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Tag Archive: remakes


magnificent-seven-banner-2016

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost more useful to critique the critics than the new movie The Magnificent Seven, released in theaters this weekend.  You’ll find the whole lot so predictable.  The Magnificent Seven is a reboot or a remake (call it what you want) and so the best that critics are willing to do is provide the phoned-in, knee-jerk dismissal of it being something less than the original and therefore not worth the time it takes them to write a thoughtful review.  Or they will compare it to the best Westerns of all time, and tell you why it falls short.  The better reviews will point out that it’s a remake of the 1960 classic Western starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.  The smarter ones will remind you that even that version was based on the original Japanese version, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  Paycheck earned.  Existence justified.  But that’s all too easy.

Yes, the original 1960 John Sturges version is both a great Western and quite fun (it’s on my top ten list).  The darker original Japanese film is more dramatic, brilliant in its simplicity, and not so much a rousing popcorn movie.  Is the 2016 remake among the best Westerns of all time?  Maybe not.  But is it a good Western?  Absolutely.  Do we always want to see the best picture nominee when we go to the theater?  I don’t.  I want to have fun.  And The Magnificent Seven is a blast.  In fact, critics are looking at it wrong.  It’s actually the year’s best superhero movie.

I understand the modern film critic’s dilemma, especially when Hollywood seems to have lost its imagination, churning out remake after remake.  It’s the same old song:  If you were a fan of–or better yet–love the original, you’re more likely than not to brush off the remake altogether, or at least not give it the attention it deserves.  Those who never saw the original or those who can view a remake as its own incarnation–those who can tell themselves their feelings for the remake will not “ruin” their feelings about the original–probably enjoyed the Star Trek reboot from 2009, or Always, or Assault on Precinct 13, or The Flight of the Phoenix, The Fog, The Jackal, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Money Pit, Ocean’s Eleven, RoboCop, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, or Walking Tall.  Each of these, viewed on their own merits is a great film.  They may even be good remakes.  Those who avoid The Magnificent Seven are missing out on a fun outing.  And a good remake.

sensmeier-magnificent-seven-scene

Today’s ensemble movie is mostly found in the superhero genre.  Stack up The Magnificent Seven against The Avengers, The Avengers 2, or Captain America: Civil War, or any DC Comics superhero film of the past 20 years, and it leaves them all in its dust in its success in introducing a team, getting them to work together, and MacGyver the situation into some giant climactic battles.  Each of the titular seven stars of the movie have their own extraordinary abilities, they just don’t wear capes.  It’s an ensemble piece.  A superhero team-up.  So why don’t we have a casting Oscar?  The three casting directors knew what they were doing–they created the teams for Suicide Squad, Batman v. Superman, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Sin City, and Star Wars Episode VIII.

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THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost a shame this weekend’s big screen release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a retelling of the 1960s television series.  It’s an adaptation in that it takes the framework of the show—an American and a Russian working together as Cold War era spies—yet director Guy Ritchie makes this work stand completely by itself.  The fact that it’s based on a classic series may turn away viewers who may be tired of other remakes of 1960s shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (both of which were good standalone films).  But that would be a great loss, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not only as stylish as advertised in our favorite trailer of the year, it’s a classy and smart story and a superb re-creation of the early 1960s.

It’s no surprise that this film relishes its Bond influences–Henry Cavill’s character Napoleon Solo was created by Ian Fleming, the same Ian Fleming that created Bond.  Yet the movie is fresh and new.  The story and Cavill’s performance evoke Matt Bomer’s role of stylish and cocky ex-art thief-turned government man on TV’s White Collar.  In fact Cavill is a dead ringer for Bomer.  Likely it’s just a coincidence but if you loved White Collar you’ll love this film.  And any doubts you may have as to Cavill’s acting because of the poorly written part he was stuck with in Man of Steel will be wiped away with his confident and suave Solo.  Even better is Armie Hammer’s performance as Illya Kuryakin.  Any doubts you may have as to Hammer’s acting from his lead role in The Lone Ranger will also be wiped away.  Hammer’s performance as a KGB agent in need of some anger management is nuanced and layered.  The idea of putting some Ennio Morricone musical queues behind Hammer and adding a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry twitch are simply inspired.  This is a great team and a film that sets itself up for an exciting sequel.

Cavill Debicki Man from UNCLE

As commanding a presence as Cavill and Hammer have, they are almost upstaged by the equally important roles played by Alicia Vikander as the German daughter of a rocket scientist and Elizabeth Debicki as the ultimate Bond villain.  The villainy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is surprisingly as powerful, seething, and fun as any 1960s Bond film.  All of this is a credit to Ritchie’s bankable directorial and writing prowess.  A fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ritchie knows how to get the best out of partnerships here, just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes movie series.

