Monday, 26 March 2012
Mini Countdown: 5 Unnecessary Remakes
With recent news that Robocop is due to be remade, A Star Is Born is being remade for the third time and that Michael Bay has been sniffing around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, remakes have been on my mind.
I understand that remakes are popular- see, for example, the amount reeled off Hayden Panettierre's character in Scream 4 when challenged by the killer on horror remakes. However, it is rare to find a well-done remake. I enjoyed the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate andthe 1954 version of A Star Is Born is a delight to behold, but generally remakes tend to be by-the-numbers or lacking a certain spark evident in the original.
Below are, in my opinion, five of the most egregious examples of unnecessary remakes.
1. The Wicker Man (2006, dir. Neil LaBute)
The Wicker Man (1973) is not only one of the finest British films ever made, it is also one of the finest thrillers. Atmospheric, tense and skilful in its manipulation, it is a cult classic. To say that this remake doesn't come close to capturing a millionth of the original's class is a sad understatement. This is an absolute travesty. Rightly deserving its five Razzie nominations, this despicable waste of money and talent (Molly Parker, Frances Conroy and Ellen Burstyn for example) should be erased from the canon of film.
2. Psycho (1998, dir. Gus Van Sant)
For anyone who has seen Van Sant's preposterous scene-for-scene reimagining of Hitchcock's 1960 classic, you may have noticed a deeply disturbing rolling sound accompanying the action of the film: that noise is Hitchcock turning in his grave. If you're going to try and assay one of cinema's most well-known films, do something more imaginative with it than a bland rehash. Even facile additions (such as Vince Vaughn's pleasuring himself whilst spying on Anne Heche) do nothing but disappoint. This is a rare blot on Van Sant's copybook; as a film-maker he is so much better than this.
3. Halloween (2007, dir. Rob Zombie)
Another example of a remake which bleeds the tension and atmosphere of the original dry and replaces it with something dull, bludgeoning, uninspired, lacklustre and frankly boring. Had I not been with friends when I saw this, I would have walked out. There is a decent cameo by Sheri Moon Zombie as Michael's mother and Malcolm McDowell slices the ham thick as Dr. Loomis but this is generally just unwatchable tripe.
4. The Ladykillers (2004, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
There's a quintessential British charm to The Ladykillers, one of the most well-liked of all the Ealing comedies. Sadly that charm doesn't travel into this slightly leaden Southern Fried adaptation. Despite a pretty fearsome performance by Irma P. Hall as Mrs Munson (the titular lady), the other performances lack any credible spark, led by the front by the Colonel Sanders-like Tom Hanks (in the Alec Guinness role).
5. Sleuth (2007, dir. Kenneth Branagh)
I wanted to like this film, being a fan of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1972 original. Kenneth Branagh directing, Harold Pinter writing, Michael Caine acting (along with Jude Law, who I can take or leave and prefer to leave, if I'm honest)- the signs looked favourable. Alas, not so much when push comes to shove. Whilst Pinter's script is whip-sharp and the actors spar convincingly, the stripped-back minimalism of the house and the alteration of certain plot points take away a certain oomph present in the original.
There are bound to be more in the cinematic canon. Let me know some of your most unnecessary remakes in the comments below.