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What's Old is New Again - & Again & Again...
by Mike Thomas

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Remakes-uh! What are they Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Remakes-uh! What are they Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. And in Science Fiction Cinema, flattery abounds. In spades. In buckets. In fifty-five gallon drums. It seems that once a successful sci-fi movie is made, it's imitated by every other studio. "Scarier than ALIEN" "More exciting than INDIANA JONES" "The next STAR WARS," and ad Infinatum. It's enough to have BACK to the FUTURE I, II, & III, INDIANA JONES and (pick one), and STAR WARS I, II, III, IV, V, & VI, but producers and directors have gone back and re-did classic sci-fi movies.

It is not a practice unique to sci-fi, unfortunately. But have you ever seen a remake of GONE with the WIND, or The EXORCIST? No! For some reason, producers think that science fiction films can be put in a photocopier and dumped on the public whenever they need a cash fix. Here are just a few examples. We have for your amusement a collage of films. Play "How many of these movies have been remade? The winner gets a prize:

ONE MILLION B.C. (1940) and again, with Raquel Welch (1966).

MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949) and again, with Bill Paxton and Charlize Theron (1998).

The DAY The EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and again with Kenau Reeves (2008).

The THING From ANOTHER WORLD (1951) and again with Kurt Russell and soon-to-be #3 in 2011.

KING KONG (1933) and again by Jessica Lange (1976), and AGAIN by Peter Jackson (2005).

The WAR of The WORLDS (1952) and again - released almost simultaneously in the same year - with Tom Cruise and C. Thomas Howell (2005).

STAR WARS IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VI, V, VI - Aw - Forget it!

STAR WARS IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VI, V, VI - Aw - Forget it!
(1954) and again with - well, actually there were 15 other remakes, including the Lorenzo Lamas' 30,000 LEAGUES UNDER The SEA (2007).

INVASION of the BODY SNATCHERS (1956) and again with Donald Sutherland, with Meg Tilly in 1993, and with Nicole Kidman in 2007. I think for the time being, no more remakes are being planned.

JOURNEY to the CENTER of the EARTH (1959) and again with Brendan Fraser. There are at least ten more versions of this movie, including six television versions, a Direct-to-Video version, and a syndicated television series.

The BLOB (1958) and again with Scream Queen Shawnee Smith in her first featured performance.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) though not exactly a remake, but Mars Attacks! (1996) uses the same model of flying saucer. The flattery continues.

Filmmakers have actually gone back and re-did their own work. John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Wes Craven have all gone back and re-did previous works. Cecille B. DeMille made The TEN COMMANDMENTS in 1923, then again, giving it the full Hollywood, Technicolor treatment in 1954. Mel Brooks took his first work and made an industry of it. The Producers, under Brook's direction, was turned into a Broadway production, then took the musical and turned it into a movie! But the grand Prize goes to George Lucas, who took the entire first STAR WARS trilogy and re-made it. And this just in - George Lucas is once again releasing his entire STAR WARS saga
Where are the CITIZEN KANES?

Where are the CITIZEN KANES?
- this time in 3-D!
. Cecille I can forgive to a point - his original work was a silent film, and he lived long enough to realize in again in full Technicolor. But Georgie - Georgie did his remakes IN OUR GENERATION!.

In a way, the remake is not a Hollywood original. Broadway has been doing remakes from its very beginnings. Theatergoers will pay the big bucks to see their favorite performer in an established show. Or will go to a show that they were too young to see when it was originally on Broadway. Theatergoers would pay to see "Oklahoma!" or "Cabaret" just for the live theatre experience. But on closer inspection, a live Broadway performance is lightning in a bottle. There is no recording of the original "Annie Get Your Gun," or "Starlight Express." And if there are Hollywood versions of Broadway shows, the Committee Mill (remember them?) often perverts the original stage show into something resembling what Divine ate at the end of the movie PINK FLAMINGOS. Movies are forever and forever young. If you wanted to see the original 1929 METROPOLIS, you need just to go to your local video store.

Where will the new science fiction movies come from? The push to comic books is an easy, lazy fix in all ways: you already have a visual, you don't have to establish a character, the premise has already been fleshed out, and some of these characters have over 70 years of backstory! Talk about photocopying! And even then, they can't get it right - introducing the producer's girlfrien - I mean, a new character into the mythology, re-thinking a character's backstory (Dr. Doom as a human dynamo????), and any other "creative" touches that further take the fan out of the story.

Or just do a re-boot.


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Science Fiction, Double Feature
Every other Sunday

This column will explore my taste in film. I watch all kinds of movies - all kinds - but likes science fiction/fantasy - action, animated, funny, even stupid. He will speak of his experience and his encounters with science fiction and the way it colors his - and our - everyday life.

Other Columns
Other columns by Mike Thomas:

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Joker Smackdown

Kids in Peril

Twenty Questions with Michael Bonomo

Twenty Questions with Scott Wheeler

All Columns

Mike Thomas
Mike Thomas was introduced to science fiction when he first watched 2001 - A SPACE ODYSSEY, and was hooked ever since. But he doesn't just watch the gee-whiz, gollee-gee special effects. He watches the costumes quirks, evaluates the musical scores, even identifies favorite actors of directors. He collected comic book, but has moved on to weapons: he currently owns the Mj?llnir - the Hammer of Thor, Electra's Ninja Sai's, Mace Windu's Light Saber, and a couple of Batarangs.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Mike Thomas by clicking here.

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