By the gold chains of Mr. T! Hollywood is once again birthing an abomination. To quote Arnold Rimmer: “You filthy piece of distended rectum.” How odious of you to once again take a classic piece of literature, ‘re-imagine’ it (as you call it – more like rewrite, recast, pluck the heart from and leave the rest of the carcass to rot by the roadside), and release it into the unsuspecting world with its original title. We’ve seen this happen many times in the past.
It’s not that these are necessarily bad movies. They (well, most of them – ‘Bewitched’- hack, sputter, spew) can be enjoyable, but only if viewed without comparison to the original. How many remakes can you think of where you expected the movie-makers to follow the established canon, only to discover they had ‘put their own spin’ on things? Dozens, I’ll bet.
“I, Robot” is a good example. The movie starring Will Smith was fine on its own as a science fiction / action movie, but it had little to do with the original group of short stories written by the incomparable Isaac Asimov. [If you want to read the script Dr. A. wanted to see as the “I, Robot” movie, look for Harlan Ellison’s “I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay.” (For the sake of the future of humanity, please, please, please, do not buy it from Amazon.)] Those who thought the movie would remain faithful to the original work were disappointed. Those who weren’t familiar with the original enjoyed themselves. If the movie-makers had called it “Robots Amok” or “Synthetic Awareness” or anything other than “I, Robot”, both groups of movie-goers would have been happy. By using the original title, it inspired resentment and loathing.
Use the words, “based on”, “with a nod to”, “stolen from”, “cherry picked bits from” or some other phrase when mentioning the original title, but do not use the original title. Perhaps there could be a formula devised to calculate whether or not the original title may be used. Say, if 95% of the new work follows the established canon of the old work, then it can use the original title. An example of this would be Steve Carell’s “Get Smart”.
A predominantly Black “A Wrinkle in Time” should be renamed to “Wrinkle” or “Time Wrinkle” or “How Meg Got Her Groove Back” or something other than “A Wrinkle in Time”, because it is not “A Wrinkle in Time”. How about “A Crease in Time”? It has the potential to be a wonderful film, but it is not “A Wrinkle in Time”.
An all-Black ‘Wizard of Oz’ was given the new name “The Wiz” in the 1970s. People knew not to expect it to be exactly the same as the original. (Yes, I know the film version tanked. The Broadway show the movie was based on did quite well, winning 7 Tony awards – including Best Musical.)
If you are going to base a new work (which these movies are) on an original work, give the new work a new title. Don’t sell tickets by conning audiences into thinking they are getting something they are not. A pizza with a seaweed crust is not a pizza. Ice cream that contains no dairy is not ice cream. (For the love of God, vegans, come up with your own name for your craptastic “treat”.)
I pity the fool who makes a movie with an established name and puts out a pale imitation. May the jewelled knuckles of B. A. Baracus plant a hearty high-5 on your face.