Remakes, sequels, resurrections; they’re everywhere. Re-boots of Jurassic Park, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , Mad Max and of course- Star Wars are all due to arrive in a cinema near you in 2015 with Scarface and Dad’s Army following close behind. Are film makers suffering through a famine of originality? Is this trend just pleasant nostalgia? Or is it financially motivated?
Turning a legendary film series into an ageing cash cow seems like a high price to pay to prolong Star Wars’ life on the big screen.
As excited as die-hard fans are for Star Wars Episode VII- The Force Awakens, there is also a murmuring dis-content amongst those who feel that this new outing is a step too far. There’s nothing wrong with quitting while you’re ahead after all and turning a legendary film series into an ageing cash cow seems like a high price to pay to prolong Star Wars’ life on the big screen. While Jurassic Park has less of a reputation to tarnish with its new instalment Jurassic World it still poses the same question- why not produce a successful series of films and leave it at that? Dragging the series out of the archives fourteen years after the release of Jurassic Park III seems highly questionable and adds impetus to the argument that this barrage of sequels and re-boots is financially motivated. Making another instalment of a tried and tested film with an established fan-base is, after all, much less risky than a brand new venture.
Brian De Palma’s Scarface was already a remake of the 1932 film of the same name.
Arguably though, in the case of many of these titles, a re-imagining is no bad thing. Notably Brian De Palma’s Scarface was already a remake of the 1932 film of the same name and has gone down as a classic, while the original did not. Obviously this isn’t likely to be the case in regard to Star Wars Episode VII or Jurassic World, but Mad Max Fury Road looks like it could be an effective, gripping modernisation of an original that despite being very enjoyable and unique, is now extremely dated. The inclusion of Tom Hardy alone shows the films intent and the trailer (available below,) boasts an epic, immersive and fittingly brutal world. Mad Max Fury Road looks set to be as good a gun-toting high octane thrill ride as its post-apocalyptic premise encourages it to be, even displaying the potential to outshine the original. That is surely how the prospect of a re-make should feel.
Equally, Guy Ritchie’s re-boot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. looks like it will be another fantastically stylised romp. Further abandoning his London gangster staple and still riding the wave of Sherlock Holmes success the film still seems to carry many of the hallmarks of his signature directorial style and could be an impressive cocktail of action, laughs and thrills. Given his impressive track record- (including, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Sherlock Holmes,) this will definitely be a re-boot to be seen. The fact that much of the films target audience won’t have seen the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series also implies this is a re-make not undertaken on the basis of a minimised financial risk and hence, crucially, this is a re-make being made for the right reasons.
Importantly this impending barrage of remakes does look like it will deliver some gems in the form of Mad Max Fury Road, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and even Dads Army. Casting Bill Nighy as Sergeant Wilson could well be a masterstroke and the inclusion of Sir Michael Gambon strengthens the films prospects no end- (though the fact he’s playing Godfrey, a character without a large role in the original series, is puzzling). The question of originality is still a pertinent one though. Why are film makers having to dredge up old story lines, characters and ideas? And to what extent is the absence of original material a financially motivated, risk minimising decision on the behalf of film studios?
By George Storr