Tag Archives: Unnecessary remakes

Overboard (2018)

When it’s over, Sean turns to me and says ‘I know you recently crowned SPF-18 the worst movie ever, but what do you think, could this usurp it?’ And the thing is yeah – he’s not wrong, though I must uncomfortably remind him that while we watched SPF-18 for “free” (Netflix), we paid to watch this shit. Which makes its awfulness that much harder to swallow.

Sure the 1987 version was horribly sexist, but it was also soaked in charm. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell had major chemistry, and Garry Marshall knew how to wring a scene for laughs. In the 2018 remake, it’s hard not to compare Anna Faris to Goldie Hawn, and it’s impossible for her not to lose, and by quite a large margin. Hawn has big presence and effortless likeability. Faris has her wide mouth and not much else.

In 2018, the roles are reversed. Kate (Faris) is the hard-working widow, and Leo (Eugenio Derbez) the pompous, spoiled brat. She meets him one day vacuuming up a glitter bomb on his beautiful yacht, and failing to meet his impossible standards, is MV5BZjNkOTNjMjktZGI5Yi00ODJjLWFhMzQtZWQ2YTU3NDBiNzRmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1502,1000_AL_thrown overboard, unpaid. He later suffers an accident and ends up unidentified in a hospital with amnesia (his evil sister refusing to claim him so she can inherit the family business) so Kate, egged on by her best friend Theresa (Eva Longoria),decides to claim him as her husband and force him into a life of servitude in order to extort retribution. Nothing about this new life feels familiar to Leo, and he’s not immediately great at working a back-breaking job, doing all the housework, caring for 3 kids, and getting nothing in return.

Eugenio Derbez is a curious choice to play the leading man here. He’s a big star in Mexico but virtually unknown to the rest of North America. He’s also too old for Anna Faris, and not handsome enough, and doesn’t seem at home in either end of his role’s spectrum – the rich playboy, or the blue-collar dad. Either Overboard got some major Mexican money and had to meet certain conditions, or they were courting the Mexican box office (indeed, that’s where it made half its money) hard. Either way, Derbez just doesn’t fit. And Anna Faris, while never my favourite, has something to offer, though that something was left on the table. She’s more adept at physical comedy, screwball stuff, and the script did not play to her strengths at all. The chemistry between them is non-existent. How did this thing even get off the ground?

Never mind the fact that the premise just hasn’t aged very well. I mean, she’s basically kidnapping a mentally disabled person and forcing him into slavery. And when she delivers a laundry list of chores for him to complete on top of his two jobs and caregiving responsibilities, it just comes off as mean. Which isn’t nearly as bad as how she comes off as a mother. First, the gall to complain that her mother (Swoozie Kurtz, whom I have never not loved) is not prepared to derail her whole life in order to care for Kate’s kids full-time. Um, they’re your kids Kate. I get that it’s tough to be a single parent, but it’s nobody’s responsibility but yours. Second, she constant reminds us how icky it is to leave her three young daughters alone with a strange man (the only thing she knows about him is that he’s a horndog douchebag, ie, not great babysitting material) and yet it happens over and over. Kate is a widow, apparently, though that’s mentioned once and forgotten. There is no mourning being done in her household – no mentions, no memories, no pictures even. So I get why she might “fall” for a provider type, someone to lessen her burden. But why would Leo fall for her? She’s so much worse than just your standard liar: she’s amoral and selfish and exploitative. This is not a love story you can root for and not a comedy you can laugh at. So what the heck’s the point?

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Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is the tough and independent daughter of a wealthy adventurer who disappeared 7 years ago and is presumed dead. So when she learns his secret obsession with an ancient Japanese myth, she pursues him to the unknown island that seems to have swallowed him whole. It seems like a really bad decision to follow in the footsteps of a dead man, but Lara (Alicia Vikander) doesn’t just put her life on the line, she involves an innocent stranger too (Daniel Wu), just as her father did. So if you’re wondering who the Croft family is, they appear to be in it solely for themselves, and fuck every body else.

