Today's entry may turn into something of rant. For today I wish to touch upon a very delicate, oft controversial topic.
I bring this up because today I discovered that they (the mysterious, amalgam Hollywood "They") are remaking Starship Troopers. This is on top of Total Recall (coming out 29th August in the UK) and RoboCop (no release date as of yet as far as I know). The first thing I noticed here is the disturbing trend - these are all Paul Verhoeven films. And the first thing I want to say here - Leave Paul Verhoeven alone!
Okay, so I'll admit, I'm actually conflicted. First off, the trailers for Total Recall look pretty damn cool. I'm a little disappointed by the fact that there won't be any mention at all of Mars as there was in the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger version because I'm quite fond of Mars as a planet and general sci-fi locale. But because of the lack of Mars, I'm intrigued as to what they're going to do with the film's plot. What is it that Doug Quaid has inside that head of his, eh? In the five seconds of that sentence I came up with a strange idea - are they going to go down a Prometheus-style route, have them discover (on Earth though) some kind of mysterious alien artefact that explains human existence or something like that? Or are they going to run away from that aspect of Total Recall (1990)?
From the look of the latest trailer though (kindly furnished by SFX magazine) it appears that, with the exception of Martian locales, Total Recall (2012) will be a straight up remake. Ish. Again, I'm conflicted. There are elements in the trailer that you can connect straight to the 1990 movie, but the sticking point for me is Mars. Without Mars, this should be an entirely different story. Also, they've cast Bill Nighy as Quato...or, well, the Quato-esque character as they appeared to have renamed him. Either way, Bill Nighy is in this film. I'm going to see it.
Next on the list of conflicted emotions about remakes is RoboCop. Now, the title of this blog is Sufficiently Cyberpunk. RoboCop is quite possibly one of the best existing examples of the cyberpunk genre in movies. It's a classic, a true product of the 1980s, where fear over escalations in the Cold War seemed to produce the perfect mindset for cyberpunk to arise - it was in this very decade that William Gibson wrote the iconic Sprawl Trilogy, the definitive starting point of cyberpunk, a vision of a decaying, dystopian future. A future everyone back then thought they were heading too.
Now the classic 1987 RoboCop wasn't 100% dystopia - okay, so Old Detroit, the movie's primary setting, was a crumbling, decaying cityscape that provided quite a beautifully gritty backdrop for the whole affair. No, the cyberpunk aspect that RoboCop elegantly captures is corporate greed and domination - represented perfectly by Omni Consumer Products and their Senior Vice President, Richard "Dick" Jones, wonderfully portrayed by Ronny Cox. If there was ever a definitive, vile corporate stooge villain, it's Dick Jones.
If the last two paragraphs haven't given it away yet, I love RoboCop. It's an incredible piece of cinema and like I've said, a brilliant, shining example of cyberpunk at work. Which is why I really, really want to say HELL FRAKKIN' NO to a remake. But from what I've read online about it, this isn't going to be a straight remake. It's apparently going to be set in the time between Alex Murphy being brutally murdered by Clarence Boddicker and his gang, taken to the hospital, then built into RoboCop. On some levels, this does sound intriguing - the director, José Padilha - has talked about exploring how OCP stripped Murphy of his humanity, thus turning him into RoboCop.
The other conflict - a similar one discussed about Total Recall (2012) - is casting. First off, we have Gary Oldman as an OCP scientist in charge of the project. This is good - we like Gary Oldman. Second and most conflicting is something of a casting rumour, but if it turns out to be true, I might be broken by this film.
Hugh Laurie as the villain.
Whether he plays it with his native British accent (Hollywood seems to love those British villains) or his gruff, American House accent, I will need to see this film. If the rumours are true. If Hugh Laurie is the villain...well, there's a Futurama meme going around, a picture of Fry, holding a fistful of dollars (yes, deliberate pun), with the words -"The Dark Knight Rises? Shut up and take my money". Confirmation of Hugh Laurie will result in a similar scene from me, substituting The Dark Knight Rises for, obviously, "Hugh Laurie in RoboCop".
It goes without saying that The Dark Knight Rises has already laid claim to my money.
Since I've only just discovered they're going to remake Starship Troopers, I feel no conflict. My precise feeling is "HELL FRAKKIN' NO". Starship Troopers is brilliant. As a kid, it was an exciting sci-fi action film where soldiers went around the galaxy killing massive bug-things. As an adult, it's a glorious satire of military fascism, which makes you giggle about the fact that, as a kid, you were totally rooting for a bunch of fascist, oppressive jerks.
Then some jackass went and made a second film. It was awful. All the satire was dropped. I haven't seen the third film. Not sure I want to. So this is the challenge to the poor unfortunate soul who has dared to even consider remaking Starship Troopers. If you leave out the satire, I don't care if you've faithfully decided to stick to the armoured exoskeletons used in Robert A. Heinlein's original novel. No satire, no monies for you. You got that? Good.
So, to sum up: Total Recall, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and watch you. RoboCop, cast Hugh Laurie and my money is yours. Starship Troopers...in the words of the Alan Rickman cut-away gag in Family Guy - "Do not disappoint me".