Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted from Movies of Another Language


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.


The Uninvited
(2009)
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.


Oldboy
(2013)
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.


Godzilla
(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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34 comments:

  1. I haven't seen the remake of Oldboy nor the recent version of Godzilla as I'm not interested in either of those. The Uninvited is just lame as it only makes me wonder what the original film did which was so much better. Rarely there's a good remake of an original foreign film. For example, The Sorcerer which was a remake of Wages of Fear which is probably one of those rare remakes that is as good as the original.

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    1. I highly recommend A Tale of Two Sisters. It is a far superior movie. I would live to see what you think of it. There are some good American remakes of foreign flicks like The Departed and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. However, we botch it more often than not.

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  2. I gave the 2014 adaptation a break since the 1998 version was so awful! The 2014 movie did lack a lot of the titular character. Haven't seen your first two picks (both adaptation and originals), though I should really have watched Oldboy (2003) by now. Good picks!

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    1. The 2014 Godzilla got lots of love which I will never understand. Please, please, please see the '03 version of Oldboy.

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  3. I forgot about Godzilla! Probably for the best. I enjoyed it at the time, but it was in IMAX and I very quickly forgot all about it.
    - Allie

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    1. I feel bad you spent extra money for IMAX just to get a few quick glimpses of creature the movie is named after.

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  4. Nice! I also picked Oldboy as one you should completely avoid. I agree the 90's Godzilla was terrible, but I liked the 2014 version, and I didn't mind the Uninvited either because of Emily Browning. I just love her, even though she picks shit movies a bit too often.

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    1. Cool. Lots of people like 2014 Godzilla. I don't get it. I'm rather indifferent towards Browning and The Uninvited didn't help.

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  5. I've seen A Tale of Two Sisters and I loved it. I'm not sure I want to watch The Uninvited after reading this. I also picked Oldboy, but for me it was awful. It's hard to believe Spike Lee directed it.

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    1. Don't bother with The Uninvited. And Spike immediately distanced himself from Oldboy when it came out.

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  6. Oh good heavens Godzilla! I saw the original when I was a kid on some UHF channel or another after school and while I wasn't mad for it it was head and tails over that horrendous pile in the 90's, I had zero desire to see the latest. I was so disappointed in The Uninvited and Elizabeth Banks in it, I usually love her but she was so off. Haven't seen any version of Oldboy, it doesn't look like my thing.

    There is a trove of these to pick from, I tried to go for some more obscure choice except for my bonus:

    Sorcerer (1977)-Four desperate men agree to transport a volatile shipment of nitro-glycerin over rugged terrain in the hopes of earning enough money to escape their present state. William Friedkin directed remake of the French classic Wages of Fear wasn’t a big success on its initial release but is a taut gritty drama. An international cast headed by Roy Scheider give intense performances. Perhaps not the equal of the original but on its own a solid suspenser.

    Human Desire (1954)-Fritz Lang helmed redo of Jean Renoir’s La BĂȘte Humaine is hampered a trifle by the Hayes Code but his great cast, in particular Broderick Crawford and Gloria Grahame, and solid direction fill in the code demanded blanks. Loaded with sexual undertones.

    Intermezzo (1939)-American remake of identically named Swedish film also starring Ingrid Bergman served as her introduction to Hollywood. A world famous concert violinist becomes enamored with his daughter’s piano instructor. Feeling restless he invites her to tour with him, eventually they become involved and he leaves his family for her but soon realizes what he had originally. It’s a weepie loaded with beautiful music that’s worth catching for Ingrid’s stateside debut.

    Honorable Mention-Point of No Return (1993)-Stylish, glossy remake of Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita with Bridget Fonda at the height of her brief heyday as the druggie turned government assassin. Not quite as sleek as the original but a propulsive engrossing thriller with Anne Bancroft a standout in her brief role as an etiquette teacher with an underlying fierceness.

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    1. I have seen Point of No Return a few times. Really enjoy it. Haven't watched any of the others. I will probably go after Human Desire first simply due to the fact it's directed by Fritz Lang. Thanks!

