Posted: 31 January 2014
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor” – Alexis Carrel.
The new movie is Coming Soon… but we’ve seen it before, countless times if you regard it as a classic of sci-fi action movies.
Robocop, originally released in 1987, was a fine piece of work, a futuristic action (perhaps overly ultraviolent) thriller, deftly melding sci-fi with black humour and cultural satire, elevated above tawdry run-of-the-mill video-rental status by deep drama laden with themes of identity, memories and loss.
But why, oh why, do we need a new version of it?
Those fans who were awe-struck by it enough to go out and buy the VHS, VCD, DVD (tick appropriate box) would certainly not want to have it rehashed; the negative reaction to the two inferior sequels provided ample warning to leave this vehicle alone.
Accepting the ideology that a remake should exist primarily to improve or enhance the qualities (or lack thereof) of a misfiring original, the case for a rebooted Robocop is decidedly flimsy.
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past” – George Orwell.
The most recent waste-of-space that was Total Recall, and a pointless retread of Evil Dead, has turned the phenomenon of the remake into an all-too-familiar blight on our already sullied “modern” culture. With a steady torrent of new movies comfortably sourcing from Marvel or DC superhero comics, it would appear that the scope for fresh and original movies has been diminished. Of course, it has got to the point where the likes of Spider-Man are being rehashed again and again. The word: ‘tiresome’ springs to mind.
Does this mean that all the good ideas have run out?
On the contrary, frustratingly, there is an abundance of talent, but it is stymied by an industry with a certain agenda and umpteen millions of dollars at stake; in addition, where ticket sales exceed every aspect of the (so-called) creative process, the big studios simply cannot gamble with an untried concept, no matter how intriguing the premise might be. Thus, alas, there is no chance of seeing any of my fresh material produced (especially by those big studios), and the prospect of rewriting one of my favourite movies just to showcase the next level of insipid CGI is, quite frankly, not relished… in the slightest, thank you.
Ho hum, this writer ponders whether there have been any decent remakes. Hmmmm…
Erm, still thinking… Oh for the love of…! It’s difficult to think of just one… isn’t it?
“There are a lot of movies that I don’t care about, especially not remakes” – John Carpenter.
Aah, yes! Cast your mind back to 1982, and a certain sci-fi horror, which did not fare well because it repulsed most of the unsuspecting cinema-goers. The Thing was not so much a remake of the (rather tame) 1951 RKO picture: The Thing From Another World, but a tougher and more engrossing reworking, directed by cult movie-maker John Carpenter – who (guess what!) has had to endure at least three of his pictures remade recently.
With the almost unbearable isolation invoked by its remote setting and the fears which it induces – not to mention the inability to deal with something beyond the ensemble’s wildest imaginations – a truly horrific situation, there is some of the most irresistible dialogue on offer; many a time Bradscribe has sought to replicate that style of hard-hitting and memorable banter, but ended up with inferior results!
The film’s major – certainly most enduring – element is the wildly original visual effects created by Rob Bottin. Besides the gruesome spectacle, there are some memorable shots and scenes; even selecting just one pic to illustrate the film’s strengths was a challenge – there are so many to choose from. To round off, The Thing is a true classic, perhaps the greatest remake ever done, worthy of a blog all to itself…
Perhaps the (ill-advised) maker of the new Robocop should have watched The Thing to see how remakes ought to be done; if he has already… then why hasn’t he learnt anything?