Because sometimes, one is enough.
It’s not that screenwriters are running out of ideas (look at all the flourishing original TV series like Netflix’s Narcos, Stranger Things, HBO’s Westworld, or even NBC’s This Is Us for proof), it’s just that Hollywood has always considered remakes a potential gold mine that requires minimum effort. A lazy strategy that, occasionally, actually works…
Unfortunately, more often than not, the motivation behind the decision to produce reboots is nothing more than cash, and – as already established – lots of it. Sadly, this means projects can often turn into tasteless, sloppy and predictable movies that would have been well-off simply remaining bad ideas in the head of too many money-grubbing producers.
Although one might think the countless appalling remakes the cinema industry has generated throughout the past decades surely should have helped instigate a bit more temperance by now, the message conveyed by those failures seems to still fall on deaf ears.
Below are some of the worst examples, which clearly should have never seen the light of day.
The Karate Kid
The original: After moving to Southern California with his mother, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) quickly becomes the target of bullies who practice karate at the Cobra Kai dojo. When Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the eccentric repairman from their new building, shows great combat skills as he saves him form being attacked by the thugs, the young man asks Miyagi to teach him to fight the same way. The wise man accepts and trains Daniel to prepare him to compete against the brutal Cobra Kai.
Going so far as to change the martial art (Karate has become Kung Fu) mastered by the lead character throughout the story, which causes the movie’s title to become downright inaccurate, the 2010 remake, featuring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (who’s much younger than Ralph Macchio when he played the same role), nearly discredits the original film from 1984.
Although updating is never a bad idea, the new version appeared to have taken too many liberties, almost leading to something that eventually should have been marketed independently.
The original: In 2084, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) keeps having disturbing dreams about visiting Mars, which always include the same mysterious woman. Despite being discouraged by hi wife Lori (Sharon Stone), Quaid decides to implant false memories with the help of ‘Rekall’, a company that will give him the “real” sensation that he’s been on the planet. Surprisingly, the procedure does the exact opposite by making him realize that his current life, comprising his loving wife, is all a lie. And now that he knows, some people want him dead…
Ask yourself: Did we really need another version of Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 science-fiction classic? Even though the reboot, starring Colin Farrell as a replacement for Arnold Schwarzenegger, was decent, it added nothing but new, pretty faces, impressive action scenes and a more modern edge to what was, nonetheless, superior on many other, more powerful, levels.
If there’s one thing Len Wiseman’s remake brings to the original, it’s the awareness that, even more than 20 years later, Verhoeven’s vision still surpasses those of some modern directors.
The original: Obsessed with finding out what happens after we die, Nelson (Kiefer Sutherland), a medical student, convinces his classmates David (Kevin Bacon), Joe (William Baldwin), and Rachel (Julia Roberts) to bring him back to life after having he killed himself. Looking for meanings in their own existences, all the members of the experiment will themselves attempt to journey into the unknown following the success of Nelson’s undertaking. Continuously pushing the limits, each of them will be forced to contend with the paranormal consequences of trespassing on the other side.
On paper, the idea of remaking Joel Schumacher’s 1990 thriller doesn’t sound bad at all. Not a lot of people actually remember the 1990 original movie, and it definitely hasn’t aged well. Therefore, there was a lot of good reasons to reboot Flatliners via the addition of younger, ambitious actors, the access to more modern technology, and new, terrifying horror movie’s techniques. But, as we all know now, that’s unfortunately not what happened.
Pale copy of the original, Flatliners 2.0 doesn’t take any risks by following almost the exact same course as its predecessor. What could be seen as a fear of deviating too far from the first film’s storyline, turns out to be perceived as plain laziness caused by an obvious lack of creativity, giving its title a brand new meaning.
The original: Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) moves from Chicago to a small Midwestern town, where he is shocked to discover that dancing and rock music are illegal. As he struggles to fit in, McCormack will try to change things around by challenging the system and Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), the conservative father of his new love interest, Ariel (Lori Singer).
What was groundbreaking in the ’80s clearly doesn’t mean it will have the same impact on a new generation. A lot is to be taken into account when reviving a success form that period, and with Footloose‘s remake, it seems like nothing really was. A cheap, hollow version of the original success, the production only managed to improve the story by offering modern and highly choreographed dance moves – not much else.
