Under The Gun is continuing our efforts to bring you more original and engaging content with REASONABLE REMAKES. Written by film-nerd Justin Proper, this column aims to highlight Hollywood’s forgotten gems and spark debate.
You see, we’ve grown tired of Hollywood rehashing ideas we’re old enough to remember. Why remake something the majority of the planet still remembers and loves deeply when there are tons of films that deserve a chance to be as great as modern technology and skill can make them? If you agree, this column is for you.
I love westerns. Slow stories of gold and revenge told over desolate landscapes get me going. Unfortunately it’s 2012 and no one is really making them anymore. Sure, every once in a while we get a 3:10 To Yuma or a True Grit but even that movie got snubbed during last years Oscars, so clearly my love for these types of movies is not the mainstream opinion. So what can you do to make westerns popular again? How about put them in space. I think it is worth a shot, and what was Avatar if not just Dances With Wolves in space? With that in mind I tackled remaking The Good, The Bad And The Ugly by re-imagining it as a sci-fi movie.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (henceforth, just GBU) is the epic tale of three men doing all they can to secure some confederate gold in the middle of the civil war. You’ve got Blondie (Clint Eastwood), Tuco (Eli Wallach), and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef). While none of the men are particularly “good” they fit in to the roles as Blondie being “The Good”, Angel Eyes being “The Bad”, and Tuco being “The Ugly”.
Blondie and Tuco work together scamming towns out of reward money until they find out about a hidden cache of gold buried in a grave in the desert. Meanwhile, Angel Eyes also hears about the gold from another source and the hunt is on. Through interlocking stories of betrayal and double crossing the men eventually all arrive at the graveyard. This leads to the very famous three way mexican standoff that we all know. Blondie kills Angel Eyes and leaves Tuco in the desert with his share of gold, but no horse, and the movie ends.
So we have this famous western that everyone knows and loves. Why remake it? Turning it in to a science fiction movie helps bring it in to the modern age. I don’t know many people who will actually sit through an old western, regardless of how amazing it is. So we change the setting. Put it on an alien planet being fought over by two separate factions waring over it’s natural resources. Instead of a cache of confederate gold the three men can be searching for a data file they can sell to one of the sides for a large sum of money. With it being on a recently discovered alien planet we can still have that desolate desert look, but now we can mess with the colors a bit for a more memorable and dramatic backdrop. You can have the planet be “terraformed” or something so no one has to wear bulky space suits, and they could still have regular guns (let’s be realistic, laser blasters cool, but highly ridiculous). All of this sets us up for an awesome take on a classic western, but more modern and interesting.
We have our setting and our plot, now we need a good director. My first choice is Danny Boyle. His work on the movie Sunshine shows that he can handle a sci-fi movie with the delicate touch it needs. I really would love to see Boyle’s take on a classic western style movie. His version of the three way standoff at the end would be very tense, he’s proven before that he can build up suspense in the perfect way (28 Days Later). His last few films won him a lot of awards and I think he could bring the western back to the mainstream by making it a science fiction masterpiece.
Casting this remake is a very tough thing to do. You need actors that fit the theme and remind you enough of the old movie without feeling like it is just a copycat. For Blondie I think that Timothy Olyphant would be perfect. He is young, he has the western look, and if you have ever seen an episode of Justified you know he has the attitude. For Angel Eyes I would love Mads Mikkelsen. He is charming enough and still has that “bad guy” kind of look to him. He has not had many mainstream roles, and I would love to see him get some more spotlight. Tuco was the toughest to cast, but I eventually landed on Hugh Jackman. He is gritty and stout, and if you put a facial scar on him he could be “The Ugly” without being too ugly to drive people away.
I would love nothing more than to see westerns make a comeback. I really doubt that will happen, so I will take the next best thing: making western science fiction movies. With the right actors and a great director remaking The Good, The Bad And The Ugly could work extremely well on another planet sometime in the future. I’m sure some of you do not agree, so feel free to tell me why in the comment section below or send hate mail to the UTG Film twitter.
Justin Proper is voting for Nicolas Cage in the upcoming Michigan Republican Primary. You can follow him on twitter.