Remake

Cliffhanger reboot

Yesterday, Deadline broke the news that Renny Harlin‘s 1993 minor classic, Cliffhanger, would be getting the reboot/remake/reimagining treatment, and while it’s not surprising that the Sylvester Stallone-starring mayhem on the mountain thriller is getting a new take, it is disheartening. Remakes in general tend to feel tired, but the apparent process that went into rebooting the film sounds straight up depressing — the outlet reports that newbie screenwriter Joe Gazzam, who will pen this new feature, snagged the gig when he “was among a group of screenwriters who pitched their take on a movie that still holds up as a guilty pleasure.” You read that correctly. At some point during the last few months, a group of Hollywood screenwriters (most likely up-and-comers like Gazzam, who at least has some original scripts in the tank) was tasked with thinking up ways to reboot Cliffhanger, and Gazzam turned in the best one. (Of course, we still have no idea what this new film will entail, but that will come.) Even without knowing what Gazzam’s new film will involve, we already know the one thing it needs. What’s the one thing that Cliffhanger needs? You know it already. You can feel it in your bones. Perhaps a visual aid will help? Let’s explore.

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The Grudge

Here’s the thing with clichés – they become clichés because they’re at least somewhat rooted in the truth. Hollywood running out of ideas has been a running joke for quite some time now – a cliché, really – but that doesn’t mean it’s not actually true. How do we know it’s true? Because we’re rebooting remakes now. Rebooting remakes. Films that have already been through the remake wringer once, come out relatively clean on the other side, and are now being shoved through again. How much blood can we squeeze from one stone? Well, at least when it comes to this latest rebooted remake, there might be actual blood, because it’s a horror film that’s getting a fresh cut – The Grudge, specifically, as spawned by the Japanese hit Ju-On. Deadline Hollywood reports that Ghost House Pictures and Good Universe are relaunching the franchise, which first hit American screens as the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring The Grudge back in 2004, as it sprung from the 2002 Japanese outing Ju-On. Takashi Shimizu directed both the Japanese original and the American take on the material were directed by (the helmer also directed all three of the Japanese sequels and the first American one), though he does not appear to be involved in this new outing.

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Remake Star Wars

If you already have low expectations for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, you might not be interested in seeing the first film by Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola. It won’t exactly do much for your interest in the new action-infused fairy tale. But if you’re like me and are fascinated by the calling card short films of Hollywood moviemakers, you’ll want to check out Remake. Anyway, it’s under seven minutes, so you’re not wasting too much time. The short was produced in Australia in 2006, and Wirkola shares helming duties on the film with Kit McDee (who has his own action feature with the word “hunters” in it out this year called The Hunters Club Movie). They both also co-star as hotel desk clerks (or owners?) who offer guests homemade Betamax videos featuring cheap remakes of popular movies (Titanic, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Scream and Deep Throat are among the titles we see). Basically these movies have been “sweded,” although Remake was made before Be Kind Rewind, which coined that term and popularized the concept.

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When I first heard there was going to be a Red Dawn remake, I didn’t see the need. Even in a post-9/11 world, in which we have experienced a foreign attack on U.S. soil — unlike when the 1984 original could tout its related tagline of “In our time, no foreign army has ever occupied American soil. Until now.” — we don’t have the sort of Cold War worries of being taken over by an enemy superpower, regardless of the plausibility. We’ve entered a different kind of era of fear, of terrorists striking rather than foreign armies invading. In the last 20 years it has made more sense to see alien invasion films like Independence Day and War of the Worlds, because extraterrestrials seemed the more likely foreigners to conquer America if any. And to an extent — especially given a certain ID4-ish plan involving defeating the invaders via their own communications system — the producers could have just changed the enemy in the Red Dawn remake from Chinese to aliens rather than to North Koreans. For one thing, it would remove any claims of racism or direct xenophobia on the part of the film. For another thing, we once saw aliens often employed as stand-ins for our “red” enemies and could just reference that as logic for how it could still be “Red Dawn” but now be science fiction (actually, the original Red Dawn is a kind of sci-fi). More than anything, though, it just doesn’t matter who the […]

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Pusher Review

Editor’s note: The Pusher remake hits limited screens today, so please imbibe this quality review from our Fantastic Fest coverage, first posted on September 30, 2012. Despite what many movie fans might tell you, remakes are not inherently evil. Some movies had good ideas but couldn’t execute them properly, some could use a facelift, and some were great the first time but simply fell victim to the studio’s desire to cash in. Remakes have a bit of a tough road. First off, the they need to do what any movie needs to do: put together a good story and good performances with good cinematography. These are simply the basic building blocks of good films. But a remake has baggage, it has people’s expectations hoisted upon it. And so a remake, unlike a film based on an original idea, must also justify its own existence. Sadly, Luis Prieto‘s Pusher only manages to accomplish one of the two.

