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#017. Better Remakes

If there’s one thing that Hollywood likes to do, it’s re-make films that have been made before (sequels is a close second). Why go through the effort of making up something new, if you just have to re-package an already existing work? Unfortunately, this has led to a major decline in creativity in Hollywood over the last few decades. Many times, the films remade weren’t particularly noteworthy on their first iteration, but occasionally a classic is remade and whole graveyards start spinning. And yet, occasionally there are remakes that out-do the originals. Perhaps they held closer to the source material, or the technology of film had finally advanced to the point where it improved the story. One film that I would like to see be remade is Fahrenheit 451 (1966). I think that with today’s CGI, Ray Bradbury’s vision could be much better represented. But alas, not all films have a chance to be done again with the amount of improvements that this weeks’ two movies have had.

Ocean’s Eleven
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Length: 116 minutes /1.93 hours

There’s no doubt that the 1960 film that featured the ever popular “Rat Pack” was an OK movie in it’s own right. Times were just a little simpler back then. After all, when you get a bunch of singers together in a movie, why wouldn’t they just go around singing? Despite the appeal of the actors, the plot of the film seemed somewhat lacking. Sure, they wanted to pull a heist against a casino, but it seemed more like something to do in their spare time, rather than a focused attack of vengeance. Plus, the security measures in 1960 were certainly not as impressive as they are today. In fact, it seems that all you would need to do to rob a casino in the ’60s would be to cut the power after a clever application of glow-in-the-dark paint, and even that latter part you probably don’t even need.

In the 2001 remake, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) has just gotten out of jail and he’s on a mission to steal from the one man who stole something invaluable from him: his wife, Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts). Of course, when Danny starts gathering people to get back at Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), he’s not looking to complete a four-part harmony like Frank Sinatra was in the original. He needs the right kinds of people to pull off numerous cons simultaneously to get into perhaps the most secure safe in Las Vegas. Instead of just needing someone to cut the power, the 2001 Danny Ocean needs demolition experts, contortionists, cyber-hackers and numerous other experts to get into Terry Benedict’s vault. Are they up to the challenge, or should they go back to 1960, when this whole thing was a lot easier?

The Maltese Falcon
Year: 1941
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

Most people are surprised to find out that one of the most iconic movies of all time was itself a remake. What’s even more surprising is that the 1941 version was the third time that this plot (based on a 1930 novel of the same name) had hit the silver screen. The first version of The Maltese Falcon was made in 1931, and while being a sufficient movie, the acting is a little over the top and exaggerated. Continuity errors abound, and too much time is spent reading for a talkie. To top things off, Ricardo Cortez’s portrayal of Sam Spade is a bit too happy, and ends up being borderline goofy. Of course, the 1936 adaptation, Satan Met a Lady goes even further toward making the plot so farcical that one wonders why anyone should even care.

And yet, in 1941, The Maltese Falcon finally got the treatment it deserved. Not only was it nominated for Best Picture, but Best Screenplay as well; which just shows how excellent the plot could be in the right hands. In fact, the America’s Film Institute has ranked it as high as #23 on their list of Top 100 films. Mystery is an interesting motivator, and nothing is more mysterious than the Maltese Falcon, a statue that went missing and now every low-life and their brother wants to get their hands on the avian statuette. Murders and twists abound as Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) tries to piece everything together while also trying to make sure that the Maltese Falcon doesn’t get into the wrong hands. After all, it is the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 remakes that outdo their originals

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9 responses to “#017. Better Remakes

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