10 Films Hollywood Should Have Remade Instead Of Ben Hur

If you remake it, they will come.

Armageddon Bruce Willis Ben Affleck
Buena Vista Pictures

Based on a novel by Lew Wallace, Ben Hur tells the story of a Jewish merchant who seeks revenge on the former friend that imprisoned his mother and sister and forced him into slavery. First filmed (in one reel) in 1907, the story reached the big screen again in 1925 and 1959 respectively, with the latter version winning a then unprecedented 11 Oscars.

Timur Bekmambetov directs the latest remake, but don’t expect it to match its predecessor’s awards haul. Though the trailer promises epic battles and effects-heavy action sequences, its only Morgan Freeman’s dreadlocks that distinguish it from Gladiator, 300, Gods Of Egypt et al.

That’s the problem with the modern multiplex – every “new” movie is a variation on an imitation. If your local plex was an ice cream store, they’d stock 57 varieties of vanilla.

Hollywood knows its future lies in trading off famous titles, but that doesn’t mean they have to keep remaking Wuthering Heights, Beauty And The Beast or The Magnificent Seven. The number of bad movies crying out to be improved by a well-intentioned reboot is considerable, so here are 10 pictures that could give remakes a good name.

10. US Marshals

Armageddon Bruce Willis Ben Affleck
Warner Bros.

This is the not-very-thrilling sequel to The Fugitive, which saw Tommy Lee Jones pursuing Harrison Ford, an innocent man on the run. US Marshals attempts to tell the same story, albeit with a different fugitive, but the result didn't exactly blow people away (Empire called it, “generic, uninspired and devoid of suspense”).

The movie was built around Jones, who won an Oscar for The Fugitive, leaving us some pretty big shoes to fill, so our version gets as far away from his interpretation as possible and reinvents the character as female. Think Joan Allen or Kim Dickens, somebody who has that quietly commanding routine down cold.

Pit either one of those against Chris Pratt’s innocent man being hunted for a crime he didn’t commit and you’ve got some serious fireworks. Also, remember the final part of the movie, where Robert Downey Jr's character turns into a Talking Villain who outlines his Sinister Scheme? (Didn’t think so). Our version needs to lose that.

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Ian Watson is the author of 'Midnight Movie Madness', a 600+ page guide to "bad" movies from 'Reefer Madness' to 'Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.'