This weekend, the 2012 remake of the 1990 film Total Recall was released to theatres… and so far, it doesn’t seem to be doing well. The box office isn’t in yet, but it’s getting thrashed critically. As of this writing, the critical rating at RottenTomatoes is sitting at a low 31%, and the audience reception isn’t much better at 56%. If only half the people watching it are liking it, it’s not being well received. And this doesn’t seem to be unusual for remakes, no matter how much Hollywood throws them out there. Psycho, Planet of the Apes, Arthur and many other films have had high-profile remakes that failed to live up to the original.
And yet, it’s not always guaranteed to be a bad thing. The Coen Brothers remake of True Grit received ten Oscar nominations. The Clooney version of Ocean’s Eleven is far superior to the Sinatra version, in my estimation and in apparent audience reception. The Departed is considered a remake of the Japanese film Internal Affairs and won Best Picture and Best Director. Even The Maltese Falcon, one of the most highly regarded films of all time, is a remake of a film made ten years earlier.
So if remakes can be good or bad, what is there to say about the process of making a remake? Since I’ve already given my thoughts on adaptations and sequels, here is more of my completely unsolicited advice to Hollywood. Continue reading