Hollywood’s cheerful recycling of previous hits shows no signs of stopping anytime soon, and as long as movies like Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book can make nearly a billion dollars worldwide, then remakes will continue to seem like a sound financial proposition.
All it takes is one massive success to wash away the remakes that either split the critics (The Legend Of Tarzan) or performed below expectations and torpedoed plans for a sequel (Ghostbusters).
Favreau’s film will probably go some way to helping Hollywood forget about the film commentators labelled the summer’s biggest turkey, even though it had been in multiplexes for only three days: Ben-Hur.
Even before its release, Timur Bekmambetov’s take on the classic was branded a DOA dud, a flop in waiting, a wreck the participants would be lucky to walk away from. Clearly setting itself up to fail, the movie was actually a remake of a remake, and not just any remake – the 1959 version won a then unprecedented 11 Oscars.
The movie’s awards haul wasn’t equaled until 1997, and as much as James Cameron would like you to believe that his movie was unique, Titanic was basically a souped-up, spectacular remake of the 1953 film of the same name. When filmmakers get it right, remakes can be intoxicating, and here are 10 films that prove it.
10. Evil Dead
The Original: Declared the “number one Video Nasty” by Mary Whitehouse, banned in the UK and put on trial for obscenity, Sam Raimi’s feature debut needs no introduction.
The Remake: Everything a modern horror movie ought to be, Fede Alvarez’s remake ditches Bruce Campbell’s character and foregoes shameless fan service in favor of doing things on its own terms. It’s still remarkably true to the spirit of Raimi’s film, though, and its remit appears to have been to recreate “the ultimate experience in gruelling horror” for a new generation.
This turns out to be a really cool idea (who doesn’t want to see a zombie armed with a nail gun?) and it’s a step up from the usual attitude of “let’s give them what they want and get the hell out of here.” Though made with its tongue partly in its cheek, Alvarez’s film eschews comic book violence and redefines onscreen brutality. When his characters fall, smash their heads or are struck by nails, they hurt.