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Hollywood's Obsession With Remakes

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It was the news that sent me to breaking point - that Hollywood wants to remake 'Pointbreak'.

It's a surf cop classic ( admittedly there aren't that many to compete in that particular genre) starring Keanu Reeves as a police officer who has to track down a gang of bank robbers called the Presidents, so called as they wear face masks of former US leaders.

It was only made in 1991 - so why on earth do they need to update it ? A burning desire to see a rubber effigy of Dubya on someone's face ? Or is it because in Taylor Lautner they've finally got a new star who can deliver Keanu's lines with the same wooden blankness ?

We all know Hollywood is obsessed with the fresh ( just look at the sell by date of actresses.) But even they get 40 odd years. A film's lucky to have a span of 25 before a baby-faced, baseball-capped, Starbucks-carrying studio executive is screaming "remake!"

There's nothing wrong with a fresh vision of a timeless text. Ralph Fiennes's film version of 'Coriolanus' is astonishing. An abridged ' Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' thirty years on from the TV series has reinvigorated interest in Le Carre's original work. And since the 27th adaptation of 'Jane Eyre' features Michael Fassbender in breeches, I shan't complain.

But to remake a classic film - the very definition of which means it stands the test of time - you have to be damn sure it can be as good as the original, which is why 'True Grit' worked and 'The Italian Job' didn't.

At least the recent Hanna Montana-ing of 'Footloose' can show how dentistry has moved on since 1984 - the teeth in the remake are far superior to those crammed in the mouths of Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer in the original. On all other fronts, I'm dubious. It's difficult to believe that they'd ban dancing in 2011. Facebook, that's another matter - but here I am handing the studios ideas.

A remake of 'The Three Musketeers' was more justifiable - the names of Michael York and Richard Chamberlain haven't echoed down the decades since 1973. (Although Charlie Sheen did star in a 1993 Bratpack remake, and wouldn't we all have paid to see him again in 2011? ) Trouble is, they haven't remade The Three Musketeers in 3D, they've remade Pirates of the Caribbean,in the air.

Thus pantomime villain Buckingham, played by Orlando Bloom, lands a flying ship on the lawns of Versailles ( it wouldn't have been built at the time, but when you're seeing a flying frigate, that's a minor detail.)

There's no swash available for the poor Musketeers, they're buckling under the weight of the special effects budget.

I don't know what Colin Farrell will make of the new version of Arnie's 1990 film, 'Total Recall', but I don't buy the studio justification that these movies need to be remade to appeal to a contemporary audience.

Firstly, the only way to appeal to a contemporary audience is 140 characters or less, and secondly, there are brilliant, new, original ideas out there from brilliant and new original writers, just waiting to be made - and moneymen are refusing to take chances on them.

Since 2008, there aren't any risks to be taken with the box office - hence the recommissioning of films which made fortunes first time round.

Executives also smell money from the repackaging of foreign blockbusters on the basis that English speakers are too stupid and lazy to read subtitles ( they're right on the second count.) Witness the remakes of 'The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo' and a multiple Goya-winning film, Cell 211 - one of the best thrillers of the last five years, which just happens to be in Spanish.

If these remakes are better than the originals, or point audiences to the foreign language and historical originals, all well and good, but it's depressing to think of all the films not getting made because the budget's getting blown on Orlando Bloom's silly Jacobean hose.

"Pointbreak wasn't just a film, it was a zen meditation on manhood in the 20th century, and we hope to do the same with the young 21st!" an executive announced breathlessly, on this latest remake.

As far as I can see not much has changed with men since 1991, except Dave Grohl is now no longer just the drummer in Nirvana.

Lovers of 'Pointbreak' will agree that it's enough to make you fire bullets in the air in screaming frustration, watching the studios get away with it.