Monday, June 29, 2009

Wandering off topic: SF movie remakes

The redo of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" converted the original (a taut, sincerely felt two-character drama) into a special effects / eco-preaching mess. I'd overlooked the news of a "Forbidden Planet" remake in the offing, but it's coming. When I first saw the original just a couple of years ago, I thought, "I hope they don't remake it. The story can't really be improved, or at least it won't be - the remake would just graft CGI and sex onto a well-written and -acted classic." Silly me. Of course they are going to remake it.
There's a lot of interest in cryptozoological circles about the remake of one of the best cryptozoology-themed movies of the 50s, "The Creature From the Black Lagoon." Are we going to get the same good story, with better science? Of course not. We're going to get a creature mutated by pharmaceutical waste. Making classics politically correct doesn't improve them.
(One thing that sometimes does improve with time: I like butt-kicking leading ladies much better than the passive victims in films like "Creature," but that alone is not a good enough reason to mess with success. And the original of "Day" had a better female lead than the remake anyway.)
Science fiction can be a great tool for entertaining people while introducing important scientific concepts. Filmmakers seem only interested in the first half. OK, those 50s classics were limited to the science and scientific vision of the times, but they were such good stories it didn't matter as much. Yes, I'm applying a double standard, and I don't care. To any filmmakers who wander across this post: if you're going to do science fiction, either new or remade, put some science in it. Real science, not looks-cool-but-impossible stuff (yeah, Star Trek, that means you) or simplistic preaching. It won't turn people off. There is intelligent life in the American public. You're just not trying to communicate with it.

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