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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What movies actually deserve a remake?

Tony Scott’s updating of The Taking of Pelham 123 opens on Friday, and it turns out that it’s a remake that actually makes sense: Technology and practices — in the fields of filmmaking, subways, commmunication, and law enforcement — and culture have changed enough that this new film is different enough from the original to make it worthwhile.

That’s not always the case with remakes, but surely there must be other films that would similarly benefit from an updating. I looked at my list of top 100 movies to see if I could find one that I wouldn’t mind seeing redone… and not much is jumping out at me. I see some films there that have already been remade, mostly to results either terrible (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) or neutral (The Producers), but the only possible movie that might benefit from how filmmaking technology has moved on is 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Made today, it would certainly look better. I’m not sure that it would actually be better, though.

But the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three isn’t among my most favoritest movies ever, and the remake won’t be, either. Surely there must be a few titles it would make genuine sense to update. What do you think:

What movies actually deserve a remake?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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  • Dave

    How about a “Starship Troopers” that actually has something to do with the Heinlein novel, instead of being a dim-witted bit of agit-prop crudely welded to an episode of “90210?”

    How about a “V for Vendetta” with some subtlety?

    On the whole, however, most of the movies they are remaking don’t need to be re-made. I’m waiting for the hucksters in charge to try to re-make classical movies — or “re-imagine” them, as they did with “Barb-Wire,” vis-a-vis “Casablanca.”

  • The Gaucho

    No remakes, please. Try and do something original. Less movies, but better quality, something like that.

    *geek mode on*
    If you DO want to remake a movie, make it… The Two Towers, but now with the proper Faramir storyline.
    *geek mode off*

  • JoshDM

    For a near-proper remake of Starship Troopers, view the computer-generated cartoon releases of Roughnecks.

    Meanwhile, I am throwing The Princess Bride into the ring of remake contention.

  • Dave

    I’ll check out the animated series, although, if it is the one I’m thinking of, it still presents Juan Rico as Caucasian.

    What could you really add to the Princess Bride — nicer ROUS and Shrieking Eels, but they’re the least of what made the film special — no one has ever complained that the crude ROUS spoiled the film for them.

  • Brian

    I’m not saying it should necessarily be done, because the original is so perfect . . . but I’ve wondered for a long time how one would reimagine North by Northwest for the era of modern travel, not to mention communications and security technology. Would it be even remotely possible to escape the UN building today? Could Thornhill and Kendall’s first meeting be made half as stylish and sexy on a plane as it is on a train?

    If someone could come up with creative solutions to all those challenges, it might almost be worth greenlighting.

  • PaulW

    Well this is in relation to your Dream Cast forums you post from time to time: how you would remake Midnight Run or Princess Bride and such.

    Personally I am in a “dammit Hollywood stop raping my childhood” mode where I’m particularly upset with all these damn remakes. And yes, if you look through IMDB you’ll see that Hollywood’s made remakes ALL THE TIME. Stagecoach has been remade twice. The awesome Charlton Heston movie Ben-Hur was a remake of a silent production (by the same guy, DeMille). IT! Conquered the World has a remake, fer Zardoz’s sake. So I know that this is actually standard operating procedure for the film industry. It’s just not a SOP I like. Especially when certain remakes (Land of the Lost, Stepford Wives, etc.) are poorly conceived, overtly campy, and/or wrongly cast.

    If there ought to be remakes, it should be like what you suggest for the Pelham remake: changing times and improved technology would make the original movie seem outdated if it were set in a modern world, hence a remake that would be contemporaneous to today. In that vein, a sequel/remake to TRON would be nice (wicked grin, yes I’ve seen the bootlegged promotional for TR2N).

  • Althea

    Ever since “Goldfinger” hit the screens I have wished that they’d make movies – not remakes, not “re-imaginings”, but real movies – from the James Bond novels. Not one since “Dr No” (and, grudgingly, “From Russia With Love”) has a movie conformed to the books. (Curse you, Cubby Broccoli.) They were off to a decent start, and blammo, “Goldfinger” turns out to be somebody else’s book! Not that it wasn’t exciting and pretty good, but I still wanted to see the real one. Sure, they’d be period pieces, but still…

  • doa766

    a lot of movies from the late 80s and early 90s had great ideas but no enough resorces to make it good

    there’s a futuristic prison movie with cristopher lambert that I don’t remember the name that would be great if it was made now

    labyrinth with present day CGI and no David Bowie music nunbers should be very interesting

    willow is better than all the lord of the rings wanna be movies of the last few years like eragon, narnia, spiderwick, in the name of the king, etc, but it’s visually outdated, a faithful remake would be great

    but I guess the most obvious choice is one of my favorite movies of all time: Brazil, with modern CDG and Terry Gilliam directing of course

  • doa766

    it’s important to understand which movies are remakes and which are another adapatation of the source material

    the The Taking of Pelham 123 is a remake

    Charly and the Chocolate factory is NOT A REMAKE, it’s another take on the novel

  • David

    I always throw out the suggestion of ‘The Clash of the Titans’ with the CGI capabilities and respect for fantasy that you see today it could be awesome.

