Posts Tagged ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’

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Which SF classics need to be remade?

February 11, 2009

This news about the “Day of the Triffids” remake has got me thinking about the issue of remakes in general. There seems to be a lot of the everything-old-is-new-again bug going around. Recently, Hollywood inflicted a cinematic shitfest of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” against audiences. Not too long ago “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was redone (in 3D), and before that, “I am Legend”, and, of course, “Lord of the Rings” commanded the box office at the beginning of the decade, and the list goes on. Meanwhile, a re-imagined “Star Trek” is about to hit the screens, a new take on “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” is in development, the Harry Potter series continues, there’s talk of something based on “Rendezvous with Rama”, and so on and so forth – and that’s not even including the recent rash of inspired-by’s/related-to’s cropping up, like Straczynski’s follow-up to “Forbidden Planet” or the prequel to “The Thing”.

Putting aside the question of whether Hollywood ought to be doing remakes or adaptations in the first place rather than something original, or whether it’s capable of doing a remake without screwing it up (sometimes, like in the case of BSG or Jackson’s “King Kong” it does work out), I got to wondering which SF classics (from movies, TV or books) need to be remade or adapted for the screen?

The first that comes to mind is HG Wells’ “The Time Machine”. More than just a great adventure story, it raises questions about the consequences of social/labour class divisions as well as sexual politics. The novel has been adapted several times, with George Pal’s 1960 version being the best, in my opinion. But I think it’s time for a newer version, using the best of modern photo-real special effects – the kind of remake that the 2002 version should have been, that wasn’t because Simon Wells and his gang messed up the story.

I think it’s also time for Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” to get another adaptation. The 1980 mini-series was okay, but again, with modern visual effects I think an updated version would look so much better. To do it justice though, they’d have to tackle it again as a TV mini-series or, even better, a full season production.

So what classic SF book, movie or TV series do you think needs a remake?

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The top 10 things we’re looking forward to in 2009 – bloginhood

January 8, 2009

Last week was about looking back fondly on the old year, this week’s list is about anticipating the new. And there’s so much to look forward to that we each had to do our own list!

Bloginhood’s Top 10 Anticipated for 2009:

10) Star Trek XI
Part of me’s looking forward to seeing what Abrams is going to do with the franchise, but I’m pretty uneasy about it being so warped that it won’t resemble Trek anymore. While reimagining works sometimes, as in the case of BSG, other times, well, you get “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, which was a complete waste of time and money. I’m trying to stay positive.

9) Caprica
Here’s another one where I’m a little trepiditious despite being interested. Some of the early comments about the show being a sort of “Dallas” in the 12 Colonies (or, at least on one of them) soured me on the show a little – I kept getting visions of a season finale cliffhanger of “Who Shot Adama?!” On the other hand, BSG turned out to be such a great show, I’m really hoping this one flies too.

8 ) Fanboys
The first time I read the buzz on this flick I was dead set on seeing it. As the months dragged on though, and the release date kept getting pushed back, and word leaked about story changes and various and sundry putting their hands into the production, I grew more disappointed. But I’m still hoping that there will be enough of a good story in there that the Force will be strong with this movie (or, at least tolerably present) when it’s released next month (unless it gets delayed again).

7) More episodes of Terminator – The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I was surprised how much I’ve enjoyed this show since its debut. Despite the repetitive stalk and shoot Terminator elements of the plot and the somewhat predictable relationship developments, the story has, for the most part, remained consistently entertaining. Not a perfect show by any means, but certainly worth making time to watch. I’m interested to see how Summer Glau’s little killing machine continues to evolve toward humanity in the coming episodes.

6) More episodes of Reaper
Another show that, despite the predictable (and unoriginal) general premise of a guy who has to hunt supernatural baddies for the devil, has turned out to be really, really good. The writers have done a nice job of bringing Sam and Andi’s relationship to fruition without stretching out the “will they or won’t they” too long, as well as teasing the nature of the bargain with the devil, the surprise with Sam’s parents, and, of course, allowing Sock (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sock is Jay and Silent Bob’s secret love child) to be consistently hilarious and steal scenes without remorse. I got the first season collection on DVD for Christmas and we spent a few days rewatching it, and it’s still as funny as the first time.

5) Anticipation – the 67th Worldcon
Montreal’s going to be a lot of fun this summer. I’ve had my ticket for a while now and I’m in the middle of giving some thought to how I’m going to vote for the Auroras and the Hugos. Initially, I’ll admit I had worries of stumbling along in broken highschool French like the Tick when he was turned into a two-headed blue bird, but then I remembered it’s Montreal, and they’re cool enough to speak to geeks in any language.

