Fans and celebrities are equally protective about many Hollywood movies, refusing to even discuss a remake in some cases. Last summer, for instance, Ralph Macchio, the star of the 1984 classic “The Karate Kid,” told the “New York Post” that one of the biggest obstacles in the upcoming remake would be filling the essential role of Mr. Myagi. Pat Morita originated the character 25 years ago, but Jackie Chan puts a different spin on the character in the new “Karate Kid” film.
On the other hand, a remake or reboot can keep a franchise alive after a film turns out to be a commercial and critical failure. This is especially true in the Superhero genre, where Superman, Batman and the Incredible Hulk all came back from the cinematic scrapheap thanks to recent remakes. J.J. Abrams even pulled the Starship Enterprise out of dry dock in 2009 for an adrenaline-soaked reboot of the whole “Star Trek” franchise.
With that in mind, let’s look at three classic films that seem ripe for a 21st-Century remake:
“Fantastic Voyage” (1966): Thanks to Netflix, I watched the 1966 version of “Fantastic Voyage” several times in January-and not just to see Raquel Welch in a form-fitting wet suit. Heavily influenced by the Cold War, the plot focused on the secret of miniaturization. Ideally, a country that can shrink an entire battalion small enough to fit in a bottle cap would conquer the world, but current technology could only keep objects at microscopic size for 60 minutes.
After a scientist with the key to unlimited miniaturization is injured, the government shrinks 5 specialists to the size of microbes, injecting them into his bloodstream. With only one hour to dissolve a blood clot, the tiny humans had to battle their way through his bodily defenses.
Fans of the original definitely would like to see a remake, with the names James Cameron and Zoe Saldana mentioned in connection with an updated”Fantastic Voyage.” Saldana would be great as the commander of the Proteus, the submarine used in the original, especially since one character in the original said that a woman didn’t belong on the team. As of April 1, Paul Greengrass, who helmed the fantastic “United 93,” also was considering taking the director’s slot for the remake.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939): Watching this Frank Capra classic in 2010 reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Jimmy Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a wide-eyed patriot who is tapped to fill a vacate U.S. Senate seat. Dirty politicians and political machines almost chew the naïve Smith to little pieces, but he receives some good coaching and stands up to the big boys during a 24-hour filibuster.
Congress has been battling hot-and-heavy this year, especially over Health Care Reform, so it would be interesting to see an updated version of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Jim Carrey has shown he can do serious roles (i.e. “The Truman Show”), and it would be great to see his interpretation of Jefferson Smith.
“The Breakfast Club” (1985): When this John Hughes classic arrived in theaters during my last year in college, I thought it should become required viewing for every high school student in America. Hughes and several of his favorite performers presented 5 stereotypical students who are forced to spend a Saturday detention together. Barriers and prejudices dropped away over the next 8 hours, showing each kid that they weren’t so different after all.
For a “Breakfast Club” remake, Freddie Highmore of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” fame would be a perfect fit for the bookish character originated by Anthony Michael Hall. In a bit of role-reversal, Chloe Moretz from “Kick-Ass” could play the athletic character created by Emilio Estevez in 1985.
NYPost.com, “Ralph Macchio: I Won’t Cameo in ‘The Karate Kid’ Remake!”, Jarett Wieselman
Filmonic.com, “Paul Greengrass in talks to direct ‘Fantastic Voyage,” Liam