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The Cheesy Action Movie Makes a TV Comeback

Cinemax has a new business strategy. Forget the porn and bring on TV series remakes of action movies. Like The Transporter.

The Transporter movies are played out so an Atlantic TV series makes sense. The Transporter lacks Jason Statham’s maniacal robotic streak, but between this and Strike Back it’s nice to see the cheesy action movie making a comeback. If bringing the cheesy action movie back as a cable series works out for Cinemax, maybe somebody will try to make a SciFi Channel that plays Science Fiction.

Who knows. It might happen.

Fletch Keeps Bouncing

With the Weinsteins moving around, the attempt to get back to Fletch movies has been taking a very long time, especially since back in the day when Kevin Smith was supposed to be involved in them (Kiss of Death! Kiss of Death) back when the Weinsteins wanted Kevin Smith involved in everything and Kevin Smith thought he should be involved in everything, up to and including Superman. Back then Chevy Chase still thought he should be in Fletch. Probably they should have just put him in there since no movie has yet to be made. Call it the curse of the Chevy.

So far they’ve tried their usual cast of loveable TV losers. The most horrifying prospect had Zach Braff up in the role, an idea right up there with viral dementia. It would be like casting Martin Lawrence to play Sherlock Holmes especially since Zach Braff, unlike Martin Lawrence, can’t do either funny or cool, just pathetic nerdy, which is enough to get him the blonds but not enough to actually make anyone want to watch him.

Jason Lee had been talked about for a while and would be a great choice. Ryan Reynolds would be a middling one Joshua Jackson isn’t old enough or doesn’t look old enough to pull it off. Five years from now he might be good but let’s hope Fletch isn’t still bouncing around unmade. And now we’ve got John Krasinski in the mix.

It’s inevitable that the stars of a popular TV show are going to take their shot at movie roles but the problem with John Krasinski is he isn’t a star. His personality works great within the confines of The Office but try and move him off that halogen lit reservation and the whole scheme falls apart, as License to Wed makes clear. And really, Jason Lee is a big enough star these days with My Name is Earl. And unlike Krasinski, Jason Lee is the real thing. He can do actual comedy and perform. Krasinski is basically Jerry Seinfeld. He can make sardonic reaction shots work but he can’t branch out into real performances.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Anyone who has a deep emotional connection to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and is upset that Michael Bay is raping their childhood needs to move on. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began life as a parody and with continuing cartoon series on TV it can survive whatever Bay in his role as producer does to it. Probably.

Unlike John Carter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a reliable movie and TV brand. There have been TV shows and movies based on that title going back over twenty years. That makes it a compelling brand and raises the question of why anyone would buy a brand and then trash the name recognition for it.

The last turtles movie decided to jettison the title for the cooler and more compact TMNT. Its performance was decent enough, considering the budget, but not the kind of money Bay is hoping to pull from this. The title change, which depended heavily on image recognition probably didn’t help it perform.

What does changing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Ninja Turtles gain? It weakens the name recognition and doesn’t add anything. Ninja Turtles isn’t going to be taken any more seriously. If you’re going to make a movie about ninja turtles, whether they’re aliens or mutants, you might as well stick with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Michael Bay loves alien invasions like candy, but it’s just common sense that the version of the story that has been tested for over twenty years is the one that works. There’s no point in changing it, because there’s nothing to be gained from the change. You don’t make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a movie because you want to make a serious story about alien invasions. Goofiness is the whole point of it. Take that away and there is no point.

But the Hollywood model now is to just snap up and develop every available IP into a movie. And then figure out what the movie should be. That’s how we got Battleship the movie. But it’s still a stupid approach to take with a viable active IP like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which isn’t just a board game sitting there waiting to be optioned.

Does it rape anyone’s childhood? Kids care very little about most of the movies being made today and adults too attached to the things they liked as kids need to move on. The Star Wars experience that many of them had isn’t going to be repeated for kids today and that’s the real crime. John Carter had a shot at doing that. Whatever crap George Lucas, J.J. Abrams and Michael Bay pump out won’t.

