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Are Remakes Always Rubbish?

Tuesday 8 January 2013, 12:01

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

In the light of the new Texas Chainsaw sequel/rehash/reboot/relaunch (whatever!) I ask whether these kind of movies are always money for old rope?

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    Comment number 21.

    I think reboots are often more successful both critically and financially than remakes.

    Take into account Casino Royale, Batman Begins, Rise of The Planet of The Apes, to name a few.
    All of which pay respect to the source material or original, but bring them right up to date for a modern audience and have started their own series.

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    Comment number 22.

    Worst remakes? Sean Connery as a creepy old man Bond in Never Say Never Again, a cringeworthy, inferior and absolutely pointless remake of Thunderball.

    Remakes I like? I think some great films have come out of talented filmmakers taking foreign films and applying their stories to their own cultures, keeping the great stories but maybe changing the tone or the style - Nolan's Insomnia or Scorsese's The Departed, for example. And, though I don't think either are great films, I have to disagree with Mark and say that David Fincher's take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is the better film, as his more exciting direction makes the plodding, generic plot bearable.

    True Grit's also a great remake, adding the surreal Coen touch to make a greater, more modern film out of another great, if dated, Western.

    And, if we're counting reboots, the Nolan Batman trilogy and Casino Royale are among my favourite films of the past few years.

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    Comment number 23.

    every reply should be

    T O T A L R E C A L L

    and maybe the forthcoming robocop remake

    3:10 to yuma is easily the best remake because i doubt anyone has seen the original so it's cheating and is what most reboots should be doing - rather than re-do films that are clearly cult classics

    i'd like Nicolas Winding Refn to do The Last Starfighter tho

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    Comment number 24.

    Isn't the remake as old as film itself?

    So from the golden age, for greatest remakes I'd have to go with An Affair to Remember and His Girl Friday. For totally pointless remake I'd say High Society. The Philadelphia Story is as close as a film comes to perfect.

    In the modern world, hollywood versions of foreign language films (yes that includes the departed) and re-visitations of horror classics generally not only miss the point entirely but are total rubbish as they bring nothing new.

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    Comment number 25.

    This one will come up a lot but John Carpenters The Thing is probably the best example. I'll stick my neck out and say I did really enjoy the remake of Dawn of the Dead. The flip side to that is Day of the Dead which is terrible. Another to like is The Departed and one more to hate is Psycho

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    Comment number 26.

    Have to agree with the comment about Ocean's 11 - brilliant caper movie....and The Dark Knight trilogy (although these do have their genesis in Frank Miller's comic book re-imagining of so long ago).

    And I would like to see a re-make of Waterworld. There is an utterly stunning film in there somewhere (if you lose the gills....and the crappy muscial interlude.....and the cartoon villain.....). On second thoughts, maybe someone should just turn their attention to making films of Stephen Baxter's books 'Flood' and 'Ark'

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    Comment number 27.

    The Dark Knight trilogy aint a bad remake and "Jesus The Remake". A dark satire of the greatest story ever retold. Hopefully it's not rubbish.

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    Comment number 28.

    The best remake of recent years in my view, is Insomnia, directed by Nolan - the Pacino/Williams version which was a remake of a Scandinavian film. The worst - The Italian Job in 2005.

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    Comment number 29.

    Decent remakes: The Departed, True Grit, The Nutty Professor, The Thing (1982, not the recent one), A Clockwork Orange (of Warhol's 'Vinyl') - yes I'm resorting to that - that's how hard it is to think of good remakes/reboots.

    The very best in my opinion has to be Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant' - which was in some ways an adaptation of Alan Clarke's 'Elephant' - replacing Northern Ireland Sectarian violence with the Columbine Massacre.

    I've hated the horror remakes of the previous decade - Amityville Horror, Texas Chainsaw, Elm Street - there's many others - all pointless, expressionistic, polished, melodramatic and hollow - taking away the pure realism and rawness of the originals.

    I would like to mention Rob Zombie's reboot of Halloween. The original is very close to my heart, a movie I've cherished since childhood as being the most thrilling and terrifying suburban horror with socio-political undertones. I actually had no problem with Rob Zombie's version - I actually enjoyed it - it was a new, refreshing take on the story - giving you an insight which the original didn't give us - that's what remakes should do - they should tell the story in a different way, or tell a different story in the same way (like Van Sant's 'Elephant') otherwise the point of the film is to redo an old movie in a modern and contemporary way with new technology in order to cash in on a new generation of audiences (the upcoming Carrie, for example).

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    Comment number 30.

    When I saw the 1998 Psycho remake staring Vince Vaughn, not only did it make me want to re-watch Psycho, it made me want to take out my brain and remove the memory part that had just watched the Psycho remake to erase it from my memory.

    In terms of a film being remade and (personally speaking) bettering the original, would have to be The Departed. I have seen this film so many times now and each time it just seems to get better. Everyone in the film plays their part to perfection. Everytime Leo goes down in that list at the end, I always forget what is about to happen! Great film making and a perfect way to remake an all ready great film.


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    Comment number 31.

    I can't begin to think which is the worst remake/rehash/reboot I've seen. The one that I most hated last year was Total Recall mainly because I love the work of Philip K Dick and the first film was pretty bad to begin with.

    Probably the best reboot is Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. You watch the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films and then watch Nolan's and you just think 'Nolan's films are just so much better.'

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    Comment number 32.

