I learnt today that Hollywood is planning to remake Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. And, in fact, there’s a remake of his Total Recall due next year (starring Kate Beckinsale and Colin Farrell). We all know of Hollywood’s recent penchant for remakes and reboots. It’s allegedly financially safer to trade on a known name than to try something new. The only person losing out in this strategy, of course, is us. Because we’ll see well-loved films completely ruined. Starship Troopers was a pitch-perfect satire of Heinlein’s right-wing novel, but who wants to bet the new version will keep the book’s odious politics intact? I will not go and see such a film; I will stay at home and watch my DVD of Verhoeven’s version again.
It might well be that the Starship Troopers remake isn’t so bad. But the odds are against it. Not only is there the online vocal hatred of Verhoeven’s film by conservative and libertarian sf fans (they’re totally wrong, of course), there’s also the US’s slow drift to the right over the past three decades, and… well, and there’s 2009’s Star Trek, a monumentally dumb sf film. And there was 2008’s The Day The Earth Stood Still. And this year’s The Thing. And… need I go on? This is what reboots do: they put the boot into well-loved and well-regarded films.
To be honest, I gave up on Hollywood’s output years ago. The best films these days are made elsewhere. And that’s not just genre films. But then, Hollywood chases that 15 – 25 male demographic and, let’s face it, focusing on the stupidest sector of society is not going to be good for your creativity. The superhero tentpole blockbuster is a case in point. Such films are all spectacle – they are like their titular heroes, all pumped-up muscles and no brains.
The best sf film I have seen in recent years, Cargo, was made in Switzerland. The only time I visited the cinema this year was to see Apollo 18, an independent Russo-American production. The bulk of my DVD viewing in 2011 has been foreign-language films, and 1950s and 1960s Hollywood films (made long before the rot set in). I’m planning to see John Carter next year, which has been produced by Disney, but I suspect that will be the last Hollywood film I go to the cinema to see. Given that the success of films is judged by their cinema takings, that seems a sensible way to express my disappointment and displeasure at Hollywood’s output.