Saturday, August 12, 2006


As I predicted, the new American remake of Pulse is a disaster. In short: Too much explanation, too much forced empathy for lousy characters, too few visual surprises. As I said, I don't think remakes have to be faithful to originals, but they should at least live up to the promise of originals. Here's why the new Pulse does not:

Original: Set in Tokyo. The unwitting protagonists get to the Tenement of Doom via bus.
Remake: Set in Columbus, Ohio, but apparently not filmed there. The unwitting protagonists get to the Tenement of Doom via a subway system, which Columbus doesn't have.

Original: What exactly the cyber-ghosties do to a person is completely vague throughout the film.
Remake: Within the first five minutes, we learn exactly what the cyber-ghosties do: Suck out your fuckin' soul! Yet these soul-suckers aren't half as cool as the one in Bubba Ho-Tep. Hey, Bubba tried to suck out JFK's soul through his asshole. Pulse's soul-suckers aren't hardcore enough for that--they just grip people's heads and suck from a distance.

Original: Clear enough on the theme of ambivalence toward technology. Computer and cell-phone use is incidental to the characters' jobs and personal lives; some characters struggle to get used to it.
Remake: The protagonists are all college students, and apparently they don't have jobs. Apart from partying and attending classes, they seem to do nothing but text-message, instant-message, make cell calls and browse the Internet. And the credit sequence is a dopey montage showing computer use, including a shot of someone typing in the URL "," which doesn't seem to be getting much use lately. In all, its intention seems to be to provoke this discussion among college students: "Wow, we use the Internet and cell phones so much." "Yeah. And how 'bout them chocolate-flavored condoms?" In a way the clumsy emphasis on theme reminds me of this year's Slither. It begins with a bunch of scenes in which various characters blather about evolution, not knowing that a hyper-evolved space creature is heading down to fuck them up. But that was funny and effective. This is just dumb.

Original: Not all the protagonists are tech wizards. One has to ask a woman for computer help! GASP!
Remake:All the kiddies seem to get it, and they IM in complete, grammatically impeccable sentences. LMAO at the timing.

Original: The scary parts are shocking and abrupt. Nobody ever seems to understand entirely what's happening or why.
Remake: The filmmakers douse the film in artificial dread. By the time something bad happens, the audience has been alerted about a jillion times over, with jarring music, gloom-drenched cinematography, and the characters' own explanations of events. Even so, it relies on shock. Once we've seen, several times over, just what happens when the soul-suckers approach, is it supposed to surprise us.

Original: Stunning suicide scene.
Remake: All the actual suicides happen off-screen; a news show helpfully announces a suicide epidemic.

And don't even get me started on the characters. The tedious, hackneyed, obnoxious characters...