Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Original Movie...

There’s this really cool new thing that people do when a new movie is announced or a trailer comes out or something. They rush to their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, MySpace, text, or emerge from their dens, mole-like to announce that the movie they just heard about is just a remake of something or a sequel, then bemoan the total lack of original ideas emerging from Hollywood. It’s a totally original argument, and don’t worry, you’re the first person to have made that observation, and no one has ever made it before.

I’m going to get the most obvious thing out of the way, mostly that the biggest movies of the summer thus far have been sequels, remakes, or in one case a sequel to a remake, while the original movies are buried in arthouses because everyone except the snobbiest of art snobs refuses to see them. Seriously, you’ve got a million people in line to see Fast and the Furious 15: Just the Rock Running from Explosions in Slow Motion, but we’re going to bemoan how everyone is sick of sequels and remakes. Yeah, right.

It’s too bad that remakes have existed since the dawn of time. (There’s a strong theory that I just made up that says the Earth in fact, is just a remake of an earlier Earth that didn’t include any Kardashians. God just put them here to shake things up for a bit. I’m not one to doubt the Almighty, but that was a bad call.) But humans have been remaking things since the first actor broke free from the Greek Chorus, realized he needed something to turn into popular entertainment, and some 40 year old guy in the audience (that’s like, 70 in today’s age) who just said, “meh. The cave paintings were better.”

I like to keep repeating this phrase: Shakespeare stole almost everything he ever wrote. Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, the unmentionable Scottish Play (which was actually stolen from history to suck up to the new boss, failed miserably), Romeo and Juliet... it’s likely that the only original Shakespeare Play that came just from the Bard’s memory was The Tempest, and that was all about how the world didn’t really need him.

Let’s even look at the latest from Johnny Depp, The Lone Ranger which is currently sinking like a stone tied to a bunch of heavier stones at the box office as I write this. “It’s a remake!” You screech as you hold up your cross and slink towards the light of an indie film that’s a coming of age story that’s been told a billion times but the twist this time is that the young protagonist has a complicated relationship with his mother instead of his father. “They should have left the old TV Show alone!” I’m just curious if you mean that old TV show that was taken from the radio show.

That sound. That sound of your jaw hitting your desk. That’s the sound of me, dropping the mic. I’d walk away if I didn’t have more to say.

Let’s not go back to Shakespeare, but let’s bring the time machine forward to the golden age of Hollywood when scandal meant an actress showed a little too much ankle at her latest film release, and the internet was called “newspapers.” (We’re so much more enlightened. Who was wearing a thong this week? Let me just google and check.) Early film and television (called “Glowing Soul Boxes” back then) needed content, where did they turn? They turned to books, plays, and anywhere else they can get the content needed to turn your eyes to the glowing rectangle in front of you. And what you knew to that point was that Tennessee Williams was getting some buzz in this whole play thing, let’s see how it translated to radio waves. Hey, kids parked themselves in front of the radio to imagine a world of cowboys and indians, how are they going to react when they can see the gunfire RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES. It was a brave new world.

Look, I’m not saying the dearth of sequels and remakes isn’t sad-making. Unless that sequel is Serenity 2. There are literally millions of good ideas out there that are getting buried by yet another sequel or remake of the reboot. Like a story about a group of space-cowboys who fly around fighting the establishment. Just sayin’. But the problem is that people continue to complain about a problem that:

  1. isn’t really a “problem” per se... if you like the movie, and you want to spend more time with them, then go see the movie again. Apparently a lot of people are doing that.
  2. has existed since before the dawn of the medium. We’re constantly remaking or sequeling something so we can try to find a new interpretation. (which is why people complained about Man of Steel being too “dark” despite the fact that Superman believed the best in everyone. It was a reinterpretation.)
  3. could easily be solved by going to see original movies, TV shows, etc, but people are too frightened by new things to check out these original things. Why roll the dice on a truly quirky movie like John Dies at the End when you can roll yourself up in a warm comfortable blanket of Generic Action Movie #76.

This debate will continue to rage as long as they’re making movies. It will rage while they’re beaming the stories directly to our brains starring any actor we want. (I’m looking forward to the all Nic Cage version of Much Ado About Nothing.) But if you’re going to continue to complain about remakes or sequels, then go seek out something unique. It’s out there if you can look. I personally don’t mind, I’m looking forward to Die Hard 90: Just Bruce Willis Yelling Catchphrases. Because I know that the reboot and sequel is a rich part of our cultural history.

And Joss, seriously, call me when you want to start up on Serenity 2.

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