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By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

This week, Jerry Bruckheimer tweeted a picture of Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer starring as The Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Glancing at Wikipedia, The Lone Ranger started as a radio program, then becoming movies, a TV show, comic books, Saturday morning cartoons and eventually back to a TV show, comic book and a movie.  CJ Bunce reviewed the new comic back in February and it sounds pretty good.  From our discussion of Alan Moore there is a lot of stuff by good writers that are re-imagining of heroes, new takes or just new stories.  It feels weird to think and then write that maybe the remakes aren’t bad.  (Credit to CJ for making me lean in that direction from our discussion.)

I have to assume that The Lone Ranger is an iconic American hero because I didn’t really grow up watching the show in syndication like CJ.  Still, when you think of The Lone Ranger, you think of the TV show, as the serials have disappeared and no one really listens to old radio shows.  If you haven’t seen the TV show or read the comic books, you might not have a warm, fuzzy feeling about the characters.  But, if you have, then there will be a strong feeling of nostalgia gripping you as you hear stories about this movie’s approach to the multiplex.  If there’s one thing that I think I know, it’s that nostalgia sells.

So, I started to think about the cartoons, movies and TV programs of my youth (thanks to Ruby and Spears and the anticipation of that WonderCon panel sending me down memory lane) and how many have been made into movies or remade or re-imagined.  The list is quite extensive.  Here are a few along with the length of time to the remake.  I want to see if I can find an average of the length of time for the formula: profit = nostalgia times age.

Scooby Doo – started in 1969.  Film in 2002.  33 years.


The Brady Bunch – 1969.  Film in 1995.  26 years.


The Dukes of Hazzard – 1979.  Film in 2005.  26 years.


The Smurfs (American cartoon) – 1981.  Film in 2011.  30 years.


Psycho – 1960.  Remake – 1998.  38 years.


Footloose – 1984.  Remake – 2011.  27 years.


The Karate Kid – 1984.  Remake – 2010.  26 years.

I’m going to go ahead and call solution – 26 years is the age for the formula.  Let’s just say that given production times, the time to write a script and to get a cast, you need a couple of years of lead-time.  I’m going to say I need to start looking at movies and TV shows from 23 years ago.  So, if I was to predict the TV shows, cartoons and movies that will be remade, have a sequel made or made into movies in the next couple of years, here is your top ten of TV shows and movies that premiered in 1989:

10.  Major Dad (It’s a drama – will he or won’t he go to Iran?  It’s a comedy – will he or won’t he offend any natives?!  Oops, it’s really both (and probably a bit offensive)!)

9.  The Legend of Zelda (If they can make movies from Twilight shouldn’t this be a breeze?  Zelda plays a lot harder to get than Bella.)

8.  Doogie Howser M.D. (Starring Justin Bieber!  Neil Patrick Harris can do a funny cameo!)

7.  Coach (Make him the coach at Ohio State or… yeah, don’t go to the other big scandal school.  Penn State won’t be funny for a long, long, long, long time.  Kind of like Eddie Murphy.)

6.  The California Raisin Show (Don’t make an Elton John joke.  Don’t make an Elton John joke.  Don’t make an Elton John joke.)

5.  Saved By The Bell (If I had a dollar for every Saved By The Bell reference I’ve heard, well, I probably would have enough money to get me and several of my friends very hopped up on speed for a night.)

4.  Road House (Remember when bouncers used to be cool?  Now, it’s all “you can’t wear that to this club” or “you can’t come into this club” or “hahahahaha.”  Dalton would never laugh at me (I say as I sob into my iced tea.))

3.  Ghostbusters II/Lethal Weapon II (Dan Aykroyd and Mel Gibson will probably pull a Stallone and go back to the only well they have that’s still popular.  Aykroyd is almost there already.  Yes, I realize using sequels is cheating according to the Pismo Beach/Albuquerque Convention of 2007 governing Internet lists and right turns.)

2.  Murder, She Wrote (Yes, I know I am cheating again since this premiered in 1986.  Still, it was very popular in 1989.  Plus, can you think of a better ironic look at the 80s as a Betty White vehicle than this?  You can?  A Maggie Smith vehicle?  Ok, that works too.  Heck, Angela Lansbury is still available.  Too bad it wasn’t Murder, They Wrote.)

1.  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Hooray, they’ve already got the script.  I love this movie.  I can’t wait to see this.

You see I’ve already fallen for the nostalgia.  If any of these interest you, or you’ve thought of a few of your own, then you probably have as well.