  • Jim Mann

    How about a partial remake: Return of the Jedi, but getting rid of the Ewoks. Go with Lucas’s original idea and use Wookies. Or at the very least, re-do the Ewoks so they no longer look like Teddy Bears. (That’s the digital update Lucas should have made to the original films, rather than worrying about having Greedo shoot first.)

  • Tel

    Running Man – The Schwarzneggar Film. It was a great idea and almost a great film. Alex Proyas to direct.

  • Dave

    Not sure about the Clash of the Titans… Harryhausen was a genius.

  • Kenny

    I’d love to see a remake of the film “Sink the Bismark” from 1960.

    I’d like a story that focussed more on the human side of the events and less on the finer points of naval manoeuvres.. a thoughtful portrayal of the reactions of the crews of the respective ships when HMS Hood blows up, taking all but 3 of her 1500 men with her… or when the Bismark is surrounded and eventually destroyed… Also the technology to convincingly depict WWII battleships and life aboard has come on a long, long way since 1960.

  • MaryAnn

    I always throw out the suggestion of ‘The Clash of the Titans’ with the CGI capabilities and respect for fantasy that you see today it could be awesome.

    It’s already happening:


  • amanohyo

    You know, this may be blasphemy, but I wouldn’t mind if they remade Highlander, even though it’s already the best movie ever made. The action scenes are shot well, the acting is fine, but the fight choreography is hideous by any standards. There’s some untapped potential and room for improvement in Watership Down and Legend too. It would be extra cool if Ridley Scott decided to remake his own movie.

  • Lythea

    You know, if I hadn’t seen the most recent Highlander movie, I’d be all in favor of remaking the first one. The Source was absolutely hilarious, but I don’t think we should take the risk of that happening again. Maybe in 20 years there’ll be enough momentum and nolstagia built up to make a decent movie in that universe. Either that or it’ll be forgotten completely. The idea was always better than most of acting or writing.

  • Victor Plenty

    You know, since we’ve agreed to indulge in blasphemy here, I’ll call for a remake of Battleship Potemkin, if only for the perverse amusement of watching the self-appointed film history experts who are sure to accuse it of stealing the baby carriage scene from The Untouchables.

  • the rook

    how about a remake of ‘plan 9 from outer space’ with michael bay directing?

  • ah, but “Plan 9” had heart, even if it was inept in other ways. Michael Bay has no heart, just an ignition switch. i guess he could blast the aliens out of the sky and put a machine gun in the modern Vampira’s hands. perhaps Tim Burton should remake Plan 9. although, i wasn’t thrilled with his Mars movie.

  • GnuHopper

    I would like to see a remake of 1970’s COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. A film about computers taking over the world “for its own good” would be even more relevant now than it was when the original was released. I can see someone like Scott Bakula in the Dr. Forbin role (if he isn’t considered too old these days).

  • PaulW

    Running Man – The Schwarzneggar Film. It was a great idea and almost a great film. Alex Proyas to direct

    The novella was a brilliant idea, I’ll grant you that. But it shouldn’t be a movie: mini-series. 13-17 one-hour episodes shot much like one of today’s reality TV shows. C’mon think about it. The Running Man game show was a precursor to all this Survivor and Ultimate Race and elimination-themed programs we have inundating our airwaves right now. With all the nihilistic grimness of Bachman’s pages played out to the last scene.

  • PaulW

    I’ve been joshing about doing a Plan 9 remake ever since the question first popped up here on MaryAnn’s site. But I wouldn’t have Tim Burton do it, he’s too… goth/camp for it. It needs to be spartan, economical, straight-forward action with all the dialog kept intact… maybe Sam Raimi?

  • Kate

    I’d love to see a new “Hellraiser.” Something that more closely mirrored Clive Barker’s original novella, “The Hellbound Heart.”

    Yes, Pinhead and the other Cenobites are fantastic, but the lead actress and the weirdness of her having what sounds like a US accent when in fact she’s supposed to be the daughter of a Brit, etc., and the generally cheesy acting are pretty bad.

    In the novella, the lead female character is not his daughter at all, but a gawky friend who’s in love with the lead and jealous of his wife, which works so much better with the themes about the extremes we’ll go to for the ones we desire that Barker was exploring….

  • nathan

    personally, i would luv 2 c a remake of Watership Down in photorealistic CGI. HOWEVER, it shud b more faithful 2 the source material than the original animated film was (no characters left out, more of a chronological order) and not be watered down 2 b made suitable 4 little kids.: it shud be darker, not cuter; realistic looking rabbits, not cute fluffy ones with big cartoon eyes; keep the violence and tense situations/style of the novel. Target audience shud b older teenagers.
    Possible director? I’d say either Peter Jackson or Tim Burton!!!

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