sturgeonslawyer (sturgeonslawyer) wrote,

Seen: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do The Time Warp Again

This, like almost all Hollywood remakes, was completely unnecessary; and at the same time full of potential. The original RHPS was done on a microscopic $1.2M budget, and this had - well, many times that. It seems to have been spent mostly on sets; the SFX are still cheezy and cheap. As, perhaps, they should be.

Some of what is done right:

Many of the scenes/moments/routines are done with more, well, subtlety than the original - which is, let us be frank (oh, let's), about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

The whole thing is framed with an audience coming to a viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The audience is repeatedly shown doing and saying the things RHPS audiences do and say, so there's that little fan appreciation thing which I liked.

Like the original, it mostly features people I'd never heard of before, with four exceptions.

o Dr. Frank-n-Furter is played by Laverne Cox, best known for her role in Orange Is the New Black. It is, I suppose, curious and interesting having Frank played by a real life transsexual, but Cox lacks the same ambiguity Tim Curry lacked: where his Furter was unambiguously male, hers is unambiguously female, which takes away a bit of bite from the song "Sweet Transvestite."
o Eddie is played by Adam Lambert, a singer I respect more than I like. He does an excellent job, but the direction spoils his scene somewhat, and takes away Frank's concluding line.
o Dr. Scott (or should I say ... Doctor von Scott?) is played by Ben Vereen. He too does an excellent job, but it's a little hard taking him for the uncle of the extremely white Adam Lambert.
o And the Criminologist is played by Tim Curry. This is sad; Curry is confined to a wheelchair these days, and his delivery is slow and forced.

Of the other main characters, Columbia (Annaleigh Ashford), Magenta (Christina Milan), and Janet (Victoria Justice) are arguably better than than the originals. Riff Raff (Reeve Carney) lacks Richard O'Brien's amazing gawkiness and his sense of menace.

The one outstanding, unquestionably better-than-the-original actor, then, is Staz Nair, who plays Rocky with far more range than Peter Hinwood did; it was almost worth remaking the movie just for his performance.

But only almost.

The music is a muddled mess, with a few exceptions ("Science Fiction/Double Feature" and "I'm Coming Home" are the only ones that may top the originals). There was an opportunity to update it, and instead they went for a '50s feel that doesn't feel anything like the '50s.

Similarly, there was an opportunity to improve the direction, which, in the original, is merely adequate. In many places, directory Kenny Ortega chose to use a direct, shot by shot, homage/ripoff/copy of the original A more modern approach could have brought so much more to some of these scenes.

And the theatrical audience should have been used more or not at all.

And finally.

The original RHPS is, at this point, something of a guilty pleasure; it was (in its cheezy way) shocking in its day but tame now. The opportunity to bring back its shock value was there, even if it was FoxTV, and they took not one chance with it. And that is why it is not fit to stand with the original.
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