Sunday, 21 November 2010

Recent Remakes Watched

This is me trying to get back into the discipline of blogging so this will be a slightly useless one to get started with.

Remakes. I've seen three remakes recently, one from 2003, one from a few years ago, one from this year.  I'm not actually too bothered about remakes. You used to fads, such as TV show adapations, (which have fallen away recently), Die Hard rip-offs, rogue cop movies, comic book movies (still being popular for now). There's always a fad.

So there was The Italian Job, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Clash Of the Titans. The more recent the film, more more obvious a decline in quality.

The Italian Job was the most fun. The original is a bit better but its a fun heist movie, has the edge on the Oceon's 11 remake of a few years before by having surprises and events going wrong, as well as better jokes. Its a film that there's nothing much to write about as its depth is in presentation, in the fun of the play. Buts its a good example of a remake in that they took a few solid ideas from the first and made a film that's like the first but is not dependent on the first.

The other two remakes fail on that. The Day The Earth Stood Still remake is by far the better, even though its first ten minutes are genuinely awful. Its not until Keanu Reeves shows up as the alien that it gets watchable. It pretty much works as an alien among us film, the alien being a bit of a dick at times, which keeps it interesting. Reevies is by far the most interesting thing about it. But it truly needed a lot of script work, and a better director to succeed. (Shots seem to be very samey, which kills tension or interest.) But its simply a slightly failed remake of an over-rated original.

Clash Of The Titans, on the other hand, is a pretty incompetant remake of a very flawed original. Its one of those films where everything is effects so nothing is surprising. The film has no real characters, just cliches that wander in for a few minutes, in a series of vaguely motivated actions scenes, that are then killed. Sam Worthington makes a dull hero. Liam Neeson's Zeus makes no sense, and the film just sits there, with great mythic potential being squandered, most of the monsters being bland representations of myth. Only the River Styx and Hades has any real interest and Ralph Fiennes isn't given much to do as the latter. A truly bad example of a remake, and a pretty weak film from a  director who was once promising in the action sphere, but who gets worse the more money he gets (Frenchman Louis Letterier).

Influences. I've been watching Mad Men (terrific, much better than expected) and there's a real Patricia Highsmith influence. Not just in the idea of a central character who is fake in a sixties backdrop but in the various types of unease, pretense, and developing but stunted emotion. As a Highsmith fan its good to see worked on in a TV show. I've only seen season one so far of course.

Direct to DVD. I've recently seen Universal Soldier: Regeneration. Its a fun movie. The downside is in the writing, which is clunky at times, which plot movement that's not always interesting. On the plus side, Van Damme is trying hard and is effective as a damaged soldier (I generally dislike Van Damme), and Dolph Lungren is back from the dead, and steals the movie in a glorified cameo. He also has a funny ending (Admission, I've always kinda liked Dolph, although he's better and has more to do in The Expandables). There's not much dialogue, which means its more of a stripped down b-movie, which is always fun. The best thing in it is actually its direction, from John Hyams. Despite budget limitations, the film is always on point to story, has some very good and clear action that always has punch, has good use of atmosphere. The best bits are an opening kidnapping and a section where Van Damme takes out a group of mercenaries, which is just brutal. Its got a good early Walter Hill vibe, despite the fact that its a Universal Soldier sequel (its far supierior to the original). So this is a director to watch, who should be getting a bigger budget. Its also much better directed than the above remakes. (another good Direct to DVD title is Undisputed 2)

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