It seems like every day brings ever more remake announcements. The entire internet is frothing at the mouth with ongoing discussions about childhoods being metaphorically raped and the point of it all. Most notable this week was the outcry when it was reported that Robert Zemeckis and Disney are in negotiations about a 3-D motion-capture animated version of “Yellow Submarine.” It’s not like there’s anything sacred about “Yellow Submarine,” a perfectly fun movie with lots of cool visuals, bad puns and surrealist logic. How could it be tarnished with a remake that ups the eye candy factor? The director of “Back To The Future” doesn’t get comedy? C’mon.
And if you think “Yellow Submarine” is untouchable, perhaps you’d like to exchange a few words with John Boorman about his upcoming animated remake of “The Wizard of Oz.” Boorman cheerfully admits he finds the original movie “very clunky.” He’s going to rectify that with an animated version in which Toto talks. Also, he plans to answer the question of why Dorothy is “so anxious to get back to this ghastly place, Kansas.” Take that, heartland platitudes! You have to admire Boorman’s chutzpah, which will endear him to no one not in love with perverse endeavors. As long as nobody touches Walter Murch’s deliriously messed-up, untoppable “Return To Oz,” I’m cool with it all.
In karmic return for potentially desecrating a movie beloved by millions, Boorman will just have to sit back and watch as Bryan Singer tries to remake 1981’s “Excalibur.” Boorman’s fondly remembered King Arthur hit is less infamously nutty than his earlier “Zardoz,” but it’s still idiosyncratic enough to make you wonder why Singer would bother. Singer’s a good company man when it comes to efficient blockbusters — at least around the time of “X2,” not so much on “Superman Returns.” Why someone thought Singer’s potential for overwrought portentousness should be married to Boorman’s own penchant for the over-the-top is unclear, but hey: it’s been five whole years since Antoine Fuqua’s “King Arthur” flopped! Time to try again!
I assume Singer’s Arthur will be just as moody as Superman, just as coded a metaphor for gay outcasts as the X-Men and just as inadvertently silly as pretty much every Camelot movie ever made. There’s a long history of Arthurian movies flopping, because they’re inevitably so silly and cliche-ridden (in his review of 1995’s long-forgotten “First Knight,” Anthony Lane mocked the usual “peasant” dialogue: “I tell you, there’ll be some feasting today!”). It seems unlikely this movie will actually get made; it’s too expensive and too senseless for even the dimmest studio exec. But “Yellow Submarine”? I’m totally rooting for that.
[Photo: Oh my. “The Wizard of Oz,” MGM, 1939]