Movie Remakes to Check Out
From Page to Screen
If you are in middle or high school right now, most likely your favorite television show or movie has not been remade yet in your lifetime, but it will happen. Someday, there may be a television version of Percy Jackson and the Olympians or Twilight will be remade. (I doubt anyone will ever attempt Harry Potter again but who knows in sixty years?)
I enjoy remakes if the original material was a book or play. Good directors and writers find new ways to interpret novels and plays, which adds to my understanding of the original work. Here's a list of some remakes I've enjoyed and some that are coming out to theaters soon.
Yes, Batman counts! Batman originated in 1939 in Detective Comics (thanks Wikipedia!). I grew up with the cheesy television version, which I loved. The 1989 movie Batman with Michael Keaton impressed me, but the sequels became louder and messier and lacked heart. Then came Batman Begins with the unlikely Christian Bale as Batman. Director Christopher Nolan set a serious tone but had enough quality action sequences to keep the film moving.
Jane Eyre delighted me as a teen and I hunted out all movie versions. The Orson Welles version was odd. (That wasn't my Rochester and Jane was too pretty.) The 1980s version with Timothy Dalton hits all the right romantic notes except Jane looks about thirty. (She's 19 in the books.) Then came the 2007 version starring Ruth Wilson, which is pretty much perfection in my opinion and makes the recent feature film starring Michael Fassbender unnecessary. If you watch all of these, please note how the house always looks the same except for the Orson Welles version because he filmed in Hollywood.
Much Ado About Nothing
I wish high schools assigned this Shakespeare play more because it's a great blend of humor and near tragedy. The play centers on a battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedict who clearly love each other but won't admit it until their friends pull a prank on them. Kenneth Branagh made a sunny, warm-hearted version starring Emma Thompson, Keanu Reeves (yeah, he sort of butchered the Shakespeare), and Denzel Washington. Now my favorite writer/director Joss Whedon has made his own version starring actors from his various television shows over the years. It's been getting good reviews and I'm excited to see how he updates the play for a 21st-century audience.
This Stephen King novel has inspired two feature films, one television movie, and even a Broadway musical. Carrie is about a sixteen-year old girl with a controlling mother, who gets bullied at school, and is the victim of a terrible prank at her prom. John Travolta and Sissy Spacek were in the original 1976 version, which is quite bloody in very unsettling ways, but the bell-bottom jeans make the movie feel dated. This year, we get a shiny new version starring Julianne Moore as the mother and Chloe Grace-Moretz as Carrie. Even more promising, the director is Kimberly Peirce, who makes small, smart films. Carrie is definitely a horror story, but it's one about being grounded by a suffocating mother, being too shy to speak up for yourself, and generally going through life feeling like a loser until you get mad enough to really lose it. It's about a girl's anger unleashed and Chloe Grace-Moretz should deliver. Did you see her in Kick-Ass?
Bruce Timm produced a series of well-done animated Superman movies. Animation is probably the best way to experience Superman, but live action seems to be more popular. Superman Returns had a great Lex Luthor in it played by Kevin Spacey. And now, we get a grittier Superman with this year's Man of Steel, but I hope the film won't be as serious as Batman is. I like my Superman optimistic and my Batman cynical and grim; they balance each other.
Cynthia R. also loved Lois & Clark, but it's not owned by any libraries in San Mateo County.