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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 1.

    Nice to hear that the Film Clib is to be resuscitated, thought it had been forgotten about.

    Poor effort at reboot/remake - recent Spiderman - completely unnecessary.

    Good effort - Star Trek - very impressed.

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    Comment number 2.

    The worst and most unwanted remake in my book is 'Rollerball'. Was there anything left of what made the original a brilliant film. To my mind 'Gladiator' is a better remake. All the same themes, using sport to keep a population distracted and compliant; the need for escalating violence to keep the crowd distracted; the crucial point that no champion can be bigger than the game or the system collapses.

    Best remake: The Postman Always Rings Twice. The original noir was great, but the Jack and Geena show had more passion, and was more believeable.

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    Comment number 3.

    Hi Mark,
    I enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma very much but i saw the remake before the original and this may have had an effect on my viewing.
    Although you may not agree with me, i thought David FIncher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was better than the original, Unnecessary maybe, but a better film. There are a few other remakes that were entertaining if not brilliant.

    Assault on precinct 13
    Cape Fear
    The Departed

    Let's also not forget that Michael Mann's Heat is a remake of Michael Mann's (TV Movie) LA Takedown. On top of that Terry Gilliam's masterpiece Twelve Monkeys is also a remake of a short french film call Le Jetee. Both of the above are brilliant films and are far superior to the originals.

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    Comment number 4.

    The immediate classic remake (or reboot or reimagining...) that springs to my mind is The Thing. Although the original is fine (although I contend it's very dated) Carpenter's version is simple brilliant.

    As for pointless ones I'm heading straight for The Day The Earth Stood Still.

    Nuff Said really.

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    Comment number 5.

    Best reboot/rehash? Surely it has to be Batman Begins. Such a visionary, refreshing and mature take of something that people had been messing around with half-heartedly for decades. It took them almost 70 years to realise that not every villain had to be the Joker in a different costume.

    Arguably Casino Royale can be included here... Not so much a reboot as an update, bringing Bond up to speed with it's 21st century Action/Spy/Thriller contemporaries, and just happening to leave most of them in the dust.

    Best remake? Arguably... and off the top of my head... The Coen Brothers' True Grit. Everyone involved truly at the top of their game. Fearless, funny, and heartbreaking.

    And the worst? There's a whole horde of mid to late 2000s Bay horror remakes that I'm sure would make the grade if I'd given them the time of day... but it must be Ringu remake The Ring. If not only for fluffing up the television scene so spectacularly with a fuzzy, ghost-like Sadako fluttering around the living room like a Star Wars hologram instead of a slimy, tactile and terrifyingly tangible apparition crawling out of the screen. Oh... it was Gore Verbinski. Sorry, I should have just started with that.

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    Comment number 6.

    In reply to post 5 from Dan:

    As the film ninja said of PotC 2 "What we needed was more Gore and less Verbinski".

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    Comment number 7.

    I really love both the original and Werner Herzog's remake of Nosferatu. I actually saw the 70s version first and really enjoyed it, which prompted me to find the original which I now hold in great esteem. That's probably my best remake experience.

    On of my worst remake experiences was the recent remake of Romero's The Crazies, which was a total waste of time, boring and a bit of an insult to the source. I had to rewatch the original to wash the taste out of my mouth.

    I can't follow the logic in this, but for some reason a dreadful remake of a loved film never seems quite as severe a slap in the face as a poor adaptation of a favourite classic novel #cough# Anna Karenina.

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    Comment number 8.

    As a Superman Fanatic Bryan Singers 2006 Superman Returns stands out as to just how bad a re-boot can be. Brandon Routh lacks Reeves charm and wit, Spacey looks like Dan Akroyd in Eggheads and Kate Bosworth is......well Kate Bosworth.

    As for a Re-boot worth watching, well let's just see what Mr. Snyder and Mr. Nolan do with Man of Steel.......

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    Comment number 9.

    Being someone who usually abstains from viewing any remakes of films I love (classic or otherwise), 2010's True Grit really surprised me. Based on Charles Portis's 1968 novel of the same name, the original starring none other than the Duke himself released not long after in 1969. The film still holds up, with John in his element. The film has great dialogue and intriguing action all against the backdrop of breathtaking wilderness and biting atmosphere. With this all in mind I went into 2010's True Grit uncertain as to how well it would do, and was pleasantly shocked by a fantastic film. The Coen brothers made a brave move by remaking a classic western, nonetheless a powerhouse John Wayne picture. But in doing so they respected the original while also adding their own panache. I prefer this newest adaption over the original to this day. Not only are Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin perfect casting choices that fill out their roles wonderfully, they make the characters all their own and don't copy from the original. The script stays more in line with Charles Portis's lovely novel, and keep the crucial ending the author penned which is much more satisfying that the ending we got in 69 when creative liberties were taken. For all this and more, The 2010 remake feels more complete, more of a journey, and for that it remains one of my favorite remakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Are most remakes bad? Yes
    But not all... The Maltese Falcon (1941) is a remake

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    Comment number 11.

