Filming a movie is no walk in the park. It takes months of hard work and dedication; even after every scene has been shot and every line has been read, the grueling task of editing has to be done. Now, we can all agree that not every movie meets one’s expectations and some may not even be worth watching, but thankfully this isn’t always the case. There’s a plethora of great films out there waiting to be watched or re-watched; everybody has their favorites. Speaking of favorites, what would you say if you found out one of your all-time favorite movies was, in fact, a remake? Would you stubbornly deny it, or would you immediately scour the internet for a copy of the original?
It’s kind of insane when you consider how many movies are actually remakes. Seriously can’t people write their own movies? It seems as though Hollywood has gotten really lazy over the past twenty years. Sure there have been some great movies over the years, but think about it, if it’s not another remake it’s an adaptation of a book or a comic book; which seems to be very popular right now. Nevertheless there have been some remakes that prove this artistic shortcut isn’t always a bad idea. To backup this point we have put together a list containing ten remakes that proved to be better than the originals. Read on to find out if one of your favorite makes the list.
10. Ocean’s Eleven
This 2001 box office hit was well received by fans and critics alike. Its star-studded cast includes Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon just to name a few. Director Steven Soderbergh had the right idea when he decided to remake this 1960s heist film of the same name. Although the original also had a cast of renowned celebrities, their skills proved to be better suited for the stage rather than on set. For those who aren’t familiar with Lewis Milestone’s original, his cast included Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop. Unlike the remake, critics found Milestone’s version of the film to be rather boring. A high-profile cast isn’t always the answer, especially when it doesn’t live up to the hype.
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Before the two film adaptations, this gritty crime story was a best-selling novel written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. The original film was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, and it was well received by fans of the book. So when it was announced that director David Fincher was going to be making an English version of the film, there was a lot of skeptical remarks being thrown around. However, Fincher had already proven that he could direct a dark and gripping crime story with his films Seven and Zodiac. Not only did Fincher’s version manage to capture more from the novel, but he also brought us closer to the two main characters Lisbeth and Mikale, who were played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. Both actors gave amazing performances, and were perfect fits for Larsson’s characters.
8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Here we have another film that was originally a novel, though it has been remade a number of times. Author Jack Finny wrote this science fiction novel back in 1955 titled “The Body Snatchers”, which spawned the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers just one year later. The 1956 version of the film may have been fitting for the time, but the 1978 remake by Philip Kaufman has stood the test of time. Kaufman was able to create a more believable version of the sci fi thriller with the help of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. Another remake was attempted in 2007 titled The Invasion, but it’s pretty terrible and isn’t worth watching.
7. 3:10 To Yuma
This remake has definitely seen its fair share of debates, but in the end the 2007 version usually comes out on top. The 1957 original is considered one of the best westerns of the 50’s starring Glen Ford as the film’s protagonist. Director James Mangold was tasteful when it came to remaking this classic; he chose not to stray too far from the original plot which helped keep some of its old charm. The casting for the 2007 version didn’t hurt either, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in the lead roles. Crowe managed to transform the character of Ben Wade into a more daunting and intimidating villain, adding to the intensity of the film. Although both films are great, Mangold’s version seems to surpass the original in a few categories.
The interesting thing about this crime classic is that director Michael Mann chose to remake one of his own made-for-TV movies titled L.A. Takedown. It’s not the first time a director chose to remake their own work, but it’s definitely one of the most notable. With a star-studded cast of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer, it’s no surprise that this film topped its predecessor. Mann’s 1989 film lacked both the action and performance we see in his 1995 adaptation renamed Heat. Nevertheless, Mann still remained unsatisfied with his remake after significant cuts were made from his original script.
The original may have a cult following, but when you think of the movie Insomnia, Christopher Nolan’s 2002 remake is the first that comes to mind. Although it is one of his early films, Nolan managed to transform the film into something of his own while developing into the big scale director he is today. Nolan’s adaptation of the Norwegian film adds an element of tension between the cops and the killer, keeping the audience at the edge of their seats the entire time. Another element that helps Nolan’s film stay on top is the casting. Both Al Pacino and Robin Williams deliver a riveting performance in this psychological thriller.
Not many people realize that Brian De Palma’s classic crime film Scarface is actually a remake, but that’s understandable considering the original came out in 1932. Despite the time period, the original is still pretty violent, but it doesn’t come close to the action-packed violence in the 1983 remake. The two films are surprisingly similar in many ways, especially when it comes to the main character. Both Paul Muni (in the original) and Al Pacino (in the remake) pull off a great performance as the sociopathic antihero. The original film may have paved the way for many classic mob movies, but De Palma’s remake tops the original in every category. The script, the characters and the violence/action sequences in the 1983 Scarface are unforgettable compared to the original.
3. True Grit
True Grit was originally a novel written by author Charles Portis in 1968. The first adaptation of the book came out one year later staring John Wayne, who ended up winning an Academy Award for his performance as Rooster Cogburn. Considering the success of the first film, no one ever expected a remake; but if anyone could pull it off, it would be the Coen Brothers. Not only did the Coens remake this classic western, they managed to outshine the original. Casting played a big part in their victory, having Jeff Bridges play the part of Rooster Cogburn was a perfect fit, and actress Hailee Steinfeld gave us a great performance as her character Mattie Ross. Both Steinfeld and Bridges had great chemistry on screen and stayed true to the characters in the book; even more so than the original film. One major difference between these films has to do with the character focus. In the original, John Wayne takes the spotlight as the lead character, which is fine since it worked. However the Coens decided to give the lead to the girl, Mattie Ross, as the author originally intended. This difference is one of the major factors that set the two films apart, and in the end it just works better.
2. The Departed
Martin Scorsese has directed some extraordinary movies over the years, and The Departed is one of them. This crime drama has an enticing and suspenseful story that will surely entertain any audience. Originally it was a Hong Kong film titled Infernal Affairs and, although this film is good, it lacks the structure and acting talent Scorsese brought to the table. An interesting fact about this film is how it came to be: actor/producer Brad Pitt actually bought the rights to remake Infernal Affairs from Media Asia for $1.75 million. Clearly he saw the potential this film had and found the perfect people for the job. Scorsese’s skill as a director is undeniable, especially when it comes to mob films, so having him on board was a definite plus. But let’s not forget the other defining factor that helped this movie trump the original, the cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin. Leo and Jack alone are enough to make any movie shine, so it’s no surprise that The Departed far surpasses the original.
1. The Thing
No, not the 2011 version everybody thinks is the remake. We’re talking about the 1982 film directed by the ever-talented John Carpenter. Yes, believe it or not The Thing (1982) isn’t in fact the original. First and foremost this story is based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?” which was first adapted to film by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby in their movie titled The Thing from Another World, in 1951. Carpenter’s version came thirty-one years later and completely demolished the original. Sure the advancements in film had far surpassed those from the 50’s, but take into consideration Carpenter’s use of practical effects in this film; they’re masterfully executed and still stand the test of time today. John Carpenter’s The Thing has been a massive success from the day it came out to the present; it’s spawned a comic book miniseries, a video game sequel and a prequel film. It’s a must-see for all sci-fi/horror fans out there and is still considered one of the best horror films ever made.