In recent Ghostbusters news, star of the original film Dan Aykroyd suggested that the recent remake featuring an all-female cast, “might be” better than the original. Big talk indeed, but not unprecedented. Despite some of the downright dreadful attempts at remakes (See: Nic Cage’s The Wickerman or 2010’s Clash Of The Titans), occasionally a belter slips through the cracks and outshines the original. Here are 10 remakes that are actually better than the original.
1995’s Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone was considered confusing in tone, with even the actor noting; “The philosophy of the film was not set in stone”. The gritty remake, starring Karl Urban as super-cop Dredd, avoided any attempt at humour, resulting in a dark and brutal movie that’s found a bigger audience following its disappointing cinema run.
The Fly, 1986
The gruesome sci-fi horror film from 1986 was a remake of a 1958 B-movie of the same name. The schlocky storyline (man mutates into fly) was given a gory overhaul in David Cronenberg’s 1986, injecting gore, fear and emotional depth. Jeff Goldblum plays scientist Seth Brundle, who begins transitioning after a fly slips into his transportation machine during tests. Cronenberg’s film established his name as a true pioneer of the body horror genre, which deals with gruesome mutations and graphic diseases.
Ocean’s Eleven, 2001
Originally starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr) the 1960 film was remade 50 years later with a cast packing huge Hollywood star power. Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia, to name a few, the film took $38 million in its opening weekend. The heist scene in particular is executed with precision, with Entertainment Weekly calling it one of the best on-screen heists of the decade.
The Departed, 2006
The Departed is actually a Hollywood remake of Chinese film Infernal Affairs. The complex thriller is moved from Hong Kong to Boston and sees Leonardo DiCaprio go undercover in the Irish mafia, headed by Jack Nicholson. Director of Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau, told a Hong Kong newspaper that he thought his version of the film was better, but still heaped praised on the Hollywood remake. Some film-buffs agree with Lau, but the all-star cast of Leo, Nicholson, Matt Damon and director Martin Scorsese, and quicker pace of The Departed just about tips the scales in its favour.
True Grit, 2010
Originally made in 1969 with John Wayne in the starring role, a remake was directed by The Coen Brothers in 2010. The gritty Western tells the story of a Mattie Ross (played by Hailee Steinfeld), who recruits US Marshal ‘Rooster’ Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to track down the murderer who killed her parents. The film went on to be nominated for ten Oscars and critics lauded the move from family-friendly Western to violent drama.
The Thing, 1981
The 1951 film The Thing From Another World was remade in 1981, with The Thing staying truer to the source material by John W Campbell Jr, and a cult-hit was born. The improved screenplay focuses on a group of researchers in the Antarctic and the extra-terrestrial power that shifts between the group. Paranoia and terror are high in this ice-cold horror remake.
Casino Royale, 2006
This Bond novel was the first Ian Fleming penned, but the 1967 spy comedy Casino Royale was made without legendary Bond producer Albert R Broccoli and his production company, Eon productions. The film loosely interpreted Fleming’s story into a spoof film that was critically panned, earning a scathing review from noted critic Roger Ebert. There was some reluctance from the studio to revisit the source material again, but after a re-write to the ending by screenwriter Paul Haggis, the amended story became Daniel Craig’s first Bond film. The comedic slapstick of the original was dropped and heart-pounding action scenes were introduced into the 2006 remake.
Originally set in Chicago, the (still great) 1932 flick took inspiration from the original Scarface, Al Capone. The 1983 remake upped sticks and took the drug-fuelled tale to Florida and cast Al Pacino as Cuban immigrant, Tony Montana. It’s now considered as one of the greatest Mob films of all time.
21 Jump Street, 2012
The ’80s TV show gave Hollywood star Johnny Depp his big break, as a cop going undercover in local high schools. Released in 2010 and starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, the remake provided huge laughs and parodied the over-dramatic nature of Hollywood cop films. A sequel, 22 Jump Street, even had a cameo from Depp himself.
Cape Fear, 1991
Based on John MacDonald’s novel and the 1962 flick starring Gregory Peck, 1991’s psychological-thriller Cape Fear saw Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese collaborate. The former plays a knife-wielding convict seeking revenge on his lawyer and his family, after being released from prison. The truly terrifying riverboat finale cements this one as a sure-fire success.