4) Watchmen
I haven’t read the graphic novel – yet (it’s sitting in my in-box), but I’m familiar with the premise and it sounds smart and the early buzz says the movie won’t disappoint. The only problem is this dust-up between the studios. Fans can only hope they settle this pissing match so that the flick can actually hit the sreens in 2009 as intended – or ever, for that matter.

3) The Wise Man’s Fear – book 2 in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle
I just got finished reading The Name of the Wind a little while ago and it impressed the hell outta me. Intelligent and believable fantasy. Rothfuss is definitely an author to keep an eye on.

2) A Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons
Yes, I know this was released in 2008, but I’ve had it on order for a few weeks and it hasn’t arrived yet, so, obviously, I’m now looking forward to it in 2009. Because I’m a huge Simmons fan, and his stories have yet to disappoint, this is one of the foreseeable reading highlights of the year.

1) Battlestar Galactica – the final episodes of Season 4
BSG is one of the best shows on television. Ever. I’m still right pissed off that Season 4 got split in two and we’ve had to wait so long for the back half to hit the air. But that being said, better late than never, ’cause some great SF shows, like Firefly, never get the chance to come into their own. I’ll be spending this weekend watching the webisodes as a warmup, and next week, when the beginning of the end kicks off, it’ll be sweet indeed.

Over to you, harrysaxon!

And how about everyone else? What are all of you looking forward to in SF in 2009?

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The top 5 SF remakes

December 18, 2008

It seems as SF fans we’ve been hit with a lot of remakes in TV and the movies over the past few years. Say what you will about lack of originality or Hollywood returning to the trough, my biggest beef has always been the fact that most of the remakes (or re-imaginings, to hoist the pretentious flag studios and directors frequently hide behind to get around having to cop to a lack of originality) tend to be pretty deep in the suckage. Last week’s failed attempt to reboot the classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (which, despite some weaknesses is still very much worth watching today and was in no need of a remake) added yet another splash in the great cinematic mud puddle of flops (and I’m not referring to any box office numbers here, I’m talking about the sheer lack of quality to the story). This recent embarassment has prompted many out there to highlight the litany of bad remakes. But after reading a few of those, I got to thinking about some of the remakes in TV and the movies that have worked over the years and are still worth watching. And so, this week’s list:

5. The Mummy
This remake of a black-and-white horror classic worked for all kinds of reasons: good special effects, plenty of laughs without detracting from the story, a couple of genuinely scary moments (if you wear glasses, don’t tell me you weren’t on the edge of your seat during the scene in the tomb in the first half of the movie where the mummy makes his first acquisitions), and lots of Indiana Jones-style action. The Mummy did what a summer popcorn flick was supposed to: give audiences a lot of fun. Still worth rewatching.

4. The Thing
I can’t say John Carpenter’s 80’s gore-fest is a film I want to watch often, but I can appreciate it for being a successful updating of a classic into the realm of modern horror. In typical Carpenter style, there’s plenty of tension, as well as some memorable lines: “I don’t know what that thing in there is, but it’s weird and it’s pissed off!” (perhaps not word-for-word accurate, but as close as I can recall off the top of my head after a long day)

3. Superman
For decades this comic book superhero had been featured in film and TV and pretty much done to death. But in 1978, Richard Donner and co gave wings to a movie that breathed new life into the character by retelling his origin story, and in doing so actually inspired a sense of wonder. Maybe there was something in the water in the back half of the 70’s that caused so many great SF films to be born, but despite its weaknesses (like Margot Kidder), the ’78 remake of Superman remains for me the standard by which all superhero movies are judged.

2. King Kong
Peter Jackson’s 2005 version, that is, not the titanic mistake of ’76 with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange (both of whom deserved to be in a much, much better movie). Jackson’s film is a love letter to the original that inspired him to get into cinema and it shows. While it’s a good deal longer than the original, Jackson’s version has all the fun, toothy stuff they probably wished they could have done back in the 30’s and does a great job of flushing-out the characters so that it’s more than just a giant monster movie. With the exception of the sequence on the pond in the park, this film is a real masterpiece.

1. the new Battlestar Galactica
What sets this show apart from the other features on this list isn’t so much that it’s a TV show based on a TV show (as opposed to a movie remaking an older movie or inspired by a comic or short story), it’s the level of improvement. All of the previous nominations have been based on competent, good, or very good predecessors, but BSG was born of suckage. I enjoyed the original ’79 TV series when I was a kid – because I was a kid and didn’t see just how bad it was. But a few years ago the concept evolved, rising out of the gooey slime of its inspiration and becoming one of the best damn TV shows. Ever. And one that’s worth rewatching. Sure, there’s a lot of argument about whether it has suffered from weak moments, but by and large it’s been consistently provocative and intelligent and is always very cool visually.