Top 10 Remakes of All Time
Brian De Palma's CARRIE is a classic, but a flawed one. With that in mind, a remake is not as terrible an idea as it would be if it were THE EXORCIST or CASABLANCA. While good remakes are usually the exception to the rule, there have been a good number of excellent remakes that surpass the original. Here are the ten best remakes ever made and why they are better than their predecessors. If you disagree or your favorite didn't make the cut, feel free to add it to the talk back below.
Zack Snyder's remake of George Romero's classic made the risky decision to make the zombies runners versus the slow, lurching kind of undead. Still here are the trademark mall setting and group of people thrown together to survive, but gone are the political subtext of how consumers are like zombies themselves. The film still works thanks to fast-paced action sequences and some brilliantly selected songs to highlight a world gone mad.
You may not be familiar with this series about a blind swordsman who travels the land saving people, but it is a very well known franchise of movies and television shows in Japan. When iconic actor/director Takeshi Kitano revived the character for the 2003 film ZATOICHI, the result was cinematic awesomeness. Chock full of samurai violence, the movie is a phenomenally enjoyable update that deserves to be seen by a very wide audience.
The Coen Brothers' take on the John Wayne classic is at once a more faithful adaptation of the original novel but one of the best westerns of all time. Rarely do you get two movies sharing the same story that are as good as one another but in very different ways. Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin are phenomenal but they pale in comparison to Hailee Steinfeld. The young actress steals the film and delivers one of the single best performances by a child actor in any movie.
OCEAN'S 11 is the classic heist film starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr, but OCEAN'S ELEVEN is the real treat. Steven Soderbergh is in his purest form of movie-making with the heist comedy that highlights his masterful editing skills. The finished product is a fun ride with very little wrong with it. I could have done without the sequels, but the first film is the reason why people go to the movies: fun, exciting, full of stars, and entertaining.
Christopher Nolan's remake of the 1997 Erik Skjoldbjærg movie is not a shot for shot retread but rather a reinterpretation of the same story. You can look at both movies side by side and feel like you are watching completely distinct films. Nolan's eye for detail and composition is one thing, but he also manages to elicit the best performance of Al Pacino's recent career. Robin Williams and Hilary Swank are excellent as well. This is how remakes should be done.
Like OCEAN'S ELEVEN, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is a remake of a loved movie but somehow finds a way to make it even better. Maybe I am partial to Pierce Brosnan while he was still in James Bond mode or maybe it is the great turn by Denis Leary. No, I am pretty sure it is due to Rene Russo's nudity. That and the brilliantly executed heist sequence set to the song "Sinnerman". Everything works in John McTiernan's film and serves as a reminder of why we need more movies from him.
Elmore Leonard's story has been adapted once before, but this is the best take. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are badass in James Mangold's drama but it is Ben Foster as Charlie Prince who steals the whole movie. 3:10 TO YUMA shows that a western doesn't have to sacrifice drama for action and balances the gunplay with some great back and forth dialogue between Crowe and Bale.
David Cronenberg's remake of the Vincent Price classic keeps the same basic plot, but instead of a man with a fly's head and vice versa we get the ultimate body horror story as Jeff Goldblum becomes BrundleFly! One of the most horrifically gross monsters ever put to film, you still feel for the character as he descends into madness and de-evolution. Geena Davis' birthing scene is still one of the most f*cked-up moments in any film and shows that a remake doesn't have to be faithful to the original as long as it delivers a good story.
If you are going to remake a movie you couldn't do much better than Martin Scorsese as your director. While the original CAPE FEAR has iconic performances from Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, the 1991 take is both a throwback to old school Hollywood thrillers but also a masterful and pulpy update. Scorsese and Robert De Niro created one of the most immortal villains in Max Cady, a character that has been spoofed so many times it is hard to keep track. Elmer Bernstein's score is also one of the most easily recognizable themes of all time.
Do I really need to explain why? John Carpenter took the idea from Howard Hawks' THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD and turned it into the Antarctic equivalent of Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Part mystery, part horror movie, and part special effects master class, THE THING is at once one of the scariest movies of all time and one of the most fun. I defy you to find one person who has seen THE THING and not loved it. It kicks so much ass that there are not enough ways to tell you why.