Friday, March 26, 2010

Make Over

This just ran on the fantastic Hero Complex blog. Hero Complex is blog from the LA TIMES that covers all things geek and it's a great, great read.

Anyway- the piece is about the writer of the original Karate Kid movie saying he doesn't get why anyone would remake the movie and thinks many fans of the original are pissed about the remake/not interested in the remake.

You know, I just don't get this mentality. I'm all for remakes. They make total sense to me.

And look: I LOVE original movies. And I can see how there is some frustration on the part of movie lovers if they think the remakes keep the studios from making the new stuff. But that's not a great argument cause the vast majority of what the movie studios pump out IS new content.

And I loved the first Karate Kid, but hell, this new one looks pretty good too. How much of that is cause it uses the kick ass song from Fort Minor? Hard to say. BUT it still looks like a it could be a good flick. I know I'll see it. I know my kids watched the trailer and my 6 year old wants to see it too.

And why NOT remake stuff for a new generation? Times change, tastes change, but good storytelling never dies. So why not redress it so it can appeal to the new generation? Sure they COULD watch the classic, but how effective will that be for MOST younger people? It's kind of hard to get fully caught up in the drama of Daniel VS. the Cobra Kai when you are giggling at Elizabeth Shu's big ass hair, snickering at the lame soundtrack ('You're the best around! Nothin's ever gonna keep you down!'), or wondering what kind of a mother would let her young son spend so much time with a very old, very single man who works in the maintenance shed (in 1984, for some reason, this just didn't seem like an issue).

I think most movies have a shelf life of 10-30 years and then you tend to respond to an old flick in one of the following ways:

a- you're nostalgic for it cause you grew up with it
b- you appreciate aspects of it (story, acting, theme) BUT you can't really get fully immersed because the techniques and cultural touchstones present in the movie are no longer relevant.
c- watching the older movie allows you to romanticize a time you never grew up in (i.e. watching an old horror movie or a classic from the 30's and 40's).

I mean, as much as I love IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and CASABLANCA (and even E.T. and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), I watch those flicks with my 'this is an old movie' filter turned on. Watching them any other way and it's clear- distractingly so- how creaky and boring and dated sections of those old movies are. And not because they are bad movies. Far from it. They are some of the best movies EVER made. But those old movies are hard to watch in sections because times AND technique have changed SO MUCH that our brains-constantly exposed different,fresher types of visual storytelling- just don't want to go backwards.

And I am not knocking old flicks. To be crystal clear: I LOVE old movies. But I also support remakes of old movies (and old video games too where applicable). On a remake you will probably never capture the same lighting in the bottle as the original, but most of the younger generation isn't going to watch the original anyway. So redressing a classic (if done well) allows a whole new generation to fall in love with the essence that lies at the core of those old flicks (again, assuming the remake is made with an understanding of what made the original so special).

And to answer a question that I imagine someone may be thinking: yes, I'd LOVE to see a remake of a game I've worked on in a few years. Take God of War I. Do it with better graphics, add new puzzles and characters, twist the story a bit, fix the stuff that sucked, redesign Kratos (bad ass in 2035 is gonna look a lot different than bad ass in 2005). I got NO issues with this and think it would be very cool. Ideally they would retain the core of the game (violent action with a strong central character and a blend of accessible combat mixed with some puzzles and platforming all set against the backdrop of the ancient Greek myths). As long as they didn't walk away from that core, I'd have 100% no issues.

Same reason I'd love to see a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK remake with a new, younger Indy and a more modern director (much as I LOVE Spielberg).

But I know full well there are MANY movie lovers out there who would disagree with me. Ah well, can't please everyone :)

Ok, later- great weekend ya'll!


ps. I don't see a lot of theater so I don't know how this argument applies to remakes of plays and musicals. I do know musicals went thru a phase of getting grander and more expensive (Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, etc). And I do know that many musicals DO get reimagined as the years go by (Sweeny Todd, Annie,etc). And I do know that some old plays (Ibsen, Shakespeare) for ME feel like taking medicine (I appreciate what it does for me, but I still don't like it...not one bit). So in their own, medium specific way, my gut tells me my thoughts on remakes for movies and games also applies to theater/musicals.

Books as well...but books do seem to have a longer shelf life. Probably because:
a- A book occurs in your brain and so you bring your own sensibility ((which naturally you like/enjoy)) to a book. You add your own music, sounds, smells, pace, hair styles, clothing choices. Not always (sometimes an author will do this for you) but your brain- on a subconscious level- fills in a lot of blanks, plugging the wholes with your own made up stuff that resonates with you. Because of this, there is more protection against the culture and trends of the times whittling away at a book's power.
b- In a book, the out of date stuff is not always pushed in your face. For example: if The Karate Kid were a novel, I may read a description about Elizabeth Shu's character's big, 80's style hair but I probably would not have that on my brain every time her character appears in the story (cause the prose would probably not mention it every time she does something). Not the case with a movie. In a movie, you can't escape it.
c- Because books tend to do a much better job than movies at expressing the internal desires and wants and needs of the characters, that aspect tends to wind up being the essence of a book. Thus the surrounding trappings (which can clash badly with modern times if the book is old) are not as relevant because so many internal wants and desires- brought to the fore in a book- resonate strongly across millennia (love, longing, hope, ambition,etc).

 Even still, I think there is a shelf life for books as well mainly because of the language and shift in narrative techniques. Because of that, for me, trying to read a book written before 1850 or so and it feels like something I'm doing to better myself, not something I actually enjoy.