Wednesday, December 01, 2010

     A couple of non-related things.

     There's a difference between a re-imagination of something and a remake and a reboot. It's a fine distinction sometimes. Example: Batman Begins is a re-imagining of an established character but it's also a reboot of an established franchise. A reboot of a franchise becomes necessary when a) The last movie in the series is so bad that another movie in the series becomes a question mark and/or a really long time has passed between the old series and the new one. (Batman and Robin kills the Batman franchise in 1997. The first 3 movies made enough to make it worth reviving the series. It takes 6 plus years for the studio to agree on a director, an approach, and a cast and 2 years for the actual movie to get made. Thanks to Christopher Nolan it works. The same can't be said for Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns") "The Dark Knight" takes it even further and becomes the most honored "comic book movie" ever made.

    And why am I typing this? 'Cause I just saw the remake/imagining/possibly reboot of "The Karate Kid".
I was never crazy about the original 'cause to me it was just a variation on Rocky. Even had the same director, John G. Avildsen who did a lot Rocky variations like 2 of the Karate Kid sequels and Rocky 5 among others. I also never bought the concept of Pat Morita as a martial arts teacher.

     So how come I loved remake/imagining/reboot with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Well, A couple of reasons... For one, They took the fish out of water theme to its extreme. Instead of being a Brooklyn outsider in California, Smith is the child of a transferred auto supervisor who has to re-establish herself in Beijing. The plot is essentially the same. But the change in locale changes everything. Language, customs, even food. And it is Beijing, not a backlot. I loved that it was filmed on location.

     The other thing it has going for it is the casting. Jaden Smith is good. He is also a "Kid" as opposed to an adult that looks like a teenager (Ralph Macchio), so the title makes at least partial sense (Still didn't really explain why it's still called "The Karate Kid" when they are quite obviously doing Kung Fu). The other revelation is Jackie Chan. Chan is great as "Mr. Han" (Mr. Miyagi by a Chinese name). He brings an authenticity and, dare I say it, a gravitas to the role. You know no matter what punishment he dishes out to Smith, its nothing compared to what he himself (and his contemporaries Sammo Hung and Jet Li ) went through at the Chinese Opera School when he was a kid. The other interesting shadow that looms over the movie is that of Bruce Lee.

      There's an unspoken resolution to an equally unspoken competition that's been going on since Jackie Chan was being touted as the successor to Bruce Lee. And American companies tried like hell to make him fit that mold. But Chan didn't fit it and, in fact, fought against it. Where Lee expressed rage and vengeance, Chan was a clown and an acrobat, and a stuntman who changed the rules of the game everywhere. And the finale of this Karate Kid is very much a showdown of styles. The Bad Guys use a very direct attack based style, while Jaden is very Jackie Jr, dodging and flipping out of the way, before landing a blow. Both Jaden and Jackie turn out to be the victors. I suspect it was destined to be so...One has difficulty picturing Bruce Lee as Mr. Han, but it fits Jackie Chan like a glove.

     So yeah, I liked it. And no, I don't think it should spawn sequels.

     On the same topic, sort of. Warner Bros. announced last week that it's going ahead with the controversial reboot of the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer franchise without the services of the show's creator, Joss Whedon. The driving force behind this are the producers of the lame movie that preceded wildly successful TV series, which Whedon had all but disowned because the producers and director had messed with the script.
     All I have to say is that the whole thing is doomed before it starts. By my reckoning the only character they have the rights to is Buffy, herself. The rest of the mainstays of the series, Willow, Xander, Angel, Spike, Anya, and Giles, were created for the show and weren't in the original movie.

     It's kinda like doing a remake of "Gilligan's Island" when the only character you have the rights  to is Gilligan. No Skipper, No Maryanne, No Howells, No Ginger, No Professor. Just Gilligan.

Or would that be a reimagining ?

In other news it was my birthday on Monday. I saw a Lon Chaney movie on TCM that I had never seen, so that was cool. I made myself a cake, which turned out great (I think everyone should have cake on their birthday). And I started catching up on Smallville, about which more on a later date...

Anywho, sorry for the delay in posting this... I'll try to keep more regular...writing, that is.

No comments: