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The Gritty Reboot

3 April 2012

One of them is actually just there looking for his estranged son Walt.

While I was supposed to be working last night, I noticed the 1996 version of “Romeo and Juliet” was on one of the movie channels. I have no problem admitting that I sat down and watched it, and even less problem admitting that, to this day, I love the hell out of that movie.

Come on — I minored in drama in college. You knew something like this was coming eventually.

There are so many great things this film has going for it — it left Shakespeare’s dialogue (mostly) intact, and instead brought the whole thing into a present-day setting with guns, cars, and Southern California standing in for swords, horses, and Italy. And it did this, in my opinion, pretty damned well — there are a few places where I felt like the tone was off (when Tybalt kills Mercuitio [SPOILER ALERT!], I’ve always read it as Mercutio taking it rather less seriously until just about the point he gets killed), but overall, I thought Baz Luhrmann did a fantastic job with this film.

Benvolio plays pool in a hybrid Shakespeare/Scorcese universe.

It’s also kind of amazing how no one in this film seems to have aged in the 16 years since, while I, in comparison, look like Dave Bowman in about Phase III of his transformation to the Star Child.

But watching this movie (and if you haven’t, you should) makes me think that this is a reboot or a remake done right. And it is, indeed, a remake — every time we redo Shakespeare, we’re doing the same thing as the new Robocop or Total Recall people are doing. But this one puts a fresh spin on the characters, settings, and events in the original while still staying shockingly true to the source material, and I dig that. It’s a very clever way to remake a film that’s been made more than once.

It’s actually not a new thing in the theatre community to change the time period of a play and leave pretty much everything else alone — in college, I went to a production of Orestes that was set in a modern, South American military dictatorship rather than ancient Greece. Theatre has had a handle on reboots for a while now.

So, what’s your opinion, folks? What’s the best reboot or remake out there? How close to the source material do you like your re-films to be?

One Comment leave one →
  1. christophergronlund permalink
    3 April 2012 1717

    I like to imagine Dan Akyroyd pays a good screenwriter to write a damn fine Ghostbusters III script, one so good that Bill Murray signs on with his erection!

    THAT is the movie I want to see relaunched!

    Barring that…maybe the Star Wars prequels redone (with the Darth Maul fights left alone…and no other Sith apprentice in the other 2.

    Or the Vin Diesel remake of American Graffiti!

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