It's summertime and that pretty much means the line-up of movies is brim full of remakes and sequels so let's talk about that, shall we? Recently as I wrote about sequels and the sequels of sequels, Damian at Windmills Of My Mind brought up an interesting point which I would like to expand on. Damian said that sometimes audience members can be "like spoiled children or gluttons" when it comes to stories. They are always wanting more. To be fed and when they're full they move on to something else.
This thought leads me to what I think is the root of all evil in film making. And that is the sequel and the remake. Damian went on further in his comments writing that the concept of a "sequel" is strange in itself because stories are supposed to be self-containing. I couldn't agree more. When a movie gets big and they decide to make a sequel, the purpose of creating a sequel is usually not for the purpose of advancing the story, it's in re-creating what was liked before. For the most part, when someone makes a sequel or re-makes a movie, it's purely for monetary reasons. That's a pretty big blanket statement I realize, but I would say for 80% of them, it's a fair assessment. And sometimes disguising that motive is hard. Spiderman 3 is a perfect example. I'm sure it became evident to Raimi that there wasn't a new story to tell. So what does he do? He fills the movie with bad guys. With remakes, the writer attempts to broaden the story to justify the remake somewhat. And that's usually at the cost of a good movie.
Take for instance the upcoming Halloween remake by Rob Zombie. He is re-imagining it so that we can better understand Michael Meyers childhood to see why he went so wrong. Michael Meyers could have been a bullied, cross-dressing perv with an abusive drunk father and a whore mom and I wouldn't give two shits about it. I just care that he scared the bejesus out of me. In the remake of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton added more back story of Wonka's father to help explain the reason why Willy is the way he is. There is talk of remaking The Birds (God help us) and in doing so they are going to explain why the birds go crazy. And in maybe the worst offense, Thomas Harris, acting not like the great writer that penned Red Dragon and Silence Of The Lambs, takes a trip to hackville by writing Hannibal Rising, helping us better understand why Hannibal came to be.
I loved that Lucas started the Star Wars series in the middle and now hate Lucas because he's gone back and given us the beginning.
As always there are exceptions to this. I think about two of Scorsese's films: The Color Of Money and Cape Fear as good examples. In The Color Of Money, we continue the story of The Hustler with Fast Eddy now becoming the money behind the hustle. It's a fantastic story that doesn't seem forced and makes sense. Notice that no one chose to show Fast Eddy growing up and showing why he decided to become a hustler in the first place. In Cape Fear, Wesley Strick gives us more of a dirty underbelly to the family. He updates the story a bit with natural friction in the family unit to show their vulnerability to a stranger.
And I'm not sure the blame lays with the audience so much as it does with the studios. It's funny, a studio has a hit and instead of trying to create a completely new movie that's just as good, they want to ride the coattails of the hit with the same story in different clothing. I don't think there are a bunch of people sitting around saying "make a sequel to that" once they've seen a good movie. They're just appreciating a good movie.
So I say shut up Hollywood. Quit telling me so much. Stop remaking and sequalizing and go out and make more original movies because the path you're currently taking is so well traveled that the carpet is worn through and I can see the ugly floor boards beneath.