For anyone wondering why science fiction has been in such a dismal state in Hollywood, at least until the success of The Hunger Games this past weekend, look no further than two upcoming movies: RoboCop and Ninja Turtles. Sound familiar? It’s because those movies have already been done, and now Hollywood is doing them again.
It’s not just the fact that they’re remakes that’s the problem though. It’s the approach Hollywood is taking to remake them. The thing is, RoboCop will no longer be “robo” and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will no longer be mutants.
RoboCop is being done by a director named Jose Padhilla and he recently revealed to MTV that RoboCop’s face will no longer be covered. He won’t look robotic. Instead “the visor is going to be see-through” and “you’re going to see his eyes.”
Why abandon one of the most sci-fi iconic images of all time? Simple. He’s not so interested in the sci-fi side of this story. Padhilla says he’s more interested in making something grounded in reality. What he calls “a real movie” or a “movie movie”. I’m not entirely sure what that means but it’s resulting in a film that’s less sci-fi than it should be. Padhilla says he’s trying to make RoboCop more human, but if you wanted to make a movie about a human cop, why bother with RoboCop? None of it makes any sense.
What Michael Bay is doing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles makes even less sense. They’ve shortened the title to Ninja Turtles because that’s what John Carter did and it worked so well for them (sarcasm indicated… John Carter was a massive flop, and a lot of its failure was blamed on the title). But it’s not the title change that’s the film’s biggest problem. What’s really wrong with the new Ninja Turtles is that they’re turning them into aliens.
That’s right the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will no longer be mutants, or for that matter even really turtles. Michael Bay feels it’s necessary to turn them into aliens to give them a more complicated backstory. It seems odd to have a filmmaker admit he’s not creative enough to write the kind of movie his characters deserved, but to me that’s exactly what he’s doing. Aliens, rather than an exciting concept which could be used to challenge our preconceived ideas, have become Hollywood’s biggest crutch. Whenever you don’t have a better idea, whenever you’re not talented enough to come up with something better, Hollywood now just throws aliens in. It’s not good for anyone.
In each case filmmakers have picked up an existing franchise and then, presumably because they think it’s to hard to do it the way it’s supposed to be, have watered it down to make it less unique and interesting. They’re polishing off all the points and edges in the story, all the things that made each of these sci-fi franchises so unique and interesting in the first place, in the name of appealing to the masses.
If any of them really think this will work, someone should probably show them John Carter.