Old Movie Remakes: Is Hollywood Running out of Ideas?
“What is your take on so many old movies being remade? Is it because Hollywood can’t come up with anything new on their own?”
My YouTube answer is here:
Otherwise, keep reading.
I don’t mind remakes of old Si-Fi or Fantasy movies. Because back in the day their reach exceeded their grasp. They were doing the best they could. If it’s justified and well done, do it.
- Justified – Means to Si-Fi or Fantasy that lacked the special effects. I remember watching King Kong movie that was made in ’33. The stop-motion filming at the time was great but think of Jurassic Park. To the contemporary eye, the old Kong looks horrible. You and I may watch these old movies for nostalgia. That’s fine but you don’t want to sit a 12-year-old boy down to watch ’33 Kong. He won’t be able to suspend his disbelief. He needs to see Peter Jackson’s remake.
- Should be well done: The Time Machine made in 1960, starring Rod Taylor is a classic. Great story, great ending. But the special effects would be laughable the modern eye. The classic Planet of the Apes was also redone. The problem with both these remakes is they strayed off the original storylines. Whereas the earlier Machine the character is exploring the future for the sake of exploring the future, in the modern Machine the character is self-absorbed. Planet of the Apes original had one *spoiler alert* the most astonishing endings in filmmaking history. The modern Apes totally fumbled the ending, but it had great special effects.
I don’t think Singing in the Rain should be remade. It’s great. Watching that old scene makes me smile. It can’t be improved visually. I feel the same about Star Wars. But if a movie is going to remade do not change the story! These movies originally succeeded because of the story, not the special effects. Just like Lord of the Rings was published on paper doesn’t mean the story needs to changes when it’s published on Kindle. I’m not talking about adapting a novel to film, that’s a different topic. So, if you mess with the plot and characters it’s a big gamble. Making a movie more believable visually should be the goal, not changing the story.
Next question: There two big problems I see.
Is Hollywood running out of the ideas?
- Yes, but not for lack of potential. Hollywood’s narrowed its focus and it’s heavily influenced by political corrects since the 70s. There are many but the best examples are military movies. For the most part, military movies are anti-military which translates to anti-war (which is just as stupid as being anti-peace). Hollywood draws the soldier into the theater and then humiliates him or his family. The trend has been better recently, 13 Hours, American Sniper and Lone Survivor. But even in these great movies cynicism about military service and/or action prevails. Make a well done American movie about a military victory that saves innocent people or defends liberty and you’ll have a huge hit. But mostly the modern creative types want to paint an American flag on Luke’s X-Wing fighter, give him PTSD because he accidentally bombed an Ewok wedding. Left-wing political correctness rules Hollywood and it ruins a lot of Potential.
- The breakdown of Structure is the other problem caused by a “There Are No Rules” philosophy. The field is fertile but the seed is bad. I won’t name the writing coach and I don’t know if she is still around, but she promulgates the lie that there are no rules in the making of a good story. I think her website is literally named “There Are No Rules”. Years ago, I fell victim to this anti-intellectual approach. I waited for inspiration. I learned some hard lessons. I thought I could just sit down and start writing. Most of us aren’t Stephen King or Stephen Spielberg. (Maybe I should change my name to Steve). But tribes off screenwriters are out there churning away creating drivel. The “no rules” mindset comes from postmodernism that has a stranglehold on the creative culture. So, that leads to lack of discipline. Study the craft? Why do that when they can meditate or smoke a joint and tap into the universal consciousness. Or, I’ve seen a lot of movies so I can write a screenplay. That’s like saying because I’ve driven over lots of bridges I can build one. There are screenwriter coaches going against the tide. Blake Snyder was one (he died a few years back) but he wrote, Save the Cat. Larry Brooks is another. Brooks’ book Story Engineering is a masterpiece and it helped me crystalize the essential core elements of my book Blood & Soul. Story Engineering rescued me from waiting for inspiration and gave me handles on what I was trying to do. It’s not inspiration is perspiration. It’s not just working hard, it’s working smart. Though I had read a lot of books, I needed to learn how to build the structure, the bridge. There are rules. If you ignore them it will cost, dearly. Until most wannabe screenwriters start bringing the idea of structure back into writing more stories will be written and that will increase the odds of better screenplays.
Thanks for reading or watching.