Reinventing the Reel

28-Aug-07 12:53 PM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

"Twentieth Century Fox has set Keanu Reeves to star in The Day the Earth Stood Still, its re-imagining of the 1951 Robert Wise-directed sci-fi classic." Story continues at Variety.

I've never quite understood (from a critical, not business, perspective) Hollywood's proclivity for remaking classic films, as it seems to be a formula for failure. When a seminal movie defines an era or genre, not only does it set a nigh-unreachably high standard, it also defies the need for reinvention. What could a remake do that the original did not? Has a remake ever surpassed its source? Instead, directors should take quality concepts with flawed executions and bring out the potential that was previously unrealized. They can't do it any worse, can they? Granted, remaking Clonus into The Island wasn't the most brilliant display of strategery. But I, Robot could've been either a good Isaac Asimov adaptation or a good Will Smith sci-fi action thriller — two good concepts which drowned each other in execution. Pick one, remake it, and you might have a single good film.

As for the specific remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, Star Trek author Dayton Ward has already envisioned a worst-case scenario better than I could, so I'll leave the acerbic commentary to him.

Send In the Clones

09-Aug-07 11:46 AM by
Filed under Films, Television; 2 comments.

Mystery Science Theater 3000, the television series that for ten years lampooned terrible B-films, will see its twelfth DVD collection released this October, reports

Since I was a latecomer to the series, the three Comedy Central-era episodes in this set are unknown to me. More appealing is the inclusion of episode 811. When I was taking a college course on bioethics that steered one day toward cloning, I offered to lend the professor a film about cloning. I didn't warn him it was the MST3K version of Parts: The Clonus Horror. My thoughtfulness was acknowledged the next day when I was late to class and Prof. Shannon stopped his lecture to address my classmates: "I would like to thank Mr. Gagne for lending me what is very possibly the worst film I have ever seen."

Years later, when I first read the plot description for the 2005 film The Island, I was sure it was a remake of Clonus (which is a pretty bad idea for a movie; shouldn't you rip off the greats, not the awfuls?). A few months later, I wasn't the only one to think so: the producer of Clonus (interviewed for a bonus feature on the above DVD set) filed a lawsuit against The Island's producers, claiming copyright infringement. The case was settled out-of-court a year later for a seven-figure sum.

I'd ask for a RiffTrax version of The Island — but that would just seem redundant.