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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

I’m back. Did you miss me? Judging from the viewership numbers, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the answer is no.

I’m back.  Did you miss me?  Judging from the viewership numbers, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the answer is no.  By my calculations, there are 3 major releases on the docket for this weekend.  One is a remake, another is a prequel to a remake and the third has gone bird watching.  Before we dive in, I want to write down a few thoughts, so bear with me for a second.

It seems like with every new month, there is a remake being unleashed somewhere in theaters.  I have heard the cries of how this just shows the lack of creativity there is left in Hollywood.  I, for one, am not completely against the idea of a remake.  It has to fall within certain guidelines, however.  For one, it can’t be made just for the money (although almost all movies fall into this category).  There has to be either something wrong or missing from the original film that a new set of eyes can help enlighten the masses.  The new filmmaker needs to show a passion for the original but is not a slave to it.  There is no reason to make a shot for shot remake (as found out through Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho”) even if the original is not readily available.  They need to bring their own ideas to the previously established world.

A good example of both the good and the bad kind of remake (at least to this humble blogger) can be shown in one movie, “Rob Zombie’s Halloween.”  The first half of the movie shows Michael Myers as a kid growing up in a dysfunctional (that is putting it mildly) household and the viewer can see the madness that builds up within him.  I’m not one to usually like an unnecessary back story in my villains (“Hannibal Rising” was putrid and ruined Hannibal Lecter) but Michael’s eventually “awakening” and subsequent imprisonment in the mental hospital I found quite compelling.  I wanted to stay within that realm and learn more about relationship with his mother and with Dr. Loomis, his psychiatrist who would end up losing all hope in helping the kid, wanting him to be locked up for the rest of his life.  The forward momentum established early was forever shattered once it delved into the actual remake portion in the second half.  The promise of Zombie keeping his own vision of the world seemed to go away as it would appear he was too scared to go too far from the original.  He would take shots from the original and try to put his own spin on it, but the whole time I ended up thinking of how John Carpenter (the director of the original) did it a lot better.  Laurie Strode, the scream queen icon as portrayed with a quiet strength by Jaime Lee Curtis, was replaced by a shrilling and annoying Scout-Taylor Compton.  I wanted to see her and her friends end up on the wrong side of Michael.  That is not the case in the original.  For me, the first half represented something new and exciting.  The second half was old, trite and in the end, worthless.

I rambled on a little too long and have gotten away from what this column is mostly about…The New Releases.  Needless to say, my little rant on remakes goes nicely with the first film on my list.  As usual, in the end, I will give a brief interest level rating.  These are my own opinions, reflecting my preferences.  Yours could be (sometimes should be) a lot different.  First up we have…

FOOTLOOSE

The classic Kevin Bacon vehicle has been remade for a new audience.  The town that banned dancing is shaken up by the arrival of Ren McCormack, whose rebellious nature slowly turns it around.  Kenny Wormald (Footloose) and Dennis Quaid (Jaws 3) take over for Bacon and John Lithgow in this Craig Brewer directed film.  I’ve watched the trailer a few times and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have no idea why this even exists.  The original is readily available on DVD and this doesn’t look like it deviates much from it.  I will give it the benefit of the doubt in my rating because I have loved Craig Brewer’s previous films (Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan).  Still the most interest I can muster is a lethargic 2 Kenny Loggins out of 5.  Footloose is rated PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol abuse, sexual content, violence and language.

THE THING

The prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter remake of 1951’s “The Thing From Another World” takes us to the Norwegian Antarctic research facility briefly seen before, where the Thing was first discovered.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Then Came Jones) and her scientist buddies try to remain human as an alien life form slowly devours and eventually imitates the group.  Given it’s a prequel where we have already seen the remains of the camp; I’m going to venture to say, it’s not going to end well.  I’m a big fan of Carpenter’s take on the short story “Who Goes There?” so I’m a little pumped to see this.  It may end up being disappointing, but I’ll still be in line on Friday.  I’m giving it 4 Kurt Russells out of 5.  The Thing is rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.

THE BIG YEAR

Steve Martin (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) and Jack Black (Waterworld) team up to take on Owen Wilson (Heat Vision and Jack) in a competition to spot the rarest of birds of North America in this David Frankel (Miami Rhapsody) directed flick.  If the trailer is supposed to show the funniest parts in an attempt lure theater goers to see it, then I cringe for this.  I did not laugh, chuckle or even smile once during the two and a half minutes I gave to it.  Who knows?  It could also be the rare occasion where they actually hold everything back from the trailer and it’s a laugh riot.  I’ll have to take word of mouth from this one as it is not on my radar.  This tweets a 1 California Clapper Rail out of 5.  The Big Year is rated PG for language and some sensuality.

Another Now Playing is in the record books.  What are some of your thoughts on remakes?  Comment below if you wish.  In the meantime, I’ll write at you next time on Now Playing.

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