We knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time. Another classic sci-fi/action flick, this time Mad Max, has been remade. Dag-YARM it.
Of course, it’s not being billed as a remake, but as a sequel, so yet another sequel. Does that make it better? Probably not. “Sequel” now means, “no! It’s not a remake or reboot or, or a reimagining! And it’s definitely not a naked money grab based on late-70s, early-80s nostalgia for the coveted Adults 18-49 market! Really, it’s not! It’s a, um, restructuring synergifaction of the original that extends canon into, uh, heretofore unexplored territories. Yeah, that sounds good!”
I sound like a broken record. I know film companies exist to make money. I know that one of the easiest ways to make money is to play with people’s emotions by bringing back something beloved and familiar, with the promise of making it new and exciting. I know all that. But I still want movie studios to leave some things alone. Do you know why? Because they can’t frigging get it right. Too many cooks, too little or too much money, too something whatever–I don’t care why they don’t get it right. They just don’t. Look at Star Wars: Episodes I-III: crap. 2012’s The Thing: so focused on explaining every little thing (ha!) about Carpenter’s that it forgot to think through itself as its own movie. 1998’s Psycho: a frame-for-frame remake that added nothing to Hitchcock’s. 2012’s Total Recall: totally unnecessary, missing the campy goodness of Verhoeven’s 1990 original. Terminator Salvation: a steaming turd that made no sense (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was at least fun).
Please don’t think that I’m some Nattering Naybob of Filmic Negativism. I love me some bad movies. It’s just that some movies, especially the cinematic legends, are too good to be futzed with. Yet they always are futzed with, and results almost uniformly stink. In fact, let me know in the comment section of any remakes/prequels/sequels of old-ish movies that equal or surpass the original. (Don’t count stuff like The Godfather I-II, X-Men and X-Men 2, or others that came out in relatively quick succession. We’re talking revivals here.) Maybe Predators? Didn’t take itself too seriously, fun narrative twists while paying homage to the original, Danny Trejo–not too shabby. The new Star Treks?
The worst thing about these re-thingies are the trailers. They’re soooo good, as trailers are wont to be, that against my better judgment I get super-excited. The preview for Terminator Salvation had great fight clips, and even featured a killer (and cryptic if you know the movie’s alternate endings) Nine Inch Nails song. Then the actual movies suck so bad that I sink into a pit of pop culture despair, waiting for the next awesome flick to throw me a rope.
Hold on. I think I had a breakthrough. It’s not necessarily that the past is sacred and the graves should be left undisturbed. Maybe it’s that the dead have never been properly reanimated. If someone could take a fantastic, low-budget favorite like, say, Mad Max, and give it new non-Pet Sematary life…
Oh, man. Oh man. This looks cool. But so did the other previews! How can I judge this objectively? Ok, so we know it’s a big-budget flick with lots more special effects than 1979’s, most of it CGI. We just have to accept that. Can they keep the world dusty and rusty and dirty and desperate? On one hand we have lots of desert and dust storms and sand-filtered sun, not to mention vehicles that look like mutant Transformer babies. On the other hand, we have suspiciously pretty and well-groomed denizens of a world that fights over clean water and gasoline. To be fair, grade-A actors Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are so difficult to ugly up that they have to shave Theron entirely and give her weird make-up–and she still looks great!–and go all Bane again on Hardy and clamp something to his face.
As with nearly all revivals, the writers and director feel the need to add to or reinterpret the story. This is going to involve new characters and plot lines. The best we can hope for is that they will at least honor the original, i.e.: no freaking cutesy little kids or Jar Jar Binks. That trailer looks like one giant chase movie with admittedly fantastic crashes/fights/etc, which could be great or just exhausting. Over the top? You just Cirque Du Soleil: Afghanistan with cars gleefully destroying each other, so of course it’s gonna be over the top. Let’s pull for liberal use of long tracking shots and conservative use of flashy lighting, jump cuts, and slo-mo.
Ok, the director: George Miller. His non-documentary movies since 1985? The Witches of Eastwick, Lorenzo’s Oil, Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet Two. (Deep breath…) So why the HELL is he directing Mad Max 4?!? Because he also directed Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. (Exhale…)
I’ll try my best not to get excited about Mad Max: Fury Road. Yes, it has great main actors, a seemingly cool and not-too-ambitious storyline, gnarly chase sequences, and the original director. But trailers don’t mean anything. They put all the good stuff in the trailers, right? I can convince myself not to watch this preview a few dozen times because the actual movie is just going to poop all over my expectations, correct? If I’m hoping for anything, please, please let it be rated R.
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