A Total Failure of Imagination
I've counseled patience on the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek, for instance.
I want to wait and see what that experience will bring...and hope it will be something wonderful. I'm heavily invested in Star Trek as a long-time fan, but if I were to choose between another Next Gen movie or J.J. Abrams vetting a Batman Begins-style re-boot, I'd be for the latter. Nemesis cured me of any delusion that the Next Gen movies were on anything approaching the right track.
I can't honestly tell you that Rob Zombie's Halloween was worse than Halloween: Resurrection, either. Even if I had problems with Zombie's re-interpretation of the classic Carpenter material.
I'm also open-minded about the Friday the 13th remake, and was favorably impressed by the trailer for the remake of Last House on the Left. I even liked the re-imagination of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a pure "scare" experience, if not as the stunning work of art that Tobe Hooper so artistically crafted.
See? I try not to pre-judge. But I don't always succeed.
Yes, yes I know the Sleestaks look just like they did on the 1970s show. I realize there's a clear attempt in the film's production design to maintain fidelity to the look and feel of the original series. But frankly, that's the wrong kind of "faithful." It's faithful only to be...jokey, to point out how fake and campy everything crafted in the 1970s looks to us today. It's smug superiority masquerading as "faithful."
As my snarky brother-in-law said to me over the Christmas holiday: how does it feel to see your dream turned into a nightmare?
It seems to me that the one reason to undertake a remake of a TV show or movie is to improve and update it. I love the original Land of the Lost, but the special effects are indeed dated and it is clearly designed "for children." There's nothing wrong with that. I'm just saying that a Land of the Lost movie -- a movie faithful to the spirit of original series but made for adults, could be an incredible thing.
Imagine the awe of seeing those dinosaurs for the first time on the big screen. Imagine the terror of first encountering updated Sleestak. Imagine Land of the Lost's environmental message (about various "tribes" getting along to take care of the planet), re-tooled for an age in which that message is really and truly important. I remember how Land of the Lost fed my childhood obsession with all things dinosaurs, and wonder if the new movie will have that same impact.
For all those reasons, a serious, adventurous, exciting and scary Land of the Lost movie -- along the lines of Jurassic Park -- could be a wondrous thing. The series offers a great premise, after all, and there are some great locations, creatures and characters to be mined.
But the best our slick pop-culture age can muster is a jokey Will Ferrell comedy.
A product that makes fun of the original show, and that plays Chaka, the Sleestak, the pocket universe...even the dinosaurs, for easy, cheap laughs. It's easier to mock something people have nostalgia for, I suppose, then go that extra mile and write a good, serious script, and shoot a believable fantasy adventure.
We've all heard that fanboy comment about our collective childhoods being raped by modern Hollywood. That's certainly an over-statement, but this Land of the Lost remake represents a total failure of the imagination on the conceptual level, a cheap shot for easy money. Am I pre-judging the movie? I guess I am: I'm saying that any movie called Land of the Lost shouldn't be a Will Ferrell Anchorman/Blades of Glory-style comedy. The movie may prove to be a very funny comedy, but that won't change the fact that the entire enterprise was conceived in cynicism.
Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost isn't going to rape my childhood this summer, but it certainly is..pillaging it.