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Total Recall

While not everyone in attendance at San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest fan of Len Wiseman, tweeting out jokes spotlighting his missing film knowledge and pedigree, it could just be jealousy that he is married to star Kate Beckinsale. That’s enough to make any man, and most women, insane with jealousy. Feelings for the director, and remakes, aside, I didn’t know what to expect from a Total Recall total remake. Would there be boobs? How many? Would there be tiny mutants? How many? Would there be bullets, explosions, and car chases? How many? We have some answers for you now.

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What is Movie News After Dark DRINKING? It’s the end result of a long work day, a half dozen mini doughnuts, a glass of cheap Canadian whisky, Robert Fure, and a keyboard. Suck on it, suckers! This week’s movie news after Drinking is brought to you by Revel Stoke spiced whisky (We should not get paid for this because I’m not drinking this again. Or no we should still get paid, but I’m not drinking this again). But basically the deal is I get kind of drunk and then try to type up a whole bunch of movie news before my arms stop working. If you’re wondering why I’m typing all this nonsense, it’s because we need a certain amount of buffer before we move into the news to put a proper text break in here. But totally keep reading because Will Smith NO JOKE SLAPS A RUSSIAN IN THE FACE IN THE FIRST STORY. (OH LOOK AT ME I’M FRILMCRIT HULK BECAUSE THIS IS ALL CAPITALS)

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Vince Vaughn is reportedly in negotiations for a role almost too perfectly suited for the comedian’s talents. Variety reports (via ComingSoon) that the actor is looking to sign on for DreamWorks’ remake of Starbuck. The 2011 Canadian hit centers on a schlubby, middle-aged loser named David whose life is up-ended by the news that he’s fathered over 500 children. By sperm donation, of course! Thanks to a twist of fate (and, let’s be honest here, some sub-par work by the sperm bank’s staff), the bank doled out only David’s sperm, meaning that the manchild now has 533 children. That news is bad enough, but it’s compounded by the fact that 143 of those kids have filed a class action lawsuit to have the name of their father revealed to them. Made aware of this news, David wrestles with whether or not he should fess up, a decision made still more complicated by his choice to begin acting as a guardian angel to his unknowing kids. The film was released in Canada in July, with a smaller release in other international territories following that. It also won audience awards at some American festivals, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma. The original film was directed by Ken Scott from a script he wrote with Ken Petit. Scott will write and direct this new remake, which should start filming later this year. The original film’s IMDb page goes much more in-depth on Starbuck‘s plot summary, so check it out after the break […]

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If, for whatever reason, Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls didn’t strike you as a shiny enough spectacle, here comes Salim Akil‘s remake of Sparkle, which tells essentially the same story as Dreamgirls, though the film’s first trailer resembles a glossy music video devoid of any of the top-notch performance or actual drama that made Dreamgirls even remotely watchable. Alas, the film does feature a number of interesting actors (including Jordin Sparks in her first feature, Mike Epps, and Derek Luke), and what will likely end up the film’s big selling point – the final performance of Whitney Houston. The original Sparkle hit screens in 1976, thanks to director Sam O’Steen and writers Joel Schumacher (really) and Howard Rosenman, with music composed by Curtis Mayfield and no less than Aretha Franklin singing the songs for the film’s soundtrack. The film was loosely based on the story of The Supremes, featuring singing sisters who hit it big in the 1950s, until they fell prey to all the VH1 Behind the Music stuff like drugs and internal strife. Oh, yeah, and Sparkle is one of the most direct inspirations of the Broadway musical that went on to become Dreamgirls. But this is all pretty evident in the film’s first trailer.

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This Sunday! There will be a thing on the Internet! That we all might be interested to see! But here is some of it now! The teaser trailer has somewhat recently become quite the en vogue way to heighten anticipation for films – throw up a few splashy title cards, dice in some scenes that could (or could not) be important to the film, bate viewers for the full trailer. It’s a fair way to market stuff, and when it works, it really works – like in this teaser trailer for Len Wiseman‘s take on Total Recall. Wiseman’s film is “inspired anew” by Philip K. Dick’s short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” and it stars Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston. While it’s hard to get too much of a feel for an entire production from a thirty-second spot that’s peppered with reminders to watch for the full trailer this Sunday, Wiseman’s film at least looks to be a bit more serious and hardcore than Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 film. And, of course, it appears to come complete with Farrell jumping on stuff, like, all the time. The teaser trailer won’t make you wish you had three hands, but it will certainly make you want to see more.

