I am sitting in the cinema watching the remake. The original hasn’t been released yet. In a bizarre twist of marketing, that idea has been working out really well for films these days.
‘You’ve seen the remake, now see the original.’
It’s a great tagline but I do think it should be mandatory that the original is at least made before the remake. In the film I’m watching they were made simultaneously. It makes sense. It’s cheaper. Two movies for the price of one. You use the same set twice. It’s just a different set of actors. You can see how that could go badly wrong and in fact it allegedly has.
The actress playing the main character in the original is accidentally in a scene in this movie-as her character in the original-instead of the lead actress in the remake who should be in the scene. It’s confusing. But think it through. It’s been sold as an ‘in-joke’ to all the fans. The ones who haven’t seen either the remake or the original yet because I am at the pre opening screening for critics. Yet somehow in this twisted world, they are still fans because they have watched the preview and ‘liked’ it. Now the release of the remake is anticipated, followed by the original-which somehow is where we are now. Confused.
I am reviewing the remake. I am a film critic. One of the last human ones left.
Is it hard to review a remake without seeing the original? Yes! This way around is never easy.
But there’s another issue. I haven’t seen the original at all, but the bot-crits around me kind of have. Bot-crits is what we call the robots who also ‘write’ reviews that are sitting across from me. Films are stored as data files. The bot-crits will have the original and the remake as a data file. They can just compare two sets of data and review it. I have a data file of the original (which is not out yet) so I can do a review. But I can’t read it and compare it like they do. I need to get my device to sort it and put it into a watchable form. Puts me in last position already. In the meantime their reviews will already be out.
Their audience is different to mine. I tell myself that and there is some truth in it. Some people like to read reviews written by humans. But I will have to fess up that the original I have seen is taken from a datafile and not an original cinematic experience. Regulations. Welcome to the Critics Institute regulations. Not sure who’s side they are on. I will probably watch the original on my device on the way home. The actual original in a viewable format is not due for cinema release for awhile. They will probably see how the remake goes first. If it is released, I will have to review the original when it arrives in the cinema, which is much, much harder when you have seen the remake. It’s a very dodgy practice.
Technically most of the bot-crits sitting across from me aren’t even watching it. The Critics Institute has a rule that where possible, even bots reviewing films must come to the critics screening. Regulations again. This at least gives us humans a fighting chance. Allegedly. Well sort of. Their reviews will be pretty much the same, an analysis of two sets of data files. A comparison of data and you can get a full set of actual comparative date if you want, everything from the differences in time when a scene was shot to the volume of the actress speaking.
A lot of people base their viewing on that kind of technical analysis. You hear them saying ridiculous things, like, ‘it was so noticeable that the actress spoke louder in the remake’ and ‘the colour was so much stronger in that scene’ and other ridiculous points that have nothing to do with whether they actually enjoyed the film. They are just comparing bits of data, not the actual movie. There are whole websites devoted to finding points that the bot-crits didn’t manage to spot. Most of these are imagined as well. It’s more like newspaper astrology than anything. ‘Ooh her dress was a shade greener’ and the computer didn’t pick it up. No it’s just that your brain is a shade dimmer. I hate what film has become. But I like films. I am clinging to the past, telling myself this is a phase. It will pass. People will become sane again. I know I am wrong.
Its not like a critics screening used to be. There are probably 30 seats in this cinema. 5 seats for humans and 25 for bot-crits. I am the only human here. The human seats are off to the side. Not the best view. Its for our own safety. Bot-crits emit a lot of heat. Someone got burned. She got burned badly. She never returned to the industry. So now we are segregated, separated. There is a heavy duty sprinkler system above me so that I can be saved in the event of a fire. It has happened, not to me but to others. The bots tend to have their own inbuilt sprinkler system.
It doesn’t really matter, their work is going straight into the cloud, if they sizzle out, no one cares. The magazine just buys another one. I on the other hand, will be in the burns unit. I can see some of the bot-crits don’t even have visual equipment to watch a movie so they are just here because of the regulations. Legally they can’t release their review until the credits have finished. Another regulation. It has shortened the amount of credits at the end though. 10 seconds max now. It’s fast and they are illegible but it is over quickly.
They complain a lot about the regulations and I am sure that one day the regulations will go and I will no longer be needed. I used to enjoy the camaraderie of critics screenings. Now I dread the heat that is generated by the 25 bots sitting across from me. There is a constant array of lights flashing as they perform different functions while they sit through this. They answer messages and take pictures of themselves. There is a constant low hum as they are all running on their batteries although I can see a fluorescent power cord plugged into something at the front.
I have dark glasses on-in the darkness as it minimises the interference from what they are doing although it means I can barely make out the screen. I have ear plugs in-it’s not a foreign film-but in another sort of victory for human film critics, the noise levels from the bots are such that sub titles are also a regulation. It’s health and safety. If I don’t wear ear plugs in five years time I would be deaf from the low frequency humming that 25 bots can emit.
I wonder why I bother. I am a relic. This is the future. I am simply the past. I squint at the screen and try to make sense of it all.