Remaking the Classics

Does one of cinema’s most iconic movies of all time need a revision? Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow think so. The companies plan to revisit The Wizard of Oz as filtered through the mind of famed comic book creator Todd McFarlane. Screenwriter Josh Olson will help turn McFarlane’s dark, edgy take on the Frank L. Baum classic into a big-screen extravaganza. McFarlane’s Twisted Land of Oz line of collectible action figures will serve as inspiration, but Olson wants to stay in PG territory, making a film that’s closer in tone to the latest Harry Potter instalment than a psychological thriller such as Seven.The project is in the early stages of development, so details, including the film’s launch date, have not been released.

KidScreen Magazine – If I only had a brain: Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow makeover Oz

Meh. Remakes. Le Sighish.

There seem to be 3 types of classic remakes:

BIGGER!

Bigger REALLY means more money/cash flow dumped into production & marketing. The PR stunts are big (crazy relationships/crisis-es on set). The actor names are BIG. The amount of CGI is THROUGH THE ROOF.

Remaking several blockbuster-esque movies almost REQUIRES the need to be BIGGER. Why? Because it’s got to STOMP the memory of the other remake out of your head. It has it’s very self to contend with. “Forget that old, musty, used remake, and take a look at ME– Bigger, brighter, sassier, hotter! Ignore the fact I’m now missing my original glory… we’ll make it up to you with unbelievable stunts from our computer geniuses! And you won’t even mind if they don’t make sense with the plot, we promise!”

Examples? King Kong, Godzilla, Poseidon Adventure, TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), War of the Worlds (!!), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (!!)

Hotter!

“OMG! That guy is so haught right now. Haaaaught.” Or “That chick is SOOO Hollywood’s IT girl!” Put them in a movie that EVERYONE loves, make them the relate-able “hot” character, and that totally equals INSTANT glory. Add a few hot scenes with some hot clothing… and BAM– that’s a great remake. What I was realizing from this list– most of “hot” remakes are geared towards the younger sort. They’re “family fun” ish. Hmmm.

Hair Spray, Freaky Friday, Ocean’s 11, Herbie, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, The Haunting, Cape Fear, and– i REALLY hate to say it because it was superbly done and gorgeous: Pride & Prejudice

Creepier!

Basically ALL horror remakes are in competition with each other and other remakes… who can achieve the most realistic gore? Who can out creep-i-fy the best? Who uses the best animatronics, make-up, and CGI to make realistic freak sessions?

Big names: Halloween, Friday the 13th, House on Haunted Hill, Dracula (and all it’s various versions of remakes), Frankenstein, etc.

But I find it interesting that now– people are tossing fairy tales into the creepy blockbuster category.

Marilyn Manson’s Alice in Wonderland
MacFarlane’s Wizard of Oz.

Why the Oz? I understand that there is a cult following in the creeptastic toys– and where there is a cult following, there are consumers, and where there are consumers there are profits. But weren’t we tortured ENOUGH in youth with the Return to Oz? Seriously. Those wheely guys that protected the Queen with a Thousand Heads gave me nightmares for AGES. And THAT movie was for kids!!!

Why RE: the MAKE?

I’m sorry. I love love love Johnny Depp. Cry Baby is one of my all time favorites (Where is Hatchet Face today?). But his version of Mr. Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just didn’t compare to Gene Wilder’s. Neither did the OVER THE TOP special affects, or the confusing Oompa Loompas (and they’re not-so-great songs). I mean– there were good moments, like after the faces melted off the singing robots… when Johnny just clapped and clapped, where I thought “great :)”. But all in all, He just wasn’t Wonka to me. The Blessed Genius, Roald Dahl, would probably disagree wholeheartedly– as he had issues with the 70’s version AND his wife gave sign off on this version.

My problem? Mr. Burton solved all the answers. Why was Wonka so weird/creepy? What was Wonka’s youth like? How did he get the Oompa Loompas? What did their home land look like? What’s a Snozwanger? What happens to Charlie, his family, and Mr. Wonka after the elevator?

Boo! We all grew up with questions about that movie… and Mr. Burton answered them for us. And that makes me sad.

Perhaps that’s what remakes are? Uber Fans answering their OWN questions on behalf of the world’s curiosity. Remakes are no longer about the actual ORIGIN story. No longer the first breath of content. REMAKES are interpretations by fans who needed closure on discrepancies.

A theory? Yes, but very arguable.

Why? Because on the flipside, there are almost IDENTICAL remakes, changed to fit the talent– this more or less is the “hotter” category. No real questions to be answered, and no one really cares… it’s a relatively simple idea, beef it up with hotness, and make people NOT want the taste of the burger, so much as it’s delicious aesthetic-ness. I could have cared LESS about the Herbie remake– I just wanted to see “it girl” Lindsay Lohan act, straight off her success with “Mean Girls”. Not to mention the LEBOUF.

Ready– Here’s an example of blending both the Director’s interpretation and the HAUGHTNESS factor:

With the movie “Pride & Prejudice” it was more about seeing someone ELSE’S interpretation of breaking my heart with Jane Austen inspired love stories. It’s sticking a new brand of talent haughtness into well-worn roles, finding a NEW way to break my heart with an age-old tale. Make me love these two actors as much as I love the characters from the story. Make me relive that story and cry all over again, but in a prettier, bigger, fantastic way.

To the Nitty Gritty

I HATE scary movies. I do. Especially movies that threaten the core appreciation for the tales I grew up on… BUT, I’ll still go see these remakes. Why? Well…

A. Talent: Marilyn Manson is an enigma. I’m fascinated by this “gross goth” singer/director/visionaries love for an age-old fairy tale. Who will he have playing Alice? Who are the other actors/actresses?

B. The content transcending: the toys are a cult fave… and they leave the mind reeling– what would possess someone to freakify The Wizard of Oz like that? More enigmas! What will happen to the content of the story? How will he make it creepy/sexy (like the toys) and STILL achieve a kids viewing rating?

C. Interpretations: I love folklore– the sharing of tales from one person to another. Perspective & content. How will THIS version live in comparison to other versions? How will it play out? Will it lead to OTHER remakes?

I guess… really… with remakes– only time will tell.

p.s. there is yet another version of a remake I didn’t get into this time: the “inspired” remake… movies with the heart of the remake buried within new content. Ex. Ten Things I hate About You (Taming of the Shrew), O (Othello), Clueless (Emma), Sydney White (Snow White).

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