Like it or not, eventually Hollywood’s going to remake everything, so we might as well roll with it.
Soylent Green belongs to that cache of sci-fi films which popularized concepts that went on to outlive the films themselves, placing it alongside the likes of Planet of the Apes, The Stepford Wives, The Omega Man, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (many of which are based on books or other films themselves). All of those other films have been remade time and time again, sensibly enough, because people identify with their gimmicks (i.e., “Earth run by apes,” “Last man alive on Earth”) rather than the original films themselves. So, it’s pretty surprising that we haven’t had a Soylent Green remake; the film, remembered primarily for the line, “Soylent Green is people!”, taps into perennial concerns regarding over-population and dehumanization, as well as the prevailing question, “Just what the f–k is in this omelet, anyway?”
Twilight Zone: The Movie
An anthology that consisted either of new takes on original Twilight Zone episodes, or original creations emanating from the show’s creepy, thoughtful sci-fi mold, sounds like a can’t-miss success; after all, The Twilight Zone is a property that still resonates with modern audiences (unlike, for example, Land of the Lost or Dark Shadows). It’s kind of shocking that 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie wasn’t more successful, especially since it boasted segments from Steven Spielberg and an at-his-peak John Landis (even more shockingly, they owned the film’s lesser sequences; both were upstaged by genre directors Joe Dante and George Miller). A focus on storytelling over special effects, as per the tradition of the series, could make for a classic, and there are plenty of talented directors working in the sci-fi field nowadays (Rian Johnson, Duncan Jones, etc.). Maybe we could even have Limp Bizkit jazz up the iconic theme song like they did for Mission Impossible II (just kidding, maybe).
Super Mario Bros.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we could probably top the original. Some facts:
- 1993’s Super Mario Bros. has a 3.8 rating on IMDB and a 13% Approval Rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- It made $21 million dollars, yet cost $48 million to make.
- Bob Hoskins, who, for some bizarre reason, played Mario, told The Guardian: “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a f–kin’ nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! Fuckin’ nightmare. Fuckin’ idiots.”
- Dennis Hopper, who starred as King Koopa, told The A.V. Club: “It was a nightmare, very honestly, that movie. It was a husband-and-wife directing team who were both control freaks and wouldn’t talk before they made decisions. Anyway, I was supposed to go down there for five weeks, and I was there for 17. It was so over budget.” Anything that qualified as a “nightmare” in the dark mind of Dennis Hopper qualifies as suitably nightmarish to me.
But I mean, how do you screw up a Super Mario Bros. movie??? How hard can it be? We’ve gotten another Judge Dredd movie and we still don’t have a definitive Super Mario Bros.? Let’s get on this.
Okay, so this would be less of a remake and more of a mulligan.
Last Action Hero
Okay, so the original sucked pretty hard – talking computer-animated cats, fart jokes, terrible child actors, masturbatory in-jokes, and on and on and on. But if you’ve read the fantastic piece Empire Magazine ran on the film last year, you know it originated from a script titled Extremely Violent that was written by two action-movie lovers looking to deconstruct and mock the bloated action scene of the time. Unfortunately, due to poor management on the part of Warner Brothers et al., the film wound up becoming a symptom of the very ailment it set out to diagnosis. Yet, elements of a funnier, edgier film are still vaguely discernible underneath all of the rampant idiocy, tone-deaf direction, and horrible editing. Regardless, a remake of this action/comedy/fantasy could be a lot of fun, if the filmmakers kept the meta, sardonic spirit of the original script.
Trading Places, commonly compared to Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, starred Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as symbols of urban poverty and lavish wealth, respectively, who wind up getting their roles reversed; the well-received comedy explored the rift between haves and have-nots in Reaganite America, as well as obvious racial themes. How is this not being remade with some kind of forced, hackneyed Occupy Wall Street tie-in already?
A disgruntled, aimless vet unfairly persecuted by a small-town, power-crazed sheriff? I think we could do this one again, easily. But, just to be clear: I do not want Sylvester Stallone merely rebooting the Rambo franchise to return in the starring role. Please, Sly. You’re 66-years-old and starting to look like a claymation figure under a really bright light.