So Lara makes her way to this evil island where she meets up with a bad man named Mathias (Walter Goggins) and things go from merely murdery to a whole shit tonne MV5BMTBjZDBiNGEtYjhlMC00YmM1LThmZWEtOWE1ZjhhMDg5MDEzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODAyMDA1MDk@._V1_of worse.  And even though she’s been violently shipwrecked and then hunted, actually hunted on an island that seems intent on killing her, she somehow maintains a perfectly shaped brow and stubble-free armpits, which are constantly on display thanks to a skimpy outfit that seems particularly ill-advised when visiting malaria-infested countries. So while Lara may be about to out-box me, I’ll still take the victory because I packed the DEET. Though I suppose I should concede that the Vikander version of Lara is slightly more grounded and slightly less lustily rendered on the screen than was Angelina Jolie.

Tomb Raider is fine, I guess, except for some painful green screen moments that are ENTIRELY unconvincing. And the fact that it’s boring as shit to watch someone solve a puzzle when the puzzle is never shown or known to us. It’s just a lot of knob twisting. Vikander is tough as balls but the story is uninspired and makes no arguments for its own existence. This franchise didn’t need a reboot and it got a rather lacklustre one, despite Vikander’s charm.

 

Total Recall (2012)

It’s been a while since I’ve watched the 1990 version of Total Recall, and yet it was still obvious to me that the 2012 version was the same in plot but different in setting. The setting change was particularly jarring. It is bizarre to me that Mars does not enter into the 2012 movie at all – Australia stands in, which is not really an even trade.  No offense, Australia, but a destination (/colony) I can reach by airplane is not nearly as futuristic-feeling as a colony on another planet. Also, is the fahero_EB20120801REVIEWS120739999ARct they refer to Australia as “the Colony” in Total Recall a little too close to home?

As with all remakes, I waited for the 2012 Total Recall to justify its existence. And like a lot of remakes, it never did. The Total Recall remake is more serious and more down to earth than the original, and both of those are bad things. The original stands above, not just because it did everything first (including the three boobed prostitute) but because it did everything better (including giving a reason why there would be a three boobed prostitute).

The original is campy and dumb and fun. The remake is muted and sterile and dull. The difference between the two is exactly the difference between 80s Arnold (no last name needed) and Colin Farrell (no time period needed since to say he peaked would wrongly imply he was ever much good). No one with any sense would choose Farrell over 80s Arnold as an action hero, and likewise no one should watch 2012 Total Recall when 1990 Total Recall is either in your basement/garage or the basement/garage of a friend, gathering dust with hundreds of other DVDs.

Flatliners

Courtney is a medical student in a competitive hospital. She’s not content with just being the best, she wants to be a pioneer, and she’s got her eye on quite the break-through: she wants to be an expert in the afterlife. To that end, she recruits a few brave colleagues to do some top-secret experimenting in the hospital’s basement. She somehow convinces them to stop her heart for a full minute before resuscitating her. When she wakes up, her brain is re-wired, keyed up to excel, to remember everything, to reach further, better, higher. So of course her fellow students are jealous, and curious, and lineup to have their hearts stopped.

Ellen Page is kind of the coolest. I respect her. She makes everything she’s in better. Flatliners-stillBut you can hardly make something better if it isn’t remotely good to begin with. The thing is, the idea behind this movie is probably solid. But this movie takes an interesting premise and immediately flushes it down the nearest toilet. It takes philosophy and science and turns it into a party drug, giving lots of opportunity for shirtless dancing but not a whole lot else. It’s supposed to be a horror movie and it does lazily throw some things at the screen in order to startle you, but it doesn’t try hard enough at anything. I don’t even think the original was all that great, but trying to make a second cup of tea from the same old tea bag makes for a very weak cuppa.

The most character-building the movie strives for is to give each student a name, and a haircut. Basically they’re all greedy, selfish, horny little pricks. Shouldn’t med students know better than to intentionally die?

Newsflash, guys: bringing stuff back from the dead is rarely a good idea. It’s funny that the director made a movie about this but never took the lesson to heart.

Ben-Hur

The weird thing we all noticed in the trailers of Ben-Hur is that there were no big names. No names mentioned at all. No recognizable faces. I know the actor playing Ben-Hur – it’s Jack Huston, and I came to know him on Boardwalk Empire – but he’s not well-known. Matt never recognized him without the half tin-face, and Sean doesn’t know him from the third freckle to the left of his arsehole. Huston’s decent in it, but he’s no movie star. Isn’t it weird that a studio would spend $100 million dollars on a movie and neglect to cast any celebrities? And I don’t mean Kanye West as Jesus (Yeezus?) – but to cast a whole roster full of nobodies seems like a gamble.