    I think an example of choosing what to reboot (not necessarily the best film that happens to be a reboot) is true grit because the original did not age well at all and the bad remakes are the day the earth stood still due to the total misreading of the original or planet of the apes by tim burton for obvious reasons but the worst has to be the 1998 shot by shot heartless remake of psycho by gus van sant

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    Comment number 33.

    It's not out for a couple of months, but I saw Elijah Wood's remake of "Maniac" a few months ago and I thought it was much better than the original, which had some interesting ideas but was poorly put together, and mainly notable for its feeling of grubbiness. The remake decides to take an opposite approach and make the film as glossy and stylish as possible, even shooting everything from the Maniac's POV.
    Horror movies do seem to be the most likely films to make good remakes when they're not obvious cash grab remakes of famous horrors. I think the reason might be less that remakes are not intrinsically bad, but when the remake is of a famous or well-regarded film, it's often the case that the marquee name is being relied upon to bring in the box office, and the only other consideration is to get the film made as quickly and cheaply as possible.

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    Comment number 34.

    Bad remake: The Italian Job. What was the point?

    Surprisingly good remake: The Producers (2005). Sure, Mel Brooks was involved in both. But the 1968 version never seemed that funny to me, whereas the new one gave me well over the five laugh minimum. The new songs were fine, deadpan M. Broderick was great, the uber-camp Hitler was an improvement over the original, and the love song between Bialy and Bloom at the end almost had me tearing up.

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    Comment number 35.

    Oh, thank you, Mark. I've been waiting for this. The remake fad has been bothering me endlessly since my teenage years. I have to choose the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. One of the best horror films of all time turned into some pointless Hollywood drivel, starring Jessica Biel. Need I say more? Also, can't forget the remake of Dawn of the Dead - fast zombies? Give me a break.

    As for my favourite remake - it has to be Unfaithful. Adrian Lyne's version of La Femme infidèle is far superior to Claude Chabrol's boring and crude original. Featuring two fantastic performances by Richard Gere and the absolutely stunning Diane Lane. And by the way, Breathless is of course better than À bout de souffle. Godard, most overrated director ever.

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    Comment number 36.

    The remake that left me pining for the original can only be the remake of The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage. The perfect example of how to ruin a film with incredible tension and scares by filling it with scenes so ridiculous that it can only be enjoyed as an unintentional comedy.
    Best remake is easily the Coen Brothers version of True Grit, since it was the first Coens film I saw, I didn't know what to expect and what I got was an incredible revenge thriller strengthened by incredible performances, mainly the central performance by Hailee Steinfeld and moments of madness that just seemed to fit in with the world of the film, looking at the Dentist Scene in particular.
    I have to say, there are some remakes I'm actually lOoking forward to in the future, mainly the remake of Carrie to see how modern forms of bullying will be incorporated in the story and I'm really looking forward to see the performances from Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore in the lead roles.

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    Comment number 37.

    The Fly springs to mind as being a timely and very good remake/reimagining.

    Does True Grit count? They say they simply adapted the original novel their way rather than remaking the John Wayne film, but there was no eyepatch in the book.

    Oddly, I saw Scorsese's Cape Fear without realising it was a remake and thought it was an okay psycho film, but I saw the original a couple of years later and found it to be far creepier and more frightening. I'm not sure if my brain was tapping into the sensibililites of the time in which it was made, but that's never happened before or since.

    I couldn't understand why anyone would remake a movie like A Nightmare on Elm Street. The remake was just flaccid.

    In general, I think a remake simply has to stand on its own two feet as a movie, without being propped up by the memory or hype of the original or, indeed, its source material, and I think Cronenberg's The Fly, Carpenter's The Thing and the Coens' True Grit all succeed in this. To a lesser degree, so does the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I wonder how much more well-received the Fincher version would have been if the Swedes hadn't already made it?

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    Comment number 38.

    Well, Texas 3D isn't a remake, but since we're here...

    The Fly is my favourite movie. A true definition of remaining and the ideal way to approach a remake: take the original premise and execute it in ways the original makers never imagined.

    I'm also deeply besotted with Spielberg's Always. Harshly disregarded and seen as a flop for me it beats Ghost at its own game. A far more interesting and unusual central couple, with great chemistry between the leads - the inherited 40s atmosphere of A Guy Named Joe lending a timeless quality and perfectly suiting the director's sensibilities.

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    Comment number 39.

    The problem with most remakes is that they are remakes of classic films so will they will always struggle to measure up but of course it's not helped that they are often worked on by people with barely a fraction of the talent of the people made the original film

    That's why the best remakes are those based on interesting but slightly flawed films by actual talented film makers (the aforementioned John Carpenter's The Thing and Croenberg's The Fly and I'd also like add Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped which was a remake of the Harvey Keitel film Fingers)

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    Comment number 40.

    Worst remake: Psycho.
    Best remake (where I've seen both versions): True Lies (La Totale); Best remake where I've not seen the original: Ben Hur.

    There are more bad remakes than good ones, but remakes should really be about improving bad movies. It's ridiculous to try and better Hitchcock (although the two movies together provide a masterclass in film-making - the new one wasn't really poor or incompetent, it's just there's no way on Earth anyone could beat the original). I'd like to see remakes of films that had potential but failed to live-up to that potential rather than remakes of classics. One exception though - monster movies: every generation needs its King Kong and its Godzilla.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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