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    2. Oh if you like Lang, and who doesn't!, I'd recommend his other collaboration with Ford and Gloria Grahame from the previous year to this, The Big Heat, if you haven't already seen it. It's one of my all time favorite noirs. His Scarlet Street and Woman in the Window are also terrific films.

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    3. Of those, I have seen Scarlet Street. I really loved it. Shame it is such an overlooked film.

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  7. I guilty pleasure love BOTH of the Godzilla flicks!

    And I love Tale of Two Sisters...so maybe I should...nevermind...LOL poor Elizabeth Banks.

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    1. I can do that with the '98 version because it's so guilty. The newer is just boring so I can't.

      If you love A Tale of Two Sisters, you should just leave it at that.

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  8. Nice post Dell! You know I feel like the Old Boy remake should have never been made. There were so many problems in that movie. I'm not sure who thought that an American remake was a good idea. However, like you noted I have heard of studios doing so much meddling that the film gets trashed. Perhaps that's what happened.

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    1. I didn't think it needed to be made, either. No idea who thought it could be anything more than a small niche film simply based on the content. It is inherently too bizarre to be a mainstream U.S. hit. Trying to make it one is what I imagine the studio was trying to do by putting their hands all over it. That's basically the sentiment of both Lee and Brolin and it makes sense to believe them.

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    2. On an entirely separate topic, I just read your comment about David Bowie and a 13 year old groupie (among the "baby groupies" as they called them). I'm reading up on this topic. I had no idea. If that's true, that's horrific. I just removed my Bowie tribute from my page. I'm going to have to read up on this topic. Geez. Every time I love an artist it turns out they've done something terrible!

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    3. I just heard about it recently, myself. It's something I am still trying to wrap my head around, also.

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  9. Dude. I fucking loved the 1998 Godzilla. But I was 14 years old and haven't seen it since. Haha! And the remake of Oldboy intrigued me, as I had seen the original (which is pretty badass). The bad reviews deterred me and your luke warm-ness isn't helping that much. I do appreciate Spike Lee as well, though, so I may have to take a run at it at some point.

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    1. '98 Godzilla is definitely the type of movie that 14 year olds would love, lol. I think you can skip the Oldboy remake.

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  10. To second the suggestions above, Lang's Big Heat and Human Desire are really great and would make a good double feature, check those out. I've always been curious about Oldboy '03 so this pushes me to see it soon.

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    1. I definitely want to see the two Lang flicks. And Oldboy, the '03 version, is one of my all time faves.

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  11. UGH the 1998 Godzilla. I liked the 2014 version though, once Godzilla made his appearance.

    The Korean version of Oldboy has been sitting in my Netflix queue FOREVER. I'll get to it someday and depending on how much I like it I may still see Spike Lee's version, if only for Josh Brolin.

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    1. I hope you get to Oldboy soon. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

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  12. I have a soft spot for the original Godzilla. The 2nd one is bad but I still watch it because it is so stupid. Still haven't seen the latest remake. I haven't seen Oldboy but wanted to-sounds like I didn't miss much. The Uninvited sounds good but maybe I will wait to see the original

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    1. That's the only reason to watch the '98 version. Skip the Oldboy remake. And if The Uninvited still sounds good then I have failed at my job.

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  13. I saw the first one when I was way too young to understand that it was a metaphor for the nuclear tragedy Japan suffered at the end of World War II. I found it mildly entertaining. A big-ass reptile terrorizing a city. It was way more interesting than anything that was on TV in those days.

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    1. Same here. It was years later when I found that out. On the other hand, I grew up on all the cheesy sequels that were churned out. Used to love those. Who am I kidding? Still do.

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  14. Another for Godzilla! I've seen the remake of Oldboy. It didn't agree with me. Everyone was hounding me to watch the original to a point where I wanted to yell at them so I watched the remake. Not a great film.

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    1. Sorry, you've only seen the Oldboy remake. I hope that doesn't totally turn you off from seeing the original.

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  15. The Uninvited - it's the only one on your list I've seen both original and remake. The original is not a favourite of mine but it is certainly better than the remake.

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    1. That's not saying much as The Uninvited is terrible, but I'll take it.

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