As we all know, every movie that hits theaters is not the result of an entirely original idea. In fact, the vast majority of movies are adapted from something, whether it's a novel, a comic book, a television show, a biography, or anything else. One thing that happens on a fairly regular basis are movies that are adaptations of movies in other languages. That is the topic we'll be discussing for this week's Thursday Movie Picks hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves.
Normally, for these things I try to go with some hidden gems that you may take (ironic) pleasure in. Nope. I'm not going that way, today. Instead, as Wanderer allows us to do, I'm going to give you some of which you should absolutely steer clear. These are all American adaptations that fell flat on their faces. Do yourself a favor. Skip these duds, go check out the originals, and turn the subtitles on.
Adapted from 2003's A Tale of Two Sisters (Korean)A year or so after her mother died in a horrible fire, Anna (Emily Browning) comes home from the mental institution. Of course, she still has ghastly visions and nightmares, a whiny older sister (Arielle Kebbel) and dad's new girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), who happens to have been mom's former caretaker, appears to be...e-e-evil...muwahahahahaha...ahem...sorry. Where the Korean original is a disturbing film built on ever-increasing creepiness, this just plods along with a few interesting visuals and a poorly cast Elizabeth Banks as our psycho villain. She gives a cringe worthy performance. It's all the more painful considering that Jung-ah Yum is brilliant in the same role in A Tale of Two Sisters.
Adapted from 2003's Oldboy (Korean)Joe (Josh Brolin) is an alcoholic ad exec who wakes up from a night of getting hammered in a strange hotel room and no knowledge of how he got there. Instead of finding himself next to some hideous woman, he realizes his reality is far worse. He's locked in with no way out as there are no windows and only one door which he cannot get out of. Twenty years go when he's suddenly let out with no explanation. He then goes on a quest to find out who did this to him and exact his revenge. It makes the mistake of never really having us warm up to the hero, and then it pumps the brakes a bit where the original mashed the gas. In particular, it botches the ultra-disturbing finale of the Korean version by watering it down for American consumption. I don't think it's as terrible as some say, but it's not good, either. Anyone familiar with me knows how painful it is for me to say this because I am a huge fan of its director, Spike Lee. Unfortunately, Spike didn't pull this one off. That said, it is said to be a film that the studio heavily mettled in this one and cut the movie he had planned to shreds. There is said to be a much better three hour version of this film, that Lee and star Josh Brolin swear by. I'll probably never again bother with this truncated version, a little more than an hour and a half. However, since I am a fan of Lee, if that longer version ever sees the light of day I'll give it a shot.
(1998 AND 2014)
Adapted from 1954's Gojira (Japanese)Yes, I'm going there. Sadly, you've probably seen at least one of these, if not both. There's even a chance you like one of them. Sorry, but these are both terrible excuses for remakes,,.or reboots...or adaptations...or whatever. The original presented the titular monster as a metaphor for nuclear weapons and were clearly inspired by the atomic bombings the Japanese suffered at the end of World War II which, at that time, was less than a decade earlier. The two American versions are both soulless monster flicks that are still somehow short on thrills. One of them, the 1998 version, gave us too much Godzilla and couldn't even decide what size she was. I mean, she is as tall as a skyscraper, yet still can fit into a tunnel. The whole thing is of the 'so bad it's awesome' variety so I guess you might want to see it for that. The 2014 version gives us too little Godzilla, as in almost none in a movie that runs for over two hours. It couples that with a poorly written human driven drama to create a dull and tedious slog about people we don't like and a monster we almost never see and that does almost nothing.
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