    The Thing, an exercise in remakes: Thing From Another World (1951) - never seen it.
    The Thing (1982) - Superb suspenseful horror so good people forget it is a remake. Made to use the latest visual effects to do the story justice.
    The Thing (2011) - Lazy uninspired 80s horror remake cash-in to add to the growing avalanche of those films.

    Films, can be good or bad, depending on their intentions. If you mean to make money and don't care about showing people a good film, that'll be obvious. More often than not remakes have their eye on the dollar rather than the quality. There's plenty of original intellectual property that sucks too.

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    Comment number 12.

    There have been many remakes over the years that have left longing for the original but the one remake that was completely pointless and wasn't even a pale reflection to the original was Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. Yes, the make up was good. But seriously? This was a wholly derisive and ridiculous take on the original classic. Burton's movie just took the basic concept of the original and Pierre Bouille's source material, took out everything that was great about it and simply turned it into a sort of idiotic chase movie with one of the most illogical twists in mainstream film history.

    The best remake I think I've ever seen of a film is definitely Ocean's Eleven. The original rat pack version is no classic by any means, but Steven Soderbergh along with Clooney, Pitt, Damon and a lot of other people, made what is, for my money, and incredibly entertaining and stylish heist movie.

    I'll take that remake over the original any day.

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    Comment number 13.

    Also the Donald Sutherland remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was awesome.

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    Comment number 14.

    The one reboot/relaunch that has really made an impact on mainstream cinema itself, and has stood out as as one of my all-time favourite pieces of cinema, is Christopher Nolan's reimagining of Batman in his widely-acclaimed, not least by you and me, Dark Knight Trilogy. He took iconic classic characters from pop culture and brought it into the modern world by making a dark, gritty, hard-boiled superhero franchise epic that has become its own creature, refusing to be shackled to the comic-book mythos.

    Honorary mentions of successful relaunches/remakes includes: Dredd, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Let Me In, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Daniel Craig's James Bond movies, and The Amazing Spider-Man (It's not as bad as people think).

    The only real remakes.reboots that has left me feeling embittered and angry were the remakes of all the classic horror films, including the recent Texas Chainsaw 3D, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and that list goes on... and on. But then again, we have yet to see the remakes of Evil Dead and Carrie. They might turn good... but then again they might not.

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    Comment number 15.

    Cronenberg's remake of "The Fly" worked for me because of Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum's romance backed by stunning creature effects.

    DePalma's scarface always seemed more to be a poster for students to plaster across their digs' than an improvement on Howard Hawks' gangster story.

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    Comment number 16.

    Reboot/Remake? Scarface. Why? It did not have anything to do with the original, and made itself relevant. The question (I hope) any director/producer asks is 'Is there any relevance to what I am doing?'

    Remake I expected to be bad? Italian Job. The original is no master piece, but hearing they were to remake the MC classic *shudders*. When it came to viewing, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it does not tax the mind. No its not as good as the original. But there again, its connection is by name and the use of Mini Coopers.

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    Comment number 17.

    A friend of mine said he preferred the American remake of Ringu. We no longer speak.

    (And going off on a TV tangent don't get me started on Homeland versus the Israeli original)

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    Comment number 18.

    I am almost forgot to say that Life of Brian is far, far, far superior to The Greatest Story Ever Told.

    It's also a case of the film being better than the book.

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    Comment number 19.

    The best remakes are those which take the central idea, and make something completely new. I think it's no surprise that the best remakes are those from talented, personal filmmakers (Carpenter's Thing, Cronenberg's Fly for instance).

    The problem today is these kind of remakes are now rare because more recently it is STUDIOS initiating remakes, rather than filmmakers. They own the property, so they decide to create a new revenue stream/franchise from the property because they know "the kids" will more likely go and see a 'new' film rather than a sequel.

    For me The Thing is the best remake (we can quibble over what constitutes a remake another day), though I'd give honorable mentions to The Fly, and The Blob.

    My Bloody Valentine is probably the one I thought would be dreadful but turned out far superior to the original, again probably because it was made by filmmakers who knew what they were doing (unlike the hacks given the keys to other 80s horror gems).

    The worst: Nightmare on Elm Street. I don't think a film has ever made me so angry.

    Funny how all the interesting remakes (good and bad), all seem to be horror movies...

    Incidentally, I still have no idea if TCM 3D is a remake of the original, a remake of the remake, a sequel to the original series, a sequel to the remake series, or a reboot, or a re-imagining... can anyone elighten me?

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    Comment number 20.

    Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween is an utter disaster. A film made by a man who clearly didn't understand what made the original so effective. Explaining that Michael Myers turned psycho because he had a crap home life and was bullied at school completely undermines the originals idea that Myers is a force of nature. Pure evil. Supernatural even. Zombie should be ashamed of himself.

    Best remake? I honestly can't think of one. The Dawn of the Dead remake was pretty good. And I have to say I'm really looking forward to The Evil Dead remake. The new red band trailer is awesome.


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

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

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