Thursday, June 23, 2011

Remake-itis! The Song Remains the... Very Similar

Wow, we're in store for another bout of remake-itis, along with a special guest technological remake. Sometimes, I wish I didn't have such a track record of writing (and once playing devil's advocate) about this very topic. Drink something if you need to, gird yourself, and dive right in with me. I'll make this painless and quick (for a change).

First, something a little different: "The Lion King" will be re-released in theaters this September, with a 3-D conversion. Thanks to tAVC, as usual/often, for the news. Running for two weeks, it's part of what I'll call "the circle of profits," a promo for a Blu-Ray DVD release.

I didn't really think that "TLK" was that big of a deal. Other animated films - ones without racist and homophobic overtones - seem more likely to warrant a bigtime re-release. I guess today, any anniversary is a good excuse for a re-release. Or we can look back at Cameron's choice to release "Titanic" in 3-D. I'd forgotten about that, honestly. Circle of profits, indeed...

More and more, whoever said, "everything old is new again," must've been a Tinseltown exec. Why? Because we're looking at a remake of "Carrie."

Anyone familiar with De Palma's 1976 take on Stephen King's horror story knows: the original worked for its time, blessed by its deep cast and direction. It's certainly not "classic horror," I'd say. It's clumsy fluff - it's certainly no "Hotel Rwanda" - but it's really fun clumsy fluff.

There's a lot of fun to be had with a story about a misunderstood, awkward young girl with a frightful, worst-case-abusive-Christian mother and some really mean classmates. William Katt, Amy Irving, Sissy Spacek, and John Travolta added a lot of character to this b-movie.

Then, there was a horrid 1999 sequel, "The Rage: Carrie 2." Clocking in at 23 years too late, it was a waste of time in every possible way. No fun horror or tension for horror fans, no good acting/direction/cinematography for film lovers, no "exploration of the 'Carrie' mythos" for... someone, I guess. "C2" was just crass jokes, flesh-less, lazy attempts at titillation, and a desperate attempt to cash in on a popular "property."

This only feels like horror: Warren Beatty claims he will do something with the long-abandoned "Dick Tracy" franchise. I think the almost two-decade gap means it'll be a remake, and the fact that the first one was kind of bland and awful means it'll be a lousy remake. Beatty may have surprised a lot of people with "Bullworth," but he was already coating the camera lens in vaseline and wire mesh 20 years ago...

And now, the remake-itis powerhouse: 7 "Frankenstein" projects are under way. One is Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie," which in a truly meta-moment is a remake of itself! A second is based on a comic book retelling, and yet another is a post-modern take that puts the doctor together with the husband of Mary Shelley (she wrote the original story).

I can't really say I have high hopes for the way that Hollywood continues to plunder the same well-known material - public domain material, at that.

UPDATE: As of today, announced by tAVC in the last hour, you can make that 8 Frankenstein projects.

Our final, technological remake is a call-back in at least two ways: remember two weeks ago, when I discussed the rocking-and-bucking d-box theater seat? No? Then you suck, but I digress - I briefly compared the seat technology, in one snarky sentence, to smell-o-vision...

So guess what?

Yes, scientists are apparently hard at work to make a new tv and cell phone (?!) smell-o-vision technology. The AV Club told me, so it must be true that Samsung is working with UC San Diego to ensure that execs can get all up in my other senses.

I sort of understand the impulse - stupid gimmicks open up new lines of revenue, and you can charge more for them, too. I also understand another part of this idea - smell is the sense most closely tied to memory, so you have an ability not only to make people reflect on their own smell-memories, but to start making strong memory associations right there in your captive audience.

Of course, I have a personal "gut feeling" that audiences may be subjected to the equivalent of "subliminal smells." Y'know, just a little whiff that's likely to make you want to go to outback steakhouse or something. You don't think tv studios and cell companies would manipulate you like that?

Another alternative is special use of smell to sell merchandise. It's the only way they can take those in-movie product placement scenes go farther than they've already gone. Now, when futuristic cop Will Smith talks dreamily about his "new retro-2012 Nike Pepcid AC Streetwalkers," you'll get a little mist of "leather smell" sprayed right into your face!

Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? No? Me neither. Yet with the right wires, Paramount might make me believe that Elizabeth Shue is a chemist who cracked cold fusion, and hides the formula in her bra, but who doesn't actually smell like a busty female chemist probably smells (sweat, cheetos, rubbing alcohol)...

I'd also like to ask everyone to consider whether or not you'd even want to be subjected to smell-o-vision. I mean, do I want to know what "Trainspotting" smells like? NOPE! How about Rosie O'Donnell, those Jackass stunt shows on MTV, or even "Jaws?" No, no, and no. My expectations for this scientific achievement could not possibly be any lower...

UPDATE: Robert Rodriguez reports that his 3rd unnecessary sequel to the fun "Spy Kids" will be in aroma-scope, with scratch-n-sniff cards to be used during 8 specific movie moments. Since Rodriguez seems to be half-genius/half-idiot, I think I'll keep my hopes rather low...

Is there an actual computer that devises these remakes? Or would a computer built to come up with these projects actually make better decisions? You tell me...

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