North Texas Daily

Remaking movies can be a wonderful thing

Remaking movies can be a wonderful thing

September 20
13:15 2016

Among the most common controversies of movie discussions has to do with Hollywood remaking classic films. Whether it’s from someone’s childhood or a gem they recently discovered, a lot of my friends can be overly protective of certain movies. Thanks to the upcoming “Magnificent Seven” re-imagining, I’m hearing those criticisms once more.

In a sense, I understand the disgruntlement. As a movie junkie, I have my own favorites that I hold as sacrosanct. Like every other art form, those special films play big roles in creating our tastes and personalities. Nonetheless, it’s our duty as consumers to ensure that every art form can evolve with time. Because when remakes are done well, they can be a wonderful thing.

For starters, Hollywood has recycled ideas since synchronized sound killed the silent age in 1927. Due to these audio innovations, cinematic musicals took shape. By doing so, MGM could transform 1925’s “Wizard of Oz” into a much more imaginative work of fantasy. Hence, their 1939 iteration — the one we all know and love.

Some of the most popular movies ever made are remakes. Clint Eastwood wouldn’t be so iconic without someone turning a brilliant Japanese samurai movie (“Yojimbo”) into a legendary Italian western (“A Fistful of Dollars”). As good as the 1932 “Scarface” is, the moments everybody remember are from the Al Pacino version. And while it’s easy to be livid about Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt leading a new “Magnificent Seven,” don’t forget that the original was another remake of a samurai adventure.

Now, I’m not saying that every classic needs an update. Timeless opuses like “Casablanca,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Taxi Driver” cannot be outdone. Decent movies (or those that “missed the mark”) are perfectly conducive for a redo. Look at “Ocean’s Eleven,” which took the premise of a bad Rat Pack caper, gave it an actual budget and became one of George Clooney’s biggest hits.

Another example is my favorite horror film of all time: 1982’s “The Thing.” It wouldn’t exist if an audacious John Carpenter (“Halloween”) hadn’t approached “The Thing from Another World,” thinking he could improve it. That cheesy ‘50s B-movie inspired his groundbreaking masterpiece of sci-fi terror, which still captivates to this day.

Lastly, the Coen brothers were bold enough to touch “True Grit,” the movie that won John Wayne an Oscar. Truth be told, it’s a great movie that took numerous liberties with the original novel — something that the Coens had a legitimate gripe with. As such, their adaptation turned out to be a dark, enthralling and astonishing counterpart to its predecessor. Honestly, it’s my preferred version of the story.

Be mindful next time you accuse Hollywood of being commerce in lieu of merit. Just like any artistic movement, equal amounts of good and bad are abundant in the remake world.

For lasting advice, don’t get so heated whenever classics receive the makeover treatment. Even if Jaden Smith and Taylor Lautner were cast in a hypothetical “Breakfast Club” revival, I’m staying calm. That movie could be absolute trash, but the old disc will remain on my shelf regardless.

I, for one, will always hope that stories can reach their fullest potential. I’m waiting to see what Ben Affleck’s “Witness for the Prosecution” looks like. I’m ready for that new “Mummy” movie to be the fright fest it always should’ve been. And as someone that likes Denzel, Chris Pratt and westerns in general, I’m willingly going to see “The Magnificent Seven” soon.

We’re living in exciting times right now, and entertainment is only doing what it does best.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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