I’m going to stop referring to this as the US remake or the US “Old Boy” now that a director is attached. It’s Spike Lee‘s “Old Boy” now, penned by screenwriter Mark Protosevich. Mandate Pictures wants Josh Brolin to play the lead. This is vaguely comforting though. They don’t want Disney boys and they don’t want, say, Tom Cruise. They’re showing that they are dedicated to real acting talent by approaching an incredible actor with great range.
Regarding the script, Protosevich’s, according to Twitchfilm, is a mixture of elements of the manga, the Park Chan Wook film and his own original material. He’s been involved in the project since 2008, when Will Smith and Steven Spielberg were in talks.
Just as Park Chan-Wook took a central concept from the Japanese manga while radically re-envisioning parts to create something new, the goal here is not to create a slavish shot-for-shot remake but to take elements of the Park film combined with elements of the manga and completely re-envision and re-contextualize those to create a specifically American story around the same concepts and themes…We’re told roughly twenty percent of the Protosevich script is entirely new material.
Many remakes that go through big Hollywood Studios tend to want one thing, sure money from an established fan base. Sometimes this is okay, because the right people are hired. Gore Verbinski remaking “The Ring” was a great idea, “The Grudge” directed by Takashi Shimizu (director of the original) was not. Naivety seems to be informing big studios contentions that you can catch lightening in a bottle twice by attaching a director to remake his own film or any Tom-Dick-Harry to throw together a script. Logic seems to be informing big studios that opt for quality directors, screenwriters and actors to, not simply have an English-language film steeped in United States culture but, really look at the story and reimagine it. Can Spike Lee and Mark Protosevich do that?
I’m not so sure. I’m not a Spike Lee fan, as a filmmaker he’s hit or miss, as a person he seems to be all miss. While I enjoyed his films “Do the Right Thing” and “Inside Man”, I didn’t appreciate his adaptation of the David Benioff novel, “25th Hour”. Protosevich last wrote “Thor”, which worries me. “Thor” was okay in the blandest sense of the word and his script for “I am Legend” lost it’s quality once Will Smith found some friends. Hit or miss, but at least I know Spike Lee intends to make a great movie.
Two years or so ago I was livid at the very idea of remaking my precious “Old Boy”, I’m here now with, still, a sense of discomfort but a greater sense of interest. Because, at the end of the day, nothing can take the shine off of “Old Boy”, the banter and arguments will draw more attention to the original, and I believe the filmmakers intend to do right by the fans of the film and offer something of quality to filmmaking. Perhaps, I’m like this because no one is trying to get their hands on the real gem of the Vengeance Trilogy, “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.” (Or because all my anger is reserved for the live-action “Akira”) But I understand the anger still, I feel no desire to watch Matt Reeve’s remake of “Let the Right One In”, “Let Me In”, for example, and I role my eyes every time I see a commercial for the dvd release. But then, I laugh when I hear about A. R. Murugadoss’s, Bollywood remake of “Memento”, “Ghajini”. And I flip on BBC America to watch reruns of “Law and Order: UK” which is a rehashing of the original series. I don’t know if I’ll buy a ticket for Spike Lee’s “Old Boy” but I certainly less worried than I was before.
What about you guys? Hate it? Warming up to the idea? Or just indifferent?