Cinematic Releases: Oldboy

Our review of Spike Lee's remake of Old boy is here. Read with caution.

"Goonies forever!"
I will get it out of the way right now—I’m not a huge fan of remakes. Very rarely do I think they improve on the original films and it always comes off as a cash grab to me. It is hard to review a remake as it own entity without constantly comparing it to the source material.  The original Oldboy is a Korean film by acclaimed director Chan-Wook Park and is generally considered outstanding by most movie connoisseurs. Spike Lee is at the helm of the American remake but unfortunately his version lacks the gracefulness and subtlety of the original.

The story centers around a man named Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) who is mysteriously imprisoned in a single room for twenty years for unknown reasons. It's an intriguing tale with many twists and turns and will keep you guessing until the very end.

"Damn straight. I got
the hot the other sisters
didn't get." 
Spike Lee stuck pretty closely to the script of the original while still modernizing it for American moviegoers.The main problem with the new version of Oldboy is how generic everything is. The cinematography is adequate, the score is alright, and the acting is merely okay. It doesn’t improve on anything from the original film or add anything new to the equation. Everything is condensed and choppy. We are not allowed to linger in any scene for too long which keeps the audience from becoming emotionally invested in the characters. It’s not a bad film, per se, but it lacks the punch and desperation needed to make an impact.

Spike Lee put in a few references from the original film in the remake. It was a nice nod to the fans, but at the same time it just made me wish I was watching the original instead.  I know there will be some people chiding me for comparing the remake to the original so much.  However, I feel like it comes with the territory. If you are going to remake a critically-acclaimed film, you damn well better have the chops to make some improvements to the original or don’t even bother.  I implore you, if you haven’t seen Oldboy--please watch the original movie first before watching this version.  You owe it to yourself to experience the best version of this incredible story.

-Review by Michelle Kisner