Saturday, July 4, 2015

Michael Bay's "The Birds"

I’m a member of a pretty stupid horror group on Facebook.  I don’t know why I’m still a member there.  I probably just don’t think very much of myself as a person.

Anyway, there was a recent post where someone was talking about the news of the remake of The Birds.  It went something like this: “ZOMG Michael Bay is remaking The Birds.  I bet there will be exploding birds.  LOL.  Why do they keep ruining such great movies.  My childhood is ruined and I hate everything.”  I did a quick Google search for “Michael Bay Birds Remake”, and there are hundreds of scorching hot takes, all basically saying the same thing.  “This is bad.  That’s bad.  Everything is bad.  Michael Bay is bad.  Explosions.”  And so on.  So I thought I would offer my take, even if the news is a few months old by this point.

I am no Michael Bay apologist.  He made some movies I legitimately enjoyed (Bad BoysThe RockThe Island and the first Transformers movie, mainly), but he has his share of terrible movies as well (Pearl HarborArmageddon, every Transformers movie after the first one and probably Pain & Gain, though I refuse to watch it).

My personal feelings about the movies he has directed don’t really matter, though.  He’s not directing this movie.  His production company – Platinum Dunes – is producing it.  There is a big difference between “Michael Bay is directing this movie” and “Michael Bay is producing this movie.”  In fact, you could just leave Michael Bay completely out of the discussion; that’s how little his directing history has anything to do with this.
Here is a list of movies Platinum Dunes has produced, along with a few thoughts I have on them.

2003 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Remake)
It has a completely different feel from the original, but I think that helps it.  I really like this.  It’s not a great movie, but it’s a pretty fun movie.  

2005 – The Amityville Horror (Remake)
One of my favorite remakes.  I enjoyed this version better than the original.  Ryan Reynolds is fantastic.

2006 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
I don’t know that I would slap the “fun” label on this, but I like it pretty well.  Some familiar faces (mainly Jordana Brewster and Matt Bomer) certainly don’t hurt.  I didn’t really need to see the origin of Leatherface (especially a Leatherface that is nastier than he is in the original), but it didn’t bother me.  There were some moments in this that made me squirm.

2007 – The Hitcher (Remake)
Haven’t seen this one, but it’s on my list.  For Sean Bean and Neal McDonough if nothing else.

2009 – The Unborn
Fun fact: my brother snuck me into the theater to see this movie, as it had sold out before I got there.  I hated this when I first saw it, but it has grown on me over the years.  That’s due to the laughable dialog more than anything else.  I quote this movie way more than I should.

2009 – Friday the 13th (Remake?  Sequel?  Reboot?)
A perfectly fine little slasher.  I really liked their attempt to tie it in with the original series.  That was a nice touch.  I’ve seen this movie quite a few times, yet I have a hard time remembering exactly what happens.  Not a bad movie, but far from a great one.

2009 – Horsemen
Haven’t seen it.  I’ve heard good things, though.

2010 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (Remake)
I don’t understand the hate for this movie.  I guess Robert Englund is so closely associated with Freddy Krueger that putting someone else in the role was never going to be well-received.  I liked how it skewed darker, especially given how comical the Nightmare on Elm Street series got as it progressed (New Nightmare being the exception).  I liked this movie.

2013 – The Purge
Love the concept.  Hated the family this centered on.  They made terrible decisions and I honestly didn’t care if they survived the night.

2014 – The Purge: Anarchy
Better than the first one, in that we get to see more of what happens during Purge Night, but it still falls victim to the “no characters to love” problem.  There wasn’t enough carnage to overlook the fact that the characters were all awful (Frank Grillo’s rugged handsomeness notwithstanding).

2014 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Pretty terrible, but this movie was not made for me.  It was made for children.  And, judging by the theater I was in, it seemed to go over pretty well with that group.  (I will say that I absolutely loved the little scene of Will Arnett eating a sandwich with mustard and Parmesan cheese.  They should call that thing a G.O.B., guy.)

2014 – Ouija
Haven’t seen it.  I may see it at some point, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet.  By all accounts, it’s a perfectly fine starter horror flick for teenagers.

2015 – Project Almanac
Haven’t seen it.  Haven’t talked to anyone who has seen it.  The trailer made it look awful, but I really have no read on this.

That’s not a bad list.  Not a single movie on that list makes me mad that it exists.  One that I love, a couple that are not very good, and the rest sit right around replacement level horror (or slightly above).

So relax.  Michael Bay is not going to ruin The Birds, mainly because he’s not going to have anything to do with it other than helping to fund it.  If the mere idea of The Birds getting remade makes you angry, just don’t go see it.  Show your support (or lack of support) through your money.
If The Birds is bad, you’ll have to find someone other than Michael Bay to blame for it.  I understand that he’s easy to make fun of, but all I’ve seen so far are the same lazy jokes.  And they don’t even apply here.

The Birds probably doesn’t need to be remade, but I could say that about a great many of movies that have been remade.  Some of them are good.  Some of them are bad.  Not a single one of them has ruined the original for me. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we’re living in a great era for horror.  There are great independent horror movies being released through VOD all the time.  The “direct-to-video” label is no longer a curse.  Find something you love and support it in any way you can.

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