I did not finish watching Fox's remake of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" tonight. I stuck with it up through Adam Lambert's version of "Hot Patootie", but I knew I was going to turn it off and go back to work a good 10 minutes earlier. I was just waiting for my coffee to finish brewing.
I didn't hate it and I won't hurl insults at it, and Fox TV gets props for trying to rattle the broadcasting cage. At least they knew the relative value of the idea - this didn't need to be a big-budget reboot with a cast of super stars that would have flopped horribly in theaters. Instead it was a lower-priced TV rehash that probably got decent ratings.
My take on this boils down to two things: First, if you're going to do a remake, have a reason to make it better - don't constantly call back to the original. Second, good old fashioned film making is always the best way to go. If you aren't doing that, you're wasting time.
To the first point, the remake spent so much of its time referencing the original film, including the shots of the audience participation, that it shoots itself in the foot. The original was better, and the references just made me wish I was watching that instead.
As for the second point, I'm going to indulge a bit: The original film, despite being low-budget, was still a 20th Century Fox FILM Studio production. This was the studio that brought us The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Sound Of Music, Planet Of The Apes, MASH, and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, just to name a very few. They knew quality.
The film was made in England, and the old-school technical talent was flawless, with brilliant cinematography by Peter Suschitzky, who would later go on to shoot The Empire Strikes Back. The props and sets were "real", with much of the filming taking place at Oakley Court, a grand old estate where many Hammer Horror films had been made.
But beyond all that, the original was classically made, in that it had master shots and coverage, a moving camera, didn't cut unless it needed to, and used shots for effect - a close up to emphasize a line or reaction, a cutaway to establish a location or tone, edits for humor. The new version had NONE of that. It was shallow, lit very flat with no contrast, and edited together from a series of dull shots that had no precision or clean direction.
All that aside, the original just oozes with passion and hard work. The original shoot was tough, with long hours and hard working conditions, but everyone gave it their all. They cared. And they played it straight, even when Frankie looked right into the camera and shattered the fourth wall.
If you've never seen the '75 version of Rocky, I suggest you watch it at home without an audience so you can appreciate what a ground-breaking piece of work it really is. Some of it may fall flat without the participation, but much of it stands, and it is still a complete original.
Nice try, Fox TV. Maybe a live broadcast of RENT is more to your taste?