Tuesday, 23 February 2010



I've nothing against remakes in principle. They're like cover versions. It happens in theatre all the time: for every production of The Mikado or King Lear in the traditional textbook doublet-and-hose variety there's another production performed in the nude or on stilts (or both). Fine. Movies aren't sacred texts that Must Not Be Re-Interpreted and if someone has a new and exciting angle on an old story then they should go for it, and we can judge the results not just as a film on its own terms but in the light of its predecessor. Thus the remake of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three fails on both counts because the only things Tony Scott has brought to the table are swearing and noise, while the revamped Dawn Of The Dead gets away with it as a solid, entertainingly grisly zombie movie although it's not a patch on George A Romero's original (though as the Romero film is The Greatest Film Ever Made, it was obviously never going to match up). But why do a xerox movie remake, scene for scene, or even shot for shot, where the whole point is that you're NOT bringing anything new to the party? Okay, so the only reason they did a 95% restaging of The Omen was because some marketing bods spotted the release date gimmick of 06/06/06. But in what sense is Gus Van Sant's Psycho actually A Gus Van Sant Film when every single creative decision had already been made by Alfred Hitchcock decades previously?

The new Long Weekend is a pretty faithful xerox of the 1978 film: a couple try to get back to nature for the weekend but treat Mother Nature so shabbily that She doesn't get mad, She gets even. Strange noises in the night, a dead dugong apparently crawling up the beach, spearguns that go off by themselves, animal attacks. This doesn't help the couple's fractured, fractious relationship, which descends from sullenness through aggrieved bickering down to shrieking hostility. Since Jim Caviezel plays the leading role as such an arrogant, despicable individual (far moreso than I can recall from the original), his final moments do elicit a cheer.

It's not bad: it rattles along perfectly well but I'm still not sure what we're supposed to get out of it that we didn't from the Colin Eggleston original (this remake is dedicated to him, and he's namechecked when they couple stop off at the Eggleston Hotel). Maybe it's more like a tribute act than a cover version - but wouldn't you want to see, for example, the real Coldplay rather than a bunch of people pretending to be Coldplay?


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