Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
You would think that remaking a film or rebooting a franchise would be an easy task. When you think about it, technically it’s been done before, so you can see what worked, what didn’t, what to avoid, what to fill in, and all the ways to improve upon the original story. So why does Hollywood seem to get it wrong most of the time? Well, there are several possible reasons.
Most of the time, if your reboot features less talent and crew than the original, yeah, it’s a tell-tale sign the reboot probably has nothing more to add– or maybe it does and it just flat out sucks. While in other cases, the originals were products of their time, so it hardly makes sense to bring their story into modern day (kind of like the remake of RED DAWN).
By trying to broaden the appeal of the original you’re losing something very special. Not every reboot can be like MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, where they manage to capture the spirit of the original while also putting a fresh spin on the story, making it all the more exciting.
So in honor of THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED‘s release tomorrow, let’s look back at the reboots and remakes that made us cringe with disappointment… and there are so many to pick from.
First up on the chopping block is the 2005 film version of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD. The television series, starring John Schneider and Tom Wopat, is easily considered a classic television series. It’s macho-attitude, Daisy Duke shorts, and its ’69 Dodge Charger captured the hearts and minds of many audiences. Surprisingly (or maybe not), replacing Schneider and Wopat with Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott wasn’t such a popular move. And the directing efforts put forth by Jay Chandrasekhar (SUPER TROOPERS) probably didn’t help much neither.
Holding a 13% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers said the film mentions “if you have to go to the bathroom, now would be the wrong time,” which Travers replied with “I beg to differ. There is no wrong time to flush this turd.” I agree.
– Preston Barta
In 1967, the release of Stanley Kramer’s GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER brought about the national discussion of biracial relationships. It is centered on a white girl (Katherine Ross) bringing her black fiancé (Sidney Poitier) home to meet her parents (Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn) over dinner. By simplifying the plot and timeframe, and taking out any chance of stereotypical conflict by making Sidney Poitier’s character a successful doctor, the film creates a healthy dialogue as her father comes to terms with the swift engagement and see past the color of his skin.
For some reason, Hollywood thought it would be a great idea to remake it 38 years later, but have the races be reversed. This abomination is known as GUESS WHO. They take everything that was good about the original, and made it a bland comedy to sell tickets. There’s no heart here at all, and the dynamic between Simon (Ashton Kutcher) and Percy (Bernie Mac) is one of intimidation rather than understanding, especially when Percy finds out about Simon’s unemployment. Also, Simon is successful but turns into an idiot as he follows the comedic formula of forcing him to make bad decisions for comedy’s sake. There’s nothing to like about either character or this remake.
– Jared McMillan
The beloved 1984 classic film A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET from horror master Wes Craven (may he rest in peace) successfully launched one of the top-grossing horror franchises in history. It also gave little reason to go to bed at night. However, its 2010 remake starring Jackie Earle Haley as the (humorless) Freddy Krueger didn’t even break a sweat with us. It was so awful that it leaned more towards an unintentional comedy.
And even though it won the top spot of its opening weekend, it fell hard and fast, while also sweeping in many bad reviews. Perhaps it’s best to leave it to Robert Englund to invade our dreams.
– Preston Barta
Gus Van Sant is a true artist no question about that, but if I ever see this guy in person I’ll politely tap him on the shoulder and just say one title PSYCHO. Oh, he’ll get the message that this abomination of a stone cold classic was his largest misstep to date. Coming white hot off of GOOD WILL HUNTING, Van Sant had Hollywood eating out of the palm of his hand and with the casting of the at the time relatively fresh actors Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn he just may have another bonafide hit. But the answer to that theory is a resounding NOPE!
PSYCHO (1998) is a shot-for-shot remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic that needs no further explanation. Let’s focus on what the hell Van Sant was doing here, he made an over sexualized version that bordered on sexploitation, and while it’s commendable that he was going for something bold, it ended up being a lavish embarrassment of the highest order for all those involved.
Vaughn played Norman Bates in a strange turn that made Bates out to be more a pervert than a disturbed man with a boyish like charm. Van Sant is an immensely talented mind with an infinite amount of intellect, but this is kind of what you get for trying to copy Hitchcock.
– Cole Clay
THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED opens in participating theaters tonight and everywhere tomorrow.