I just finished watching last year’s remake of Total Recall from Underworld director Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrel. It was actually a lot better than I had anticipated, it had a few callbacks to the original film, all the while telling a story that was not the same as the first movie.
And this got me thinking, the amount of movies out there are about as numerous as there are songs in the world. And artists cover songs rather frequently, not as frequently as remakes of things from the past get made in Hollywood these days but at the same time, it still happens. But you generally don’t hear people bitching and moaning about a cover song, when it’s essentially the same thing in a creative sense.
There are two ways that a song can be covered, you can try to recreate the original song as much as possible, and that’s just boring from a creative standpoint. Or you can take the song, or the movie, in the case of remakes, and you can put your own spin on it. Sure it’s going to hit some of the same notes, but if you put your own spin on it, for good or ill it’s still something different and in a sense ‘new’.
Not all remakes have to be bad, it’s just that for the most part, they’re lazy remakes, doing the same story, hitting the same notes as the original artist did, and even if it’s got better production values without an original spin to it it’s going to fail, creatively, and often times, monetarily as well.
A remake can sometimes be better than the original, just as a cover song can, if done the right way, with doing something new or fresh with the idea. Case in point, I really enjoyed the Friday the 13th remake from a few years back, it was the same story, but it put just enough of a spin on it to make it different to me, and the originals were pretty cheesy anyway, so you can only go up from that point.
At the same time, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake was total garbage, trying to tell somewhat of a new story with compressing the original into the later part of the film not unlike Rob Zombie’s Halloween did. We’ve seen that movie before, we liked it, a lot. We didn’t need to see it again, or a new movie tacked onto a compressed remake of the original.
It can be good, remaking, covering things, just don’t try to replicate what was done before, at least not with putting your own mark on it. This Total Recall movie, did that in my book. I’ve also heard good things about Evil Dead, putting it’s own spin on the story, and that’s interesting to me, if I’m going to see more remakes can they at least be creative? That may be too much to ask for, but that’s my hope anyway.