Thursday, 16 April 2009

Remake It What It Is

If there's one thing across the board in the entertainment industry I cannot stand, it's remakes. It comes from my own personal desire for originality as a writer, and remakes are the absolute bane of originality (well, that and reality shows, which I also hate but are just a TV-based phenomena at least).

I don't really hate all remakes, just the ones that are unnecessary. For example, I embraced the remake of The Amityville Horror because the original was only "okay" to start with. Unfortunately that turned out to be even worse, but I accepted it as a valid basis for a remake. Friday the 13th is another that wasn't particularly good to start with. Then there are the ones that actually turned out very well, like The Fly or The Thing - although we haven't had any of them for decades. King Kong is the only recent one I can think of.

The likes of The Omen, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Psycho, and - eek - The Wicker Man, are unnecessary as the originals are still great.

(No America! Naughty America, put that down right now!)

I also don't like the fact that remakes invariably fit into two categories - the ones that stick too close to the superior originals and make the whole thing seem pointless (The Omen, Psycho) and the ones where they change so much you wonder why they kept the name in the first place (The Day The Earth Stood Still).

America is at the forefront of this practice. When they remake their own films I get cross and slap my head at the unoriginality of Hollywood, but it's when they remake other country's films and TV programs just to make them American that I get really angry. It's bad enough that foreign films, no matter how great, seem to scare Those People In Charge Of The USA. Quarantine was an almost identical remake of [REC], just without subtitles. What's the point? But when British stuff, which is already in English, starts getting remade, then I write angry blog posts.

(You don't know how close the world got to this)

Most of them get cancelled, thankfully. Red Dwarf, Coupling, Life On Mars, Spaced, even Doctor Who (see the Paul McGann movie for reasons why) were planned. The first three were pretty much identical apart from being 'Americanised', raising more questions about the point in doing it. Coupling I loved, because the reason it got cancelled was because they kept the scripts the same and the US press attacked it for having more discussions about sex than any US show. The Office is the only one I don't mind, as that was one of the simplest ideas ever made (even the title was unoriginal).

What makes it even more interesting is that when they leave these things alone, American audiences love them. Red Dwarf, Spaced, Coupling and Doctor Who are really, really popular in the US. Same goes for films - Shaun of the Dead for instance. They couldn't care less that the cast aren't American. Clearly the US public aren't as xenophobic as those in charge make it seem.

Which brings me on to game remakes. I don't really mind them as much, as most are older games that don't really have a story. Prince of Persia, Bionic Commando, Doom 3 etc are more making a new game. Chronicles of Riddick: Assault On Dark Athena is less remake, more 2-Disc Remastered Special Edition.

In fact, the only proper, straight gaming remake I can think of is Tomb Raider Anniversary. This one illustrates the dearth of ideas for Lara Croft right now, with the poor sales of Underworld showing how bored everyone is with the character. I did buy it, but only because it was £3 at Zaavi.

Gaming remakes don't bother me, in other words. On the other hand, if Eidos Montreal are remaking Thief: The Dark Project instead of making a new game in the series there'll be hell to pay.

- Chris Capel


  1. Coupling was absolute fucking bullshit

  2. Coupling had Jeff. He liked women ears: