Is There Such A Thing As A Good Movie Remake?

Is There Such A Thing As A Good Movie Remake?

For those who haven’t heard, Hollywood has recently seen fit to remake the classic 1987 action movie Robocop. Original director Paul Verhoeven had no involvement and the whole thing appears to have little resemblance to the original flick. Originally slated to hit theaters last month, the movie has been pushed all the way back to February 2014 which rarely bodes well. It’s the latest in a long line of movie remakes that are usually vastly inferior to the original. But are there any remakes that are actually any good? Discuss…

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The original Robocop was a brilliantly shlocky sci-fi film that made headlines for its balls-to-the-wall violence. It was also notable for its satirical take on the media, privatization and moral decay, making it a hit with brainy cinema buffs and bogan action fans alike. The new movie appears to have swept most of these themes under the carpet. The studio has also plumped for a PG-13 rating which means virtually all of the elements that made Robocop special have been stripped away. You can check out the latest trailer for yourself below:

Maybe we’re being too hasty. Perhaps we’ll all be pleasantly surprised and the shiny new Robocop will deliver on all of its promises. With that being said, the history of remakes suggests we’re probably right to prejudge it.

In recent years, we’ve had to suffer through a seemingly endless deluge of dodgy reboots as a creatively-dead Hollywood returns to the well, over and over again. Some of the worst offenders include Total Recall, The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre, Death At A Funeral, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Straw Dogs, Clash Of The Titans, Death Race, Conan The Barbarian, The Omen and Planet Of The Apes [note: we’re referring to the Tim Burton version — the 2011 version is actually a prequel and is worth checking out].

And then there was the Nicolas Cage-starring remake of the 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man which frankly defies all description. Check out the below highlight reel for a taste of the gibbering insanity. It’s not intended to be a comedy. No really.

In addition to Robocop 2.0, we also have remakes of Carrie, Gremlins, All Quiet On The Western Front, The Black Hole The Crow, Godzilla (again), The Wild Bunch, Old Boy and The Never Ending Story to look forward to. Is absolutely nothing sacred?

The cynic in us thinks it will only be a matter of time before we get a remake of Jaws — with a completely CGI shark, natch. They’ll probably give the Hooper role to Katy Perry and get Nickelback to do the end-credits soundtrack. Just thinking about it gives us nightmares.

But anyway, all these terrible movies got us wondering about the good-to-bad ratio when it comes to remakes. Are there any examples that are halfway decent or — god forbid — actually better than the original? Off the top of our heads, the only examples we can think of are John Carpenter’s The Thing (which amusingly has since been re-remade badly), David Cronenberg’s The Fly and Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (although the last one is treating the term ‘remake’ very loosely).

To help lift us out of our reboot malaise, list your favourite movie remakes in the comments section below. (Note: we’re only interested in titles that you’ve actually seen, so no scouring movie sites for suggestions.)

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  • Dredd was great.
    Can people stop replying to my comment now? I get it, I am wrong to have an opinion on a movie

    • Well, Dredd wasn’t really a remake — that’s like saying Batman Begins is a remake of the campy 1960s Batman movies. They’re just using the same comic book property.

    • As a LOOOOOOOOONG time 2000AD comic reader no it wasn’t (i did like the fan service tho)
      But as a remake/re-imagining compared to stallone’s steaming pile, it was a great movie.

      • Yeah, still fell a long way short of the comic, but a lot better than the Stallone version.
        I was surprised they used Keith ‘Little Chin” Urban for a character that has such a strong jaw and chin, and I felt they didn’t utilise Lena Headey enough in the film.

  • I never actually saw Seven Samurai – but Magnificent Seven was pretty good. The US remake of Let The Right One In was pretty good, too.

  • I have a lot of respect for Joel Kinnaman’s acting chops, but whether he’ll get the chance to exercise them much in a Robocop film is another matter. Perhaps in a world that’s seen rebooted Cylons, there’s a chance.

    Speaking of US/Swedish hybrids, the remake of “Let the Right One In” was pretty good.

    • I was just about to post this.

      I still can’t get over the fact that Raimi directed that awful emo-Spiderman movie though.

      And for those who aren’t familiar with Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 is a bigger budget remake of The Evil Dead, also written and directed by Sam Raimi, but for a tiny budget of $365,000 (he was given about $3.6 million to do Evil Dead 2 five years later).

  • Scarface. The Manchurian Candidate. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Magnificent Seven. Let Me In. Casino Royale (although the original is a little..different). True Grit. The Hills Have Eyes. Heat. The Departed. Cape Fear. The Mummy. Twelve Monkeys. Vanilla Sky. Insomnia. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The RIng.

    Im sure there are more.

      • I don’t know that I found it so much as ‘bad’, just… Well, considering the original is probably my favourite movie of all time, it had a lot to live up to.

  • I actually didn’t mind the remake of Clash of the Titans. I was a fan of the original movie, and I liked what they did with the new one. Medusa didn’t get enough screen time though.

    I’ve heard rumbling of a remake of Starship Troopers, although it’s not a remake of the 90’s movie, it’s supposed to be closer to the original novel.

    This is also the case with The Neverending Story. It’s not actually a remake of the classic movie, it’s another attempt at it to stick closer to the original novel. The 80’s movie deviated so far from the novel that the novel’s author tried to sue toe movie studio and when that didn’t work, demanded his name be taken off the credits, which they complied with.

  • The American Dragon Tattoo was much better than the first adaptation, and I’m saying this as someone who’s read the first one in Swedish and its eventual translation. Excluding the Harriet ending, the American version was far more explicit and horrifying. While I love Noomi Rapace, she was a poor choice for Salander. Rapace is a very healthy-looking, beautiful 30 year old woman that no-one would ever mistake for an androgynous, stick thin teenager with wild eyes.

    On good remakes? I’d argue that Star Trek Into Darkness was basically Wrath of Khan remade. It wasn’t as good (imo), but it was still an exciting, great blockbuster. I’d also throw in the recent True Grit, The Departed and The Fly.

  • I really enjoyed the 3:10 to Yuma remake, which is a big call considering my fond memories of watching the original with my Dad when I was young.

  • Could you imagine if they ever tried to remake something like Citizen Kane? HILARIOUS. On that note, will classics ever become touchable, or will they always be considered the epitome of that particular story, its quality independent of knowledge or technology?

  • What defines a remake? Is Reservoir Dogs remake of City on Fire? The Hunger games remake of Battle Royale?

    • I thought the hunger games was a film adaptation of a book? (though the book might be a “remake” of battle royale?)

  • They’re also apparently doing a remake or reboot of Child’s Play. They made a direct to cable movie recently as well (which apparently really sucks, but at least it’s more horror).

    Best remake for me is True Grit. The new one is better than the original, I think. But then I love a good western.

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1978 version, though I didn’t hate 1993’s plainly titled Body Snatchers),
    Alien (an Americanization of an Italian schlock-horror whose name escapes me),
    Never Say Never Again,
    Branagh’s Henry V (arguably a remake, though his stated goal was to emulate Olivier’s version),
    The Producers,
    Invaders from Mars
    The Departed
    Enemy Mine
    The Lady Vanishes (the Angela Lansbury version somehow doesn’t suck nearly as much as it should, though it’s not as good as Hitchcock’s original, obviously)
    The Mummy (though many would disagree, I think)
    A Bug’s Life and Battle Beyond the Stars, remakes of The Magnificent Seven, itself a remake of The Seven Samurai
    Flying High (if you can track it down, it’s well worth tracking down the original, which was called Zero Hour I think and was not meant to be a comedy, though if it wasn’t before, it is now)
    The House on Haunted Hill (not so much a remake not being worse, as avoiding being as awful as the original, which is unintentionally hilarious)

  • Remakes are tricky. Many originals may have been cheesy but had authenticity. Hard to recreate that authenticity. Planet of the Apes is a classic example. The Charlton Heston original worked. the remakes not so much (for me).

    Others (where I have seen both original and remake):

    Thomas Crown Affair — remake a good one
    Invasion of the body Snatchers – remake not great
    The Thing (have seen original and early 1980s remake) – remake not as good
    Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 – remake not great
    City of Angels, remake of Wings of Desire; remake not as good
    Day the Earth Stood Still – remake lame
    Point of No Return; remake of La Femme Nikita, remake not bad
    THe Birdcage, remake of La Cage aux Folles, worked well in its own right
    Ocean’s Eleven, remake worked
    Freaky Friday, remake worked
    True Grit – remake was good but still did not live up to original
    Miracle on 34th Street – not as good as original
    Manchurian Candidate – not as good
    Mighty Joe Young – not as good
    On the Beach – not as good
    The Stepford Wives – remake not bad
    The Fly – remake not as good
    Journey to the Center of the Earth – remake not as good

    I suppose movies based on TV series would be another category.

  • L’Appartment (Wicker Park),
    La Cage aux Folles (The Birdcage),
    Nathalie (Chloe),
    La Femme Nikita (The Assassin/Point of No Return)
    The Office
    The Italian Job
    The Wicker Man
    Life on Mars
    Scent of a Woman
    (Profumo di Donna)

    All remakes where I felt the originals were better, though in The Assassin, it closely followed the Luc Besson plot, and I enjoyed seeing the slight variance between the two, each being worthy of it’s rendition.
    I suspect for some films, the intended audience can have an impact – The Birdcage for example is probably a good example of how mainstream American audiences were still a bit coy at seeing two gay men living comfortably together, so a fair amount of the humour was lost.

    Some of the movies I felt were done better as remakes:

    Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (don’t hate me, Zooey Deschanel could eat wafers for an hour, and I’d think it was marvellous)
    Fun with Dick and Jane
    Romeo and Juliet
    Das Boot
    Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola version)
    Battlestar Galactica

  • I personally wouldn’t argue that The Departed was better than Infernal Affairs, but I guess the Academy disagrees with me

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