Remaking Sci-Fi Classics - Are we trading story for special effects?

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by rhonderoo, Jan 3, 2006.

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  1. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    I just recently watched I, Robot with Will Smith which is based on the Isaac Asimov classic, however loosely one interprets it. In all of the special effects, which were admittedly pretty good, the heart of the story seemed to disappear.

    I've heard similar complaints from those that have seen War of the Worlds and King Kong.

    Are these new renditions losing some of the charm that the old ones posessed?
  2. Bacon164 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 22, 2005
    star 7
    I know King Kong didn't.
  3. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I think that I, Robot is different from King Kong and War of the Worlds in that I, Robot isn't actually a remake. It's not even really an adaptation. All it really takes from the novel are some names and the Three Laws.

    That said, I thought the film I, Robot was a fun, well-told sci-fi adventure that actually dealt intelligently with some of the issues raised by hypothetical robotics.

    I can't really comment on WOTW as an adaptation or remake since I haven't read the novel or seen the original film, but I did have trouble wanting to follow Tom Cruise's character. And the ending was lame.

    King Kong, however, was a film that I thought kept the best aspects of the original and improved on them. Let's face it, the original Kong is a classic not because it's a great film but because it had groundbreaking special effects. The remake's special effects aren't groundbreaking, but they are very well done. Though 2005's King Kong is superior film in terms of storytelling, it will not outshine its predecessor's place in film history.
  4. -RebelScum- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2004
    star 6
    I don't know, I havn't seen any of the others you mentioned, but King Kong was brillaint, the best Kong yet. (I have seen the original, the 70s, and Jackson's, but not Son of Kong or the other sequel)

    -The Scummy-
  5. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    I definitely think that story is on the chopping block of special effects. Sometimes effects are there in place of story, and sometimes they are there to pad it out.

    I, Robot, whilst not a remake, is not the adaptation of the book that should've been. THere's an awful lot of 'camera' work that should be there. Spinny things and slo-mo that does my head in.

    However I actually think King Kong is a serious offender. The film should've been about 105 minutes. The story is all there, but I think Jackson indulged himself so much. The Brontosaurus chase was ludicrous, and not half as effective as the simple sequence that takes place in the original. The T. Rex fight (I thought) was a complete mess, and there to simply pad out the skull island section. The insect bit should've been dropped altogether. What Jackson's indulgence in SFX has done to King Kong to me, it pad out the story to such a massive degree that it looses rythm and power and pacing.
  6. Get_in_Gear Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 29, 2004
    star 5
    Good topic, Roo.

    From my personal point of view, it is more of a trend than a rule, that remakes kind of miss the point.
    Films, whether through conscious effort or not, tend to reflect the times in which they were made.
    If a film-maker is savvy enough to take the basic premise but attach new meaning to it, then it can make for a very rewarding remake.

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fine example of this - the two remakes are based on the same material, and are, on the surface, similar, but both deal with totally different social/global issues to the original.
    Perhaps Abel Ferrara's is not so much a successful film in its own right, but it is successful in the sense that it tries to explore new territory within the context of the basic premise.

    John Carpenter's The Thing is another decent sci-fi remake - not constrained by its predecessor, but using it as a springboard for new ideas while simultaneously re-exploring the original source novel.

    Something like Spielberg's War of the Worlds is a failure in my eyes.
    All it adds to the original is spectacle.
    It just says nothing new to me, and is just a recreation of the original with the onus on creating new set pieces, rather than the important stuff in between. The social commentary.
    In the past year or so, we have had Bewitched, Herbie, Dukes of Hazzard, Stepford Wives, Freaky Friday, Kong, and many many more.
    I'm not against remakes per se, but it is disheartening - I don't see anything worthwhile in any of the recent glut of remakes.
    Get Carter? The Italian Job? *shudder*
    Why?
  7. Jedi_Master_Conor Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2005
    star 6
    if we really wanted to w/ remakes couldn't we just do the acting and everything the same way it was in the original versions w/ the exception of the special effects?
  8. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    if we really wanted to w/ remakes couldn't we just do the acting and everything the same way it was in the original versions w/ the exception of the special effects?

    Those can tend to be worthless, too. See: Star Wars & E.T. Special Editions, colorized It's a Wonderful Life.

    Not all remakes are bad, and not all remakes are good. If it were so easy to categorically determine what makes a movie bad or good, we'd all be Spielbergs.
  9. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    Agreed. Special Editions tend to focus more on how they can clean up the special effects from the previous film. That's good and all, but when you start adding special effects scenes, taking away from the overall storyline, you tend to be going to far. The E.T. Special Edition was totally about special effects and adding new scenes. Arguably you can say these scenes added to the storyline, but come on. It was special effects all the way.

    How was the original War of the Worlds? Did it focus more on the story then the current War of the Worlds movie?
  10. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    I thought the new effects they put into E.T were very poor. Any time they switched from the puppet E.T to the CGI E.T I was totally pulled out of the action. The CGI E.T was simply not in keeping with the puppet E.T. I think consistency is essential is one is updating a film's effects.
  11. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    Which is another point. When you have poor special effects that also affects the storyling. So not only can the overuse of special effects take away from the storyline, the poorness of the special effects are also another degrading factor.

    Only when they look real and are used conservatively are special effects a benefit.
  12. Ace_Venom Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 22, 2002
    star 3
    Sometimes it can work for the better to release a director's cut or a special edition. The Butterfly Effect becomes a very tragic morality tale when you view the director's cut. The same movie falls short and is a Hollywood copout for the theatrical release. T2 benefitted for other reasons because it allowed the T-800 to be developed more in the cut scenes and the malfunctions of the T-1000 forced a lot of plot points near the climax to make sense.

    I absolutely loathed the Spielberg version of WotW. That was once instance where a remake did not work. It was a complete insult to the work done by H.G. Wells.
  13. Juliet316 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 8
    Personally I absolutely loathe remakes be it for TV or movies and I just out and out refuse to watch them or spend 10 bucks to see them. Most of the recent remakes have been done poorly (Lost in Space) and/or go so far off the beaten path that it's not even the original source material anymore (Battlestar Galatica). Frankly I've had enough and boycott and make a resolution to boycot all future remakes as soon as I hear about them.
  14. Andalite-Bandit Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2005
    star 6
    But Battlestar Galactica is about 10 times better than the old version. The old series never approached the realism or depth of the current series, and the special effects don't take away from anything either. I'd agree with you about Lost in Space though. That movie was silly. Another example of an absurd remake would be the recent Planet of the Apes nonsense from Tim Burton, although I did like that the ending was closer to that of the book but everybody thought it was wrong.
  15. Juliet316 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 8
    Yeah but this remake BSG SOOOOOOOOO far from the original that it would've been better to just change the character names as it's not even remotely the same show anymore. About all they share is the names.
  16. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Personally, I think that in GENERAL story is being traded out for special effects. So many films that were bad or even okay could have been stellar if just a little bit more thought had been put into the screenwriting from a storytelling perspective rather than just trying to throw in cool moments.

    M. Scott
  17. Funk-E Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 11, 2003
    star 6
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