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Late last week, Nathan graced us with a story about MGM’s supposed short list for the lead role in Kimberly Peirce‘s remake of Carrie, a list that included Chloe Moretz and Haley Bennett at the top, with other names like Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, and Emily Browning rounding out the apparent second-string picks. It was a relatively odd list – a mix of ages, looks, and star power, with only one name really sticking out as the actress most likely to get as gritty and desperate as Sissy Spacek so memorably did in Brian DePalma’s original film (based on the 1974 Stephen King novel). That actress is of course 15-year-old Moretz, who has already turned in her share of gritty and desperate work before even hitting legal driving age (see: Kick-Ass, Let Me In, and Hick). Thankfully, it looks like MGM and Peirce agree with my assertion, as Deadline Fulton reports that the studio and the director have now made a formal offer to Moretz. The outlet adds that, despite last week’s short list, “Peirce and the studio had an eye on Moretz. The studio denied it at the time, but what actually happened is, Moretz didn’t meet with Peirce until last weekend. She got the job immediately.”

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We’re going to get this out of the way and, like, totally quickly – I love Valley Girl. Unironically. I think it’s hilarious and weirdly romantic and that Nicolas Cage has never, ever looked better (and sexier). And also? The music is phenomenal (Cage’s Randy is really into the underground punk scene). And all that embarrassing praise and all those bizarre personal revelations aside, what made Valley Girl work is that it chronicled a specific lifestyle during the actual period in which it existed – that is, the “for sure, totally, tripendicular” slice of life California life during the 80s. A remake? Well, I worry that a remake is just going to poke fun at the time period, not look back on it with any sort of endearing nostalgia. MGM has been working to get a remake going for awhile now, and apparently Paramount is getting in on the action. According to Deadline Agoura Hills, the studios have now reportedly even picked a director for the film, which will be a musical version that will see its leads singing “New Wave tunes from bands like The Go Go’s and The Cars.” Clay Weiner will start his feature directing career with the film, apparently triumphing over “a number of well-established helmers who wanted the job.”

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One of 2010’s most wicked independent horror films is getting an American remake, thanks to a pair of up-and-coming filmmakers. Director Jim Mickle and his screenwriter partner Nick Damici are now set to remake Jorge Michel Grau‘s We Are What We Are, the best little Mexican horror flick about a family of cannibals you’ve likely never seen. As our pal Peter S. Hall points out, with Mickle signed on for the remake, that means that a film from 2010’s Fantastic Fest is getting remade by a director who also had a film at that same FF. Synergy! Mickle and Damici’s Stake Land played at FF, as well as at Toronto as part of their Midnight Madness sidebar (where it won the People’s Choice Award). The film followed a set of survivors attempting to scrape by in a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by vampires. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film, Mickle and Damici infused their characters with believable and likable qualities, and then set them against an appropriately gritty and terrifying background. And Grau seems to agree, saying “I feel fortunate to have someone with the vision and talent Jim has to re-interpret my work. It is extraordinary to have a team of filmmakers so respectful of the spirit of a film and take such good care of its essence. I’m so proud to know We Are What We Are will be reworked under that kind of intelligent frame of mind. Very happy that Jim will construct a new […]

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Boiling Point

I’ve got a bit of an obsessive compulsive issue when it comes to DVDs and Blu-rays. I’m one of those suckers who will get caught every so often in a double-dip if I’m not paying attention. If I am being observant, I’m the guy who waits four extra months to get a disc with some special features attached. I really dug Transformers 3 and wanted to watch it again, but I’ll be damned if I was going to buy a disc with no extras on it! The issue that has my panties all aflame this week is all about special features and the lack thereof. Oh, most discs today come with some special features on them, but the “featurette” has become the bane of my existence. It used to just be what they called small extras on the disc, but now they’ve really emphasized the -ette, meaning mini, small, or useless.

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Boiling Point

The Devil Inside is the talk of the town for two reasons: number one, it made around $35 million in its opening weekend, which is big no matter what qualifier you tack on, but when that qualifier is a reported $1 million acquisition cost, it’s gigantic. Number two (heheh), it sucks. It sucks bad. That’s nothing new, really, as everything about The Devil Inside screams shitty movie. First of all, it’s from the team that brought you Stay Alive. Second, it’s found footage. Third, it’s an exorcism movie. I’m surprised that people went to see it, because you list those three qualities and I am about as far from interested as possible. But rather than just throw another voice on the “what the fuck” bonfire, I wanted to take a few minutes and examine what we can learn from this situation.

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Back in August, Justin Lin vacated the director’s chair for the latest in Hollywood’s seemingly endless string of remakes – jumping off Highlander to spend more time making Vin Diesel and Paul Walker jump off moving trains on to moving cars (or similar) with his next entry into his wildly successful spin on The Fast and the Furious franchise. Summit Entertainment has now announced that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo will take on directorial duties for their Highlander reboot/magination/whatever, so let’s all pause to yell “there can only be one!” and move on with the news. Fresnadillo will direct from Melissa Rosenberg’s script, with the film poised to start filming in the spring of 2012. Summit’s official press release gives a quick plotline for the new film – “In HIGHLANDER, after centuries of dueling to survive against others like him, Connor MacLeod, an immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his kind, a murderously brutal barbarian, who lusts for the Prize” – so, yes, rest easy, this is definitely a Highlander film.