The original: Anthony Zimmer is a criminal mastermind who has always managed to slip through the fingers of the authorities. No one ever saw his face, but commissioner Akerman (Sami Frey) thinks he knows how to get to him by following the love of his life, Chiara (Sophie Marceau). Under Zimmer’s instructions, and to counter the police’s plans, Chiara seduces François Taillandier (Yvan Attal) in order to make the police believe he is the pursued bandit.
Hollywood has the foolish tendency to believe that if a foreign movie is already a hit, it will be even better once remade in the US, with American actors, and in English, obviously. Sadly, although it might work some of the time, The Tourist, remake of the French film, Anthony Zimmer, starring Bond girl Sophie Marceau, is the perfect example that producers can often be in over their heads with the arrogant idea. Even Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who directed the magistral The Lives of Others, were not up to the task.
(And so many more: Dinner for Smucks, The Birdcage, Three Men and a Baby,… the list is long.)
The original: Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who just stole $40,000 from her employer to run away with her lover Sam (John Gavin), decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel in order to take a break from escaping the police. There, she meets shy and polite owner of the place, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who rapidly falls under her spell. Later that evening, she is savagely murdered in her room’s bathroom by a mysterious woman. After she’s been missing for a week, her boyfriend and sister Lila (Vera Miles) start searching for Marion, which leads them to Norman and his strange establishment.
There’s no denying that Gus Van Sant is a legend, but we can, on the other hand, question what went through his mind when he decided to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece in 1998. A shot-by-shot redundant replica, the new version didn’t have much to offer. With the ambition to add more depth and visual style, the movie, starring Anne Heche, Vince Vaughn, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, and William H. Macy, fell completely flat.
The original: The Freelings family starts freaking out when they realize their suburban home is haunted by evil forces who are after their daughter Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke). When the little girl goes missing, her parents Steve (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane (JoBeth Williams) turn to a parapsychologist and an exorcist for help.
If there’s one thing that defines the 2015 remake of Tobe Hooper’s 1982 horror classic it’s that it’s pretty forgettable. Adding nothing special or of real value, and poorly re-written, the film was deemed “fundamentally unnecessary” by critics.
The original: After being exposed to a mysterious cosmic storm that bestows super powers upon them, scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), astronaut Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), researcher Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), and pilot Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) unite forces to fight evil.
With an approval rating of 9% based on 219 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the new Fantastic Four is actually one of those remakes that manage to be just as bad as its predecessor (if not worse). Although we forgave the cheesiness of the 2005 movie, the 2015 adaptation of the Marvel comics, featuring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell, has nothing going for it apart from its cast; no humor, no dynamism, no sagacity – not even good visual effects.
The original: The day Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a low-profile high school student, finds a mysterious book called Death Note, he has no idea it was offered to him by a spirit of death, who intentionally dropped the notebook in the human world out of boredom. More terrifying, the book gives its new owner the power to kill anyone by simply writing their name on its pages. Light then decides to use it to free the world from criminals. But after some time using the Death Note, the young man’s killing spree starts catching the attention of world-famous detective “L” (Ken’ichi Matsuyama).
There’s so much that’s wrong with the recent American reboot of Death Note by Netflix. Boring and ineffective, the film can’t save himself from trying to be something it’s not. Even Adam Wingard’s distinctive eye doesn’t make a difference. Plus, actors Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, and Margaret Qualley are really unlikable playing unrealistic and excessively irritating characters.
Ghost in the Shell
The original: Cyborg federal agent Maj. Motoko Kusanagi is on a mission to pursue the Puppet Master, a powerful hacker who can enter into the computerized minds of cyborg-human hybrids and control them. During her investigation, Kusanagi begins questioning her own existence and what life might be like if she had more human traits, which will lead her to a shocking discovery.
Probably the worst kind of remake, live-action movie adaptations of animated films are not only unnecessary, but usually result in being the exact same thing, just with real people in it (Beauty and the Beast was good, but brought almost nothing fresh to the original Disney version, for example). But, white-washing debate aside, Rupert Sanders’s Ghost in the Shell, despite boasting pretty impressive visual effects and starring kickass Scarlett Johansson, didn’t feel like anything different with little of it being truly memorable. As eye-catching as it was, Ghost in the Shell ultimately didn’t manage to give enough depth to its characters and storyline.