21 Jump Street the Trailer

So we’ve gone well beyond the point where we look at a pointless remake and go, “Why”, not that it isn’t a valid response, but because we’d be doing it all day. Still with that said, why?

I can understand making 21 Jump Street the Movie. When you’re making Battleship the Movie and Footloose the remake and Transformers 4 will probably bring in more money than Guam has ever seen, it’s not so crazy anymore. But 21 Jump Street isn’t a very complicated story, bunch of cops who can pass for TV teens go undercover and comment on social issues. So swap that out with Jonah Hill and somebody going back to high school to be able to drink beer and be popular again.

It’s not like 21 Jump Street was some kind of perfect formula, but there were distinct characters doing something. This is like a parody of an 80’s movie with a whole lot of bro jokes and the whole thing isn’t funny. Jonah Hill used to have great line delivery and maybe it’s around here someplace, but it’s weak.

Mostly this reminds me of Green Hornet, where there’s no real action, just comedy and something classic that really isn’t hard to make is completely ruined for no discernible reason.

Straw Dogs, Then and Now

Straw Dogs was one of the movies that it made the least sense to remake. But if you do remake it, swapping out Dustin Hoffman for James Marsden makes even less sense, not just from the acting angle, but because putting a guy who plays comic book superheroes into a suit and sticking glasses on him is just a pose. Having Dustin Hoffman go violent was a game changer. Having James Marsden do it is no biggie.

Going from England to American hicks makes it an even bigger cliche and you end up with something that looks a lot like a hundred other movies. The undertone of contempt in the relationship is also missing. So the real question then is why bother.

Were there are a lot of people who wanted to see a remake of Straw Dogs? I doubt there’s anyone who saw Straw Dogs, who wanted to see a remake of Straw Dogs. It’s like a remake of 2001 or Taxi Driver (I’m sure that’s coming) except that’s way more obscure. And if you’re going to make a generic thriller loosely based on a famous movie, what’s the market for it? There isn’t one.

More Blade Runner

Assuming the Ridley Scott helmed Blade Runner isn’t a reboot or a remake, then it might be one of the more palatable of these projects. Unlike Alien, Blade Runner wasn’t mined to death in multiple sequels. But is there room for a sequel?

Purists might say no, but the K.W. Jeter novels were loosely plausible ways to keep the story going. Those aren’t a factor without Harrison Ford and even in Ford’s career state now, he’s not too likely to sign on for this. And even if he did, age would be an issue.

That means a story set in the same universe. Also doable. The challenge would be making it work in the present day movie environment. No one’s putting up money to make another Blade Runner, a surreal chrome edged noir. Scott will be working from an action movie script, and if Prometheus turns out to be a disaster, he’ll have even more people looking over his shoulder.

So can a Blade Runner movie deliver action and a compelling story? Maybe. Depends on the script. Ridley Scott isn’t at the top of his game either. And the only reason a Blade Runner movie is being made is because it’s a name people have heard of. Still it’s not the worst idea ever. We have Battleship to thank for that.

The 90 Million Dollar Jason Momoa Mistake

Can you blame Conan the Barbarian failing on Jason Momoa? Not all of it. August is not the best time to release movies and the box office was overcrowded with movies aimed at young adult males already. That let The Help sweep past them to the top, while movies like Fright Night, Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens fought over the winnings.

But you can blame some of it. If you’re going to cast a barbarian, he should be well… barbaric. Schwarzenegger projected the thug with a sword because it wasn’t too far off from what he was. A relentlessly ambitious bodybuilder willing to do anything to get to the top. Jason Momoa recalls The Rock, a nice guy who happens to be big. The Rock at least came out of wrestling and knew how to put on some attitude. Momoa can’t even seem to do that much.

Casting him in Game of Thrones was a mistake. But putting him in Conan, that was a 90 million dollar mistake. Stick a wrestling star in there and the movie might have worked. It wouldn’t have been good, and it probably wouldn’t have passed 20 million, but it wouldn’t have been flat. Ron Perlman channels the savage early on, and that’s what Conan needed to be. But Momoa’s Conan just goes through the motions.

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