I’ve been fascinated with dystopian stories ever since I read 1984 and “Brave New World.” No one wants to hear about the perfect future, they want to hear about the worst case scenario. That’s why the Matrix and Terminator were so popular. Even Pixar covered the subject. We like our darkness.
If it's a particularly slow day, you could even stitch some of these stories together, since many of them seem to have similar threads (for example, after Skynet took over and the machines evolved enough, you've gone from Terminator to Matrix). Some of them are older movies. Some are so old that you can find them. Online. For free! FREE! The future is NOW, people!
I googled “Soylent Green” and through I read the wikipedia entry that gave away the big secret, I decided to sit down and watch it. Sure, the quality sucked, but let me remind you that it was FREE. Free! And we all know you get what you pay for.
The movie starts with a montage of all of the innovations that humans brought to the earth. Then it descends into displaying the bad—you know, the smog, the overpopulation—well, you know, pretty much what we see every day.
The plot of the movie is actually pretty good. The execution? Wellll…not so much. There are futuristic movies that can sometimes stay pretty timeless, but many of them end up being betrayed by dated looking sets, clothing, and yes, soundtracks. This one was chock full of dated-ness. Clunky TV’s with tiny monitors (even “Brazil” got it right with the flat panel concept). Kitchens with late 60’s era appliances. First of all, if we don’t have Jetson-like cooking capabilities in the future, then forget it. I want no parts of that. Funky music and women who just hang around because they’re pretty and play no real part in the story (again, I want no parts of that). And Charlton Heston! With guns(!) No, no, not laser guns, just guns, period. With plain old bullets. What is this, the old west? Snoooze. This is also a future without real food. In fact that is the entire point of the story (let me repeat, I want no parts of that). The “food” was in the form of “Soylent Green”, which was explained to be some kind of wafer made from plankton. Sounds harmless, right?
The big twist is that those little green felt like snack wafers were recycled dead people (this was also done in the Matrix, except it was a lot wetter, redder and it involved less processing). Our hero stows away in a dump truck that takes the bodies away, which leads to a sequence of conveyor belts transporting human shaped objects, covered in sheets, and ends in those lovely little green square wafers. (EPIPHANY ALERT!) The oceans are dying! These wafers aint made from sea creatures! Overpopulation and hunger are solved in one neat little process (!)
If this movie is remade, you know that factory sequence will be a lot more explicit. We have the special effects technology that can effectively burn an image into your head in just seconds. It’s the same horror you felt when the alien popped out of that dude’s abdomen. It’s the shock factor from the bathroom scene in “Dreamcatcher.” We have been too desensitized to be stunned by a concept. In the updated “Soylent Green” we would be treated to no less than a half hour of the hero watching every single step of the manufacturing process.
In the remake:
The dead people would not be covered in sheets.
I believe there would be a few tenderizers involved.
We would see some kind of vat o' chemicals at some point.
There might be some kind of heavy rolling device, kind of like the thing that presses dough into lasagna noodles.
Finally, the giant sheet of corpse rollups would have to be dried and cut.
The line "I eat dead people!" may or may not make it into the movie, it depending on how whimsical the director feels the day the scene is edited.
Anyway, you get it. Most newer movies don’t let you fill in the blanks. They give you every single step in the process so there’s nothing left to the imagination, so while the old movie needs updating, the newer version may not necessarily be an improvement.
(and what do you know, I guess someone really is working on it.)