The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend, a 1945 Billy Wilder flick, is a powerful film that depicts an alcoholic repeatedly reaching rock bottom during a disastrous weekend binge. Based loosely on my junior year of college, The Lost Weekend is surprisingly frank in its depiction of a man continually humiliating himself and hurting the people who love him most. Yet, it still can’t help feeling dated 60 years later, due in part to the censorship and timidity of Hollywood’s “Golden Age.” A remake could deliver on punches that the original pulled, and possibly even feature a scene where the lead actor accidentally drunk texts his mom, eats two Chipotle burritos, and then pukes in a washing machine. Just saying, it’s not impossible. It, uh, happened to a friend of mine.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Remaking this certified classic might seem blasphemous to some, but I’d be interested in checking out a new take on the story from a talented director and cast. While there’s no shortage of movies that touch vaguely on the inherent homoeroticism of male friendship (every buddy cop movie, every Judd Apatow movie, The Master, etc.), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid could make a great vehicle for a charming duo of lead actors attempting to fill the shoes of Paul Newman and Robert Redford (a younger Clooney and Pitt would’ve been perfect). Is it too late to reunite the on-screen duo of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck?
A film centered on the hostility between urbanites and country folk, as well as on modern man’s separation from nature, is even more pertinent to American discourse than it was in 1972. Plus, we’re gonna need more films in the Violent Sodomy genre if we ever want it to be properly recognized by the Academy.
I’m a pretty big fan of the original Poltergeist, at least in part because it put food on the table for the one and only Craig T. Nelson. But it seems to me that the original, while appreciated, is not considered gospel the way 70/80s horror classics like The Exorcist or The Shining are, and could therefore be remade without seeming overly egregious or temerarious. All I ask is that it not be turned into another freaking “found footage” film like Paranormal Activity or its ilk.
I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’d be down for another movie where a volcano erupts on Los Angeles, provided that the special effects didn’t look like a PlayStation 1 cut-scene again.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Am I the only one who was perversely interested in that live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptation that Michael Bay was attached to for a while? I am? Okay, then. Thought so. I knew it was going to be terrible, yet I was oddly drawn to it, filled with equal parts sadomasochism and nostalgia…it’s probably for the best that this thing got canned.
Much like with Super Mario Bros., we need a well-made, wildly entertaining Street Fighter adaptation, and we need it 19 years ago. While 1994’s Street Fighter compares favorably to Super Mario Bros., much like stubbing your toe compares favorably to being mauled by a bear, there is still a lot of room for improvement; while Jean-Claude Van Damme’s version is entertainingly hokey, there’s no reason that a Street Fighter adaptation couldn’t take itself a little more seriously. Well, okay, maybe not if it has Dhalsim in it, the generic Indian character with the power of elasticity. Or Blanka, the giant green mutated freak with orange hair and a taste for human flesh. Or Zangief, the monosyllabic Russian with steroid muscles and a mohawk… On second thought, let’s all just bow down to the awesomeness of the original instead.
Targets, the fantastic 1968 debut from wunderkind Peter Bogdanovich, starred a fantastic Boris Karloff as a retiring horror star who’s realized that his movies are woefully tame in a society completely desensitized to murder and violence. That storyline contrasts and eventually converges with a disturbing shooting spree conducted by a seemingly mild-mannered insurance agent; the climax of the film involves a shootout at a drive-in movie theater; in essence, the audience needs to be literally shot at from the screen to be truly engaged. This film would obviously be tackling a very sensitive issue in the wake of the shootings this past summer during a The Dark Knight Rises screening in Aurora, Colorado. The filmmakers would need to be very cognizant of that, but I’m a big believer in working through challenging, delicate issues via art (even populist art), rather than shying away from them or ignoring them. With the right attitude, a remake of Targets could be an impactful, probing, and timely, while simultaneously correcting some of the poor editing and dated elements of the original.
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
Oh wait, Avatar already stole this ish.