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Thursday, June 11, 2009

THE REMAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE or FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHY?!!?

Fuck unnecessary remakes. Fuck 'em in the ear!!! They nearly always bite the big one and in no way improve on the original films upon which they were based (see Peter Jackson's KING KONG as proof), so I guess Hollywood keeps churning them out in hope that they'll succeed on name recognition alone. Never mind the across the board desecration of legitimately good, sometimes even classic films...

An utterly unnecessary remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE opens this Friday, and I've been against its mere existence since first hearing it was coming into being a little over a year ago. Why does that film need to be remade for a modern audience? Other than it taking place in the Manhattan of the time when it was made, the movie has not dated one bit and its tense heist plotline remains gripping from start to finish. I very much doubt John Travolta's contemporary take on Robert Shaw's chilling and all-business Mr. Blue will engender even half the dread found in Shaw's performance; at no time did the audience doubt Blue's stated intention of killing the subway-riding hostages unless his demands and instructions were carried out to the letter, and when his men did finally kill people it carried all the impact of getting hit square in the mouth with a brick. From what I've seen in the trailers for the new version, Travolta's bad guy is a bit of a jocular wiseass, and that strikes me as annoying rather than actually scary. Sure, what he's doing is potentially fear-inducing, but I always feel that snarky bad guys come off more as just a bunch of contrived, script-mandated pricks rather than a viable threat. And what's the deal with Denzel Washington? His bland subway traffic controller cannot possibly be on par with Walter Matthaus's weathered and clued-in Garber. By the look of things, he was hired to provide a pretty black face, thus ensuring the ticket money of my fellow highly-rhythmic individuals and those who drool over Denzel's fine ass.

I know I'm whining about something that's merely another summer popcorn movie, but seriously, do we need this movie? I'd bet even money that anyone from today's audience, regardless of age, would find it impossible not to get drawn into the original's setup and stay hooked throughout. The current PELHAM looks to be yet another remake item spewn from the abused asshole of a lazy Hollywood, and I, for one, refuse to believe it's just due to the dream factory having run out of ideas. No, it's laziness and hope of cashing in on a commodity that people may have heard of thanks to its considerable reputation, but may not have seen. TRUST YER BUNCHE and check out the 1974 original. It's easily obtainable through Netflix and should be seen and remembered as one of the best thrillers of its era. Let's see if the same can be said about the new one...

2 comments:

Jim Browski said...

I agree completely. I LOVE the original film. It's my favorite "caper" film of all time. In fact, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a screening of it at The Avon Theatre (Stamford, CT) recently, a glorious old restored movie palace that shows revivals and hard to find Indie and Foreign films. Seeing Messrs. Shaw and Matthau on a wide screen, in this classic yarn was wonderful.
I doubt this remake (or is it a re-imagining?) can even come close to the original, and the trailers don't give me any reason to feel otherwise.
An interesting footnote, this new Pelham 123 is actually the second time it was remade. There was a tv film, in 1998, which starred Edward James Olmos (in the Matthau role) and Vincent D'Onofrio (limning the Shaw role). I didnt see it, but I understand it was underwhelming.

Jared said...

You're wrong. It's going to be the greatest movie of all time.