Some would argue there is good reason for our disdain of remakes: past evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of them are – and this is a term film journos...Some would argue there is good reason for our disdain of remakes: past evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of them are – and this is a term film journos like to use to make themselves sound all clever and stuff – ‘ballshit.’ The past twenty years of mainstream cinema is so pocked with the crusty remains of the restless barrage of all the 'ballshit' remakes we’ve endured that we’ve been left with a distinctly sour taste in our gobs - one that's only partly to do with bodily fluids in the popcorn.
Yet this is just one side of the remake coin. Batman Begins was, essentially, a remake, and we all know how that ended up. Then there’s the Coen brothers’s superb take on True Grit. Remakes occasionally work, and can occasionally yank a dead or floundering franchise back from the brink of obsolescence.
So if a remake, re-imagining or re-interpretation (whatever they’re calling it this week) can be a good thing, we’d like to suggest a few other properties that could do with a facelift. Are there any others you think are begging for an update? You know what to do.
What? A graphic novel created by Todd McFarlane about an ex-soldier who’s brought back from the dead, who turns against his demonic chums to be a force for good.
Last seen in? A truly abysmal 1997 adaptation which was detested by critics and utterly loathed by fans. Ballshit. Omni-ballshit.
Why remake it? Admittedly, we’re hardly crying out for another graphic novel adaptation, but the 1997 film missed the point of Spawn so completely that the source material surely deserves another crack at cinematic success. Sure, it could end up alongside disappointing camp efforts like Constantine or Ghost Rider, but if they got it right it could, feasibly, be brilliant.
Ideally: Guillermo del Toro directing and a hard-R rating. This will never happen.
What? Mad Max on boats.
Last seen in? Kevin Reynolds’ 1995 extravaganza which was, if budgets are adjusted for inflation, the second most expensive film ever made until Titanic came out. (The most expensive was Cleopatra, below.)
Why remake it? The original film is far from the abomination that many people would have you believe: it’s po-faced, too long and all over the place, but it’s also truly epic, contains some great ideas and its sheer ambition is so admirable it’s infectious. Nevertheless, a remake (or, preferably, a loose sequel) with a tighter plot and richer characters could address the issues with the original that bothered fusty old critics so much. The world in the film is a potentially great canvas for a huge, sweeping story, and it would be a shame if one was never fully realised.
Ideally: Mad Max on boats! Just do that!
What? The third chapter in a hugely ambitious series of intensely creepy BBC sci fi-dramas, in which British scientist Bernard Quatermass is brought in to investigate the discovery of something ancient beneath the streets of London.
Last seen in? 1957’s excellent serial.
Why remake it? A story of alien influence on mankind’s evolution, taking in the occult, ghosts, the Devil, telekinesis, genocide and mass psychosis sounds good, yes? Well, it was, but the fact remains that a lot of people are put off by the 1957 version’s age and dated production values, and that it’s so clearly a product of its post-war setting. Which means it’s a fantastic story of which few people are actually aware. So it needs telling again. Now.
Ideally: The story is so strong that, as long as Nicolas Cage isn’t cast in the lead, it should be easy to get it right.
What? An 1896 novel by HG Wells which examined mankind’s arrogance when dicking about with nature. Basically, there are nasty mutants going apeshit.
Last seen in? A steaming stack of wretched effluence, released in 1996 and starring a distracted Val Kilmer and a bizarre Marlon Brando.
Why remake it? The last film was such an unforgivable mess that it’s nothing short of an insult to HG Wells’ source material, the themes of which are, if anything, more relevant today than they were in the nineties. A remake could combine the exploration of the dangers of scientific meddling (like Rise of the Planet of the Apes) with brutal horror (think 28 Days Later). Which, in the right hands (Danny Boyle’s), could be disturbing, frightening, and superb.
Ideally: Gore and monsters. Lots of monsters.
What? The adventures of the space-faring Robinson family who get, well, you know. Lost. In space.
Last seen in? 1998, in an adventure/sci-fi misfire starring Friend Matt LeBlanc.
Why remake it? There were two options available to the 1998 film: go ‘kiddy’ and make a rip-roaring family adventure, or ‘go dark’ and explore the potentially terrifying conceit of being lost in the vast unknown of the cosmos. It went with neither. Instead, it decided to find the exact equidistant midpoint between the two, and then do a shit on it. The idea deserves another take, only this time they need to decide what sort of film they actually want to make. Perhaps a good one.
Ideally: No Matt LeBlanc. No CGI space monkeys. More Gary Oldman.
What? The tale of the last Egyptian pharaoh’s various romps and run-ins with The Romans.
Last seen in? A 1963 epic starring Elizabeth Taylor, which cost such a vast amount of money to produce it has the dubious privilege of being the only film in history to be the highest-grossing film of the year while also making an overall loss.
Why remake it? The original film was all exquisitely-beautified movie stars and stiff-upper-lipped thesps, but, since Gladiator, we’ve become au fait with historical epics that don’t shy away form the grim realities of what life was actually like at the time. The story of Cleopatra is a one which warrants a retelling, and a grittier, more realistic tone would be more suited to its themes of betrayal, love and war.
Ideally: Starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Ridley Scott. Obvs.
What? Stephen King’s tale of a lifeform which exploits the phobias of its victims.
Last seen in? The 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry which is the reason every person of a certain age voids their bowels whenever they see Ronald McDonald.
Why remake it? It’s never had the full-on movie treatment, only a serial adaptation, so there’s a whole generation of cinemagoers who are yet to be petrified to their cowardly little cores by it. A movie remake could fix the wobbly effects of the series while amputating the corny whiff of the eighties, and it could pilfer the best moments (i.e. the drain – Google it, it's harrowing) from the series while adding a few of its own. Make it happen.
Ideally: With Tim Curry reprising his role as Pennywise the Clown.