I’ve spent a good chunk of my morning talking about Game of Thrones, and now Lord of the Rings, and it got me thinking why I hate remakes of old movies so much. Yeah, I know, strange thought process, but here goes.
I read Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was 10. Yes, back then it was a slog, but every time I have read it since (which is about once a year), I still learn new things or see things differently. Naturally, when the movies came out (and I was 30 when Fellowship of the Ring aired in theatres), I had to see them on opening day. I didn’t dress up as an elf or a hobbit (or any other character for that matter), but I did want to punch the steroid junkie behind me at the end of Fellowship, when he turned to his too-smart-for-him-and-deceptively-geeky-but-gorgeous girlfriend and said, “Dumbest ending ever. What the fuck happens to the ring the little guy has?”
Anyway, it got me thinking about how well cast the movie was. With few exceptions, I cannot think of anyone else who would have done better in the role they were chosen for – and this includes the actors and actresses I hadn’t heard of before the movie aired. The most obvious one, of course, is Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. The list of actors considered, and in some cases offered the role, is quite extensive and ranges from Academy-celebrated: Daniel Day Lewis; to action star with limited emotional range: Keanu Reeves. In between we find Russell Crowe and Nicholas Cage, who both turned it down due to the 3 year filming commitment. Stuart Townsend was actually in New Zealand training for the film before Peter Jackson, the Director, decided he looked too young to play the part of the 87 year old Ranger from the North. Enter Mortensen who only did it because LOTR was his son’s favourite book. And the thought of any of the other actors playing that role doesn’t seem right to me, for one reason or another. While it is a fantasy and, primarily an action role, there is enough humanity in the role that would have seemed amiss had Cage or Reeves done it. If the Academy Awards could take Oscars back, Cage would surely have to turn his in as he’s been found out. But I digress.
When they re-made Psycho a few years ago and cast Vince Vaughan in the lead role I knew I wasn’t going to waste my money seeing the film in the theatre. Granted, I wouldn’t have seen it in a theatre no matter who they cast. Why? Whey re-make Psycho when the original is so damn good? Hollywood isn’t that hard up for money, are they? Okay, we seem to be short of new ideas (like Mona Lisa Smile isn’t Dead Poets Society with girls), but at least pick a shit movie to try and improve on! Psycho was not a shit movie. Hitchcock was a genius, Anthony Perkins was brilliant, and any remake was just a stupid idea from the start. It’s not like they could claim a “re-imagining” like they do with the Spiderman, Superman, and Batman franchises (thus enabling them to cast differently leads all the time). They didn’t re-imagine Psycho – they shot it shot for shot! You can tell how much this bugs me, can’t you?
And with news that remakes of Top Gun, Ghostbusters, and even the Goonies (for God’s sake NO!!!) have been floated around Tinsel Town my far too young to have a heart attack heart can’t take it. Ghostbusters, for the record, is meant to be an all-girl vehicle. I know some funny women, and I think it’s great that Hollywood doesn’t just want them to play the grieving widow, the sex starved teenager who ends up getting killed moments after she puts her bra back on, or the vulnerable depends on a man type, but not for a remake of Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters managed to get the best out of, and see the best of, Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, and the late Harold Ramis. Akroyd hasn’t been that funny since. Murray is starting to remember what funny looks like.
But what do I know?