretty nervous about a third installment after the disappointment that was the sequel. The apex of the Ghostbusters experience had to be making out with Sigourney Weaver while covered in marshmallow, so why backslide? The mysterious new class of stream-crossers may even include a GIRL! Whoa! How progressive to incorporate a girl into your workforce in 2012 (probably just to create some romantic/sexual tension with one of the male leads). Lastly, although Ghostbuster II theme song, “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown is great, it can’t compete with the whimsical, catchy genius of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” (“Bustin’ makes me feel good”). I cringe to imagine what the third movie would have in store for us, musically (or otherwise). Probably something by Flo-Rida. Let’s just move on.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. First, let me assuage your rage by informing you that the release date for this blasphemous celluloid turd has been pushed back to May 16, 2014 (allegedly to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first comic). Explosions enthusiast and flagophile Michael Bay is producing the new live-action film, for which he’s instituted some changes. Instead of earthly teenage turtles anthropomorphized by primordial ooze, the heroes in a half-shell will be adult aliens. Yeeeaaah. Expect no exclamations of “cowabunga” or myriad pizza references. After these major story edits, the new film is known simply as Ninja Turtles. “These turtles are from an alien race,” Bay said at the Nickelodeon Upfronts in March. “And they’re going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.” Jonathan Liebsman is onboard to direct this shitshow and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings franchise, Rudy, Goonies) has been cast as Raphael. While one creator, Kevin Eastman, who is lending a hand with the script, is quoted as saying “They’ve really knocked it out of the park,” co-creator Peter Laird has described it as “so NOT a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie” and fundamentally flawed. Incidentally, Nickelodeon has added a new animated TNMT show to its fall lineup, voiced by Jason Biggs and Mae Whitman, in which April O’Neil is a 16-year-old. This alteration seems forgivable, however, compared to the grand liberties Bay has taken with the Ninja Turtles’ story.
6. A Christmas Story. And direct-to-video comes another sequel to Jean Shepard’s perennial Christmas classic. The trailer, titled A Christmas Story 2: OFFICIAL Sequel, was released Thursday and it is painful. Is teenage Ralphie wearing a frosted rug? In this turn, Ralphie no longer pines for a Red Ryder BB gun, but his own own car and Daniel Stern plays the Old Man (Noooooooooo! Why Stern, why?!) Coming to your local crappy DVD purveyor on October 30, not even the holiday season. Apparently, there’s going to be a Broadway musical of A Christmas Story (replete with sexy leg lamp dancers) this winter, so if you absolutely must endure a sullied rendering, this is probably the better bet. Incredulous crybabies across the interwebs will do well to recall that this is not the first sequel to A Christmas Story; 1994’s It Runs in the Family (known on DVD as My Summer Story) follows Ralphie (Kieran Culkin) as he attempts to redistribute power in the social hierarchy with dueling…tops (that’s right, tops) and something about the Old Man (Charles Grodin) finding the mecca of all fishing spots. I’m not sure what makes one sequel more “official” than the other. Jean Shepard narrates It Runs in the Family and wrote the screenplay (as opposed to the 2012 sequel), so that seems pretty “official” to me.
7. Judge Dredd: Okay. Judge Dredd isn’t exactly a beloved piece of American cinema history, but fans of the comic have some strong feelings about the adaptation, plus it’s coming to theaters on the 21st, so let’s include it in the listicle. Yay! Seventeen years after the Sylvestor Stallone catastrophe comes the 3D reboot, Dredd. Starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) in the titular role as the laconic Street Judge fighting crime and dishing out sentences in drug-addled, post-apocalyptic Mega City One. Dredd has no side-shtick character (ahem, Rob Schneider) in this version, praise be. Olivia Thirlby (Bored to Death) plays his psychic protege who helps him take down his latest nemesis, former prostitute and current drug queen-pin, Ma-Ma. Dredd appears to be a darker, druggier noir with the advantage (for better or worse) of modern CGI.
8. Scarface. Universal announced that a third version of Scarface is in the works (IMDB gives a 2014 release, whatever that’s worth). Martin Bregman will return as the producer and Training Day writer David Ayer is penning the script (he’s also taking on the Fox redux of Commando, but nothing more has been reported). Like the first two films, the third flick will tell a “tale set in today’s world, offering a dark look at the American Dream.” Yes, the American dream that goes horribly, violently awry. Apparently Rihanna is gunning for the Elvira Hancock-esque role. What accents, bloodshed and incesty plotlines can we expect in the latest panel of the gangster movie triptych? Who could fill Al Pacino’s iconic shoes, a legendary character both charismatic and terrifying? We shall have the answers to these burning questions when the project moves beyond its nascent phase.
9. Short Circuit. Johnny 5 is indeed alive. I’m legitimately puzzled by this. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the original, and my brother and I would even quote the sequel to death as kids (in which Johnny 5 transforms into the world’s first punk rock robot! Yes!!!), but it just seems like an unsuspecting choice for a remake. But director Tim Hill told 24 Frames, “The thing that makes it so relevant is that we live in this age of robots, particularly when it comes to war. We have drones that do our fighting for us, do all these jobs men and women don’t want to do.” Apparently, Ally Sheedy’s role is being remodeled for a teen to attract more families this time around. “If you look at kids and how they adopt machinery, it’s just getting tight and tighter,” Hill said. “We’re just becoming more connected to our machines. That’s why I think this can say more about our relationship with technology than the original ever did.” Boy are Elle Fanning’s classmates going to look silly with their iPhones when she shows up to school with her own wise-cracking DRONE. I remember the original being less about techno-human relationships, and more about Johnny 5 developing self-awareness, which was aided by friendship. And lightning. Well, except for that one creepy scene. Set to be released next year.
10. Carrie. Boys Don’t Cry shepherd Kimberly Peirce is directing (in Canada at this very moment) Chloe Grace Moretz as poor Carrie White, and Julianne Moore as her mommy dearest, in this “modernized, more character-focused” adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Check out these chilling photos of Moore as the fundamentalist matron, and Moretz covered in pig’s blood. I’m experiencing some sort of cognitive dissonance with this reboot; I’m not saying I condone a contemporary rendition of the masterly 1976 original, but I’m pretty curious to see Moore’s portrayal of abusive zealot Margaret White, and also enjoy Moretz’s punitive telekinesis humble her bullies. Literal and idiomatic fire and brimstone (well, maybe not actual brimstone), hurray! Plus, Judy Greer also stars as Carrie’s concerned teacher! ALSO, is there anything better than when a movie’s climactic scene, when the shit hits the proverbial fan, occurs at the big dance? Coming to theaters March 13, 2013.