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How news of remakes continues to shock me, I’ll never know. There’s been buzz about a Point Break remake for a while now, but Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment have finally decided to just get totally radical and announce their planned remake of the 1991 Kathryn Bigelow  film that remains a cinematic classic for surfers, stoners, Angelenos, adrenaline junkies, idiots, and Keanu Reeves fan everywhere (hey, back up, I count myself as one of those idiots). Alcon snatched up the rights for the film on the eve of its twentieth anniversary, with co-founders and co-CEO’s Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove set to produce the new project, along with Michael DeLuca, John Baldecchi, Chris Taylor, and Kurt Wimmer. As previously rumored, Wimmer penned the screenplay for the remake (hat tip to our pals over Twitch for reporting on this way back in June). The film is without a director as of yet, but it’s being “fast tracked” with a helmer search launching soon. The new Point Break will, in both completely inexplicable and totally expected news, not necessarily take place in the world of surfing, but “in the world of international extreme sports.” What, like street luge? Parkour? Say it’s parkour, please say it’s parkour. But the remake will still focus on “an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a criminal ring.” That’s all we’ve got for now. Wait, isn’t that The Fast and the Furious? Just tell me said FBI agent has a Johnny Utah-esque name, and all will be forgiven. Frankie New […]

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The Debt is a painstakingly old-fashioned drama that’s far more interested in the nuances of human behavior than exploitation or pyrotechnics. At the same time, in telling the parallel stories of Mossad agents hunting a Nazi doctor in East Berlin circa 1966 and those same agents dealing with the consequences of that mission 30 years later, John Madden’s film evokes the existential themes that lie at the heart of Israel’s creation. To straddle both those worlds within the constraints of a tightly-wound thriller is a considerable accomplishment. And this eloquent remake of a 2007 Israeli picture with the same name harkens back to the old-fashioned aesthetics of genre movies that mean something, films that are unafraid of drawing out big ideas between familiar lines. The film stars Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds as the older version of agents Rachel Singer, Stephan Gold and David Peretz, who discover that the book has not been written on their mission of 30+ years ago with the finality they thought it had. Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington play their younger selves, tracking the sadistic Doktor Bernhardt (Jesper Christensen) astride the Iron Curtain.

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A few weeks back, the inevitable happened – Lionsgate announced that they were tangoing and jitterbugging and some other type of dancing that no one does anymore right back into the Dirty Dancing fold with a remake of the smash eighties hit. But before fans could throw themselves into corners or off charming little Catskills bridges, Lionsgate also announced that Kenny Ortega, the original choreographer, had signed on as director. When the remake was first chattered about, way back in 2009, Lionsgate announced that Julia Dahl (Uptown Girls) would be scripting it, but with no attachment of Dahl’s name to the Ortega announcement, a new writer seemed inevitable. And now we know who she is – Maria Maggenti. Who? Maggenti’s resume is, in one word, bizarre. But bizarre in the way that it’s hard to get a feel for what sort films Maggenti is best suited to pen – there’s just no broad, sweeping generalizations we can draw from it (what a pickle). Maggenti most recently wrote the screenplay for Monte Carlo – but with no less than three other people contributing to a film adaption of a novel written by another person altogether. That’s five cooks in the kitchen. Even if Maggenti had a more established career and trademark style, it would still be hard to pin down her exact contributions to the film and how that will translate to this new Dirty Dancing.

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As Hollywood continues to suck the blood out of 1980’s and 1990’s cinema to appease their hungry gods and their demands for still more crimson liquid, news on yet another remake has come to life. And, whereas this morning’s news about a Romancing the Stone remake had me chomping and gnashing and damning people I’ve never met, I can’t say that I entirely hate this newest idea, particularly because it comes pre-packaged not with a pie in the sky list of possible lead actors, but with a genre-appropriate screenwriter. Talented, inventive writing! How about that! Sony has just signed Source Code scribe Ben Ripley to a development deal to write “a contemporary reimagining” of Joel Schumacher‘s Flatliners. The original film hit theaters in 1990 with one of the most awesomely nineties-era casts to ever gather in service for a sci-fi flick about kinda dead people. It starred Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts and William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon as medical students who begin to experiment with near-death experiences to see just what’s on the other side. Of course, there are consequences to having your heart stopped repeatedly to get a glimpse at a realm that the living aren’t meant to see. Who knew? Not much else is known about the direction Ripley will take the film, but the writer has already proven himself adept at traversing both experiences and locations by way of the human mind and its perceptions, so Flatliners seems like a perfect fit. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe not all […]

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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