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I was hit with a double-whammy of "say it ain't so!" news this morning: two of my favorite films from decades past — The NeverEnding Story (1984) and Total Recall (1990) — are going to be remade. Why, God, why???
I had finally calmed down after suffering several nightmares about the Footloose and The Karate Kid remakes… and now this? It's like The Powers That Be in Hollywood want to torture Gen Xers or something.
Truth be told, I feel partially responsible for the NeverEnding Story part of this travesty and am cursing myself for putting the idea for an updated take on this children's fantasy film out into the blogosphere back in October. However, I concluded in that post that "I would just end up decrying a new NeverEnding Story
in addition to probably losing sleep over it. In my heart, I believe
that there is only one Bastian, one Atreyu and one Childlike Empress,
and they are all still living in the original film's version of
Apparently fellow thirtysomething Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't share my concerns. His production company, Appian Way, is said to be in talks with Warner Brothers about the project.
As for Total Recall, I believe that the original — a sci-fi action film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick about memory implantation — was awesome enough when it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone nearly twenty years ago. I don't get the point of redoing all of these movies that were fine just the way they were. Oh wait — yeah I do — the point is to take the easy way out: instead of creating something new and original, those in the film industry can simply churn out updates of past successes, rake in the money, and call it a day.
The counterpoint to that argument, of course, is that a lot of moviegoers — especially those not old enough to remember or even know about some of these great movies of yore — would never get to experience the joy of these stories if it weren't for remakes. And particularly for children's films… even if a kid growing up today saw The NeverEnding Story, he might not be into it because of its dated special effects.
While I definitely understand that take on things, at the same time I think it's the moviegoing public-at-large's responsibility to keep their old favorites in circulation throughout the years. That's how good music lives on, right? And from what I know of kids, they're not exactly that judgmental when it comes to whiz-bang technology in their entertainment. If they were, how could the likes of Barney or Dora the Explorer ever have been successful?
I admit that Footloose and some of the other films mentioned in this post aren't up there with, say, Casablanca or Citizen Kane, but they are still good movies that were enjoyed by millions of people. So I'm not sure where the line should be drawn when it comes to giving these films the "do over" treatment. What are the criteria that should determine whether or not a film remake should be applauded? Or are all remakes inherently bad?
Chime in below… in the meantime I will be starting up the petition to Save Falkor.