So Ben-Hur is a bonafide flop. Not because Jack Huston couldn’t carry it, but because he benhur-faithtrailer-1-1024x426.pngshould never have been asked to. And of course you could say that Ben-Hur didn’t need a remake, but the simple truth is that no movie needs a shitty remake. If you insist on having a go at a famous and beloved movie, you’d better be bringing something to the table. And Timur Bekmambetov thought he was: CGI. But he failed to appreciate that a lone 10-minute sequence of blood-rushing speed just doesn’t cut it anymore. This is the era of action. 60% of the shite in theatres right this very minute, competing against it, is action-packed. Suicide Squad, which is a pretty terrible movie, is at least more energetic. Star Trek Beyond is full-throttle. The days where Charlton Heston going all fast & furious on a chariot could save a movie are gone. Long gone.

I’m trying my hardest to think of one nice thing I can say about this, but I’m drawing a blank. The editing is tumultuous. I think the film makers are relying on our general knowledge of the classic Ben-Hur to pull us through this one’s bumpy ride in story-telling (quite general: lots of details are changed, and I’m not sure to what end). That, and two really genius visual aids: 1. white horsies vs. black horsies (guess which ones the good guys ride) 2. Caesar haircuts vs. Jesus haircuts (guess which ones the good guys wear).  Subtle enough for you? Not that it matters. This movie lost me in its first 5 minutes. You know why? It’s stupid. You’re going to want to kick a black horse. It was a camera angle that took me out of the time period. It made me feel like Judah Ben-Hur was wearing a GoPro. He may as well have posed for a selfie.

The 1959 epic Ben-Hur used 2500 real, live horses and 10 000 real, live people. It was made with love – I know this because one of the last living American crew members told me so

BEN-HUR

Morgan Freeman plays Ilderim and Jack Huston plays Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

in a documentary recently (The Man Who Saved Ben-Hur. Unfortunately he died before he could save us all from this one). Ben-Hur 2016 is a re-imagining lacking imagination. It used just 86 horses, 400 extras, lots of computer fakery, and – fuck me – GoPro cameras. Jesus fuck. Speaking of whom: unbelievably, the 2016 version is the more Jesusy of the two. I suppose producers were hoping for a built-in Christian audience, but the heavy-handed message will likely ring false even with them.

I’m afraid that this iteration of Ben-Hur is a symbol of our culture generally: devoid of our own ideas, we steal old ones and then make them crappier by half-assing things and cutting corners. Tell me I’m wrong.

A Star Is Born (1976)

John Norman Howard is 3 hours late to his own show. The 50K people spilling out of the stadium are restless, but they aren’t leaving. When he does arrive, they’re ready to forgive everything, but he’s not even sober enough to remember the words to his own songs.

Meanwhile, Esther Hoffman, an unknown songstress, is the “filling” in a trio regrettably called The Oreos, performing in a bar that serves warm beer or herbal tea. It’s not a great place, and it goes downhill when it’s terrorized by a drunken, sloppy, washed up rockstar. Intentionally or not, he’s incredibly disruptive, and Esther (Barbra Streisand) knows when a gig’s gone belly-up. Generously she leads John (Kris Kristofferson) out to safety.

MV5BMTQ5MzMyMjI0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODk4NTUyNw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1544,1000_AL_This is where the numerous A Star Is Born remakes made their jump from acting to pop music. My Mom had this soundtrack on vinyl when I was a kid – she was still a kid herself when this came out. She though Kristofferson was a dish.

Anyway, though undiscovered, Esther is a pretty confident babe. It’s clearly a role written specifically for Babs, who shines her special light every moment she’s on screen, which means it’s hard to believe her as anything but The Voice. Although, to be fair, it’s even harder to believe her as a serious love interest – Streisand and Kristofferson do not have so much as a microwave lightbulb’s worth of heat between them. They often substitute cornball humour for passion, and that’s an awkward trade-off that grinds things to a halt.

Esther is mouthy; John Norman is irascible and intoxicated and is deathly afraid of buttoning his top 6 buttons. They’re not exactly a lovable pair, and god help us when the whole thing takes its time getting going. It feels like a cliche that he needs exactly her kind of saving, and yet there it is. Of course, when her star is shooting upward, he gets predictably petulant.

All this to say I’m not a big fan of the movie. I guess you’re in it for the music or you’re not in it at all. Not to worry though, if you don’t like this one, there are a half a dozen other iterations to try!