Davis: Hollywood safe with remakes

Russell Crowe (left), Colin Farrell and writer-director Akiva Goldsman on the set of Winter’s Tale, the only movie released this week that is not a remake. - Contributed
Russell Crowe (left), Colin Farrell and writer-director Akiva Goldsman on the set of Winter’s Tale, the only movie released this week that is not a remake.
— image credit: Contributed

Is Hollywood out of new ideas? Three out of four movies being released this weekend say yes because they are remakes of hits from the 1980s.

Robocop is the remake of the 1987 hit starring Rob Weller and directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a dystopian near-future about a critically injured police officer who is brought back from the brink of death by becoming robotically enhanced, it was made for a modest $13 million and grossed over $50 million, spawning two sequels.

The remake has a much more impressive $130 million budget and features the star-power of Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton and Jay Baruchel. The title character is played by Joel Kinnaman, a Swedish actor best known for his role in the AMC TV series The Killing.

Best known for its title song featuring a duet between Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, Endless Love was a moderate box-office success back in 1981, featuring a young Brook Shields who was riding a wave of success and controversy with Pretty Baby (1978) and The Blue Lagoon (1980).

The remake stars Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) and relative newcomer Gabriella Wilde as well as Robert Patrick, Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, it is of a privileged girl and a charismatic boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart.

In 1986, director Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall, The Last Samurai) brought David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago to the big screen as About Last Night…, starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Perkins and James Belushi.  It was a modest box office success and its simple yet engaging story of two urban couples trying to develop relationships drew positive critical reviews.

The remake features an African-American cast including Kevin Hart (Ride Along), Regina Hall (Think Like a Man), Michael Ealy (TV’s Almost Human) and Joy Bryant (TV’s Parenthood) and is directed by Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine).

The only “original” movie this week is the one I am most excited about.  Winter’s Tale is based upon Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel and adapted by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind).

Starring Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay, it is a fantasy-drama set in both 1916 and present-day. It is a magical love story spanning almost a century.

Although this might be putting too high an expectation on Winter’s Tale, the preview reminded me of The Princess Bride.

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