An oft repeated gripe in both internet message boards and coffee houses is that Hollywood has become devoid of creativity. People accuse filmmakers of a dearth of original creations, citing all the reboots, sequels, prequels, and adaptations that litter the landscape every summer as proof that the film industry has simply run out of ideas.
The thing is, though, reboots and remakes are anything but a recent fad. 1939's "The Wizard of Oz" is a classic, but there were at least ten silent era Oz films before then.
1978's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was a remake of a 1956 film, also a classic. "The Ten Commandments" was a silent film before it became more famous with star Charlton Heston in all its full color glory. The list goes on. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Remakes, reboots, and adaptations aren't inherently a bad thing and they've always been with us. We're still likely to get excited about some (like the upcoming "Evil Dead" remake which looks fantastic), while others will likely be wholly unnecessary and disposable (like the just-announced "Gremlins" remake which we're scared to death will employ CGI). But as many remakes and reboots as we have on the horizon, there are still even more that could and we argue actually should
be made. Some are films for whom enough time has passed to warrant a revisit, and some were just good concepts that…well, just missed the mark the first time around.
With that, we'd like to present ten films that we think are worthy of, or due for, a remake or reboot.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
The 1954 and 1978 film adaptations are both classics, but more importantly they show why sometimes a remake may not be necessary but can still be beneficial. Each film holds up in its own right, but are both also (rightfully) very much films of their time, which allows them to address each era's unique struggles with conformity and the preservation of individual identity in a culture of mass consumption. A theme such as that makes it easy and almost necessary to revisit it every few decades, and with the last one coming thirty-five years ago, it's long overdue.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
It's hard to improve on Sergio Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy, and we're not necessarily suggesting someone reboot that franchise. This film in particular, however, has enough action, drama, and conflict amongst the three central characters that with the right writer and director could be a lot of fun. Of course, there'd be the temptation to try to replicate what was done before, but we're not suggesting that. We're thinking more along the lines of the excellent remake of "3:10 to Yuma" from 2007. As for the idea that the Leone film shouldn't be touched…well, they themselves were adaptations of Akira Kurosawa's samurai films, so one can hardly take the moral high road as far as that's concerned.
THE BIG SLEEP
Humphrey Bogart was one of the most legendary hard-nosed badass character actors ever, even if his reputation in real life didn't always live up to it (there's a famous story about him doing "Angels with Dirty Faces" that will be recounted in a bit). Still, his portrayal as Philip Marlowe was so iconic that people will always associate him exclusively with that character's mannerisms, even though many other actors had played in the role in the various adaptations of Raymond Chandler's. That continued right on through the 1970s, with Elliot Gould and Robert Mitchum portraying the iconic character thirty years after Bogie's turn (and arguably doing an even better job). Which is why it's not necessarily a crime against nostalgia to revisit a film like "The Big Sleep." More importantly, though, the story is rich, deep, complex, and thought-provoking. Any director with a passion for storytelling and films that challenge an audience would salivate at the opportunity to revisit this classic.
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES
A tale of a gangster (James Cagney) and a priest (Pat O'Brien) whose early criminal escapades shaped the former and haunt the latter. They engage in a conflict to win the hearts and minds of a group of young delinquents (The Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys). The film tells a classic morality tale while also teaming up All-Stars from the crime noir genre, an appealing formula that could be replicated with today's action stars and teen idols.
: As mentioned earlier, Humphrey Bogart is also in the film as an attorney on the take. According to one legend, Bogie learned first-hand that the hooliganism of The Bowery Boys wasn't limited to the silver screen. Known for their rambunctiousness, they at one point cornered Bogie and bullied him, then forcibly stole his trousers from him. They continued to be problems for the cast and crew. Then one day, while doing a scene with Cagney, one of the kids started goofing off. According to the story, without hesitation or much provocation, Cagney socked one of them in the jaw and knocked him to the floor, and from that point on they weren't a problem for anyone on the set. Who knows if that's true, but it makes for a great story.
Until its recent end and subsequent relaunch under DC's "New 52" line, Hellblazer
was Vertigo's longest running imprint, publishing continuously and without interruption or re-numbering since 1988. These days, that's unheard of. The book's protagonist is John Constantine, a detective of the supernatural who battles evil forces through cunning and deceit. The character is revered and has been subjected to treatments from talent including but not limited to Neil Gaiman, Brian Azzarello, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrisson, and others. We think there's more than enough in the concept alone for a retread, but especially considering all the material at their disposal that they could mine for a film, it's a real shame that it hasn't been done yet. Also, that 2005 film was…well, not very good at all, was it? A miscast lead, a misunderstanding of the character, and a mess of a script made it seem more like they had a story lying around that they just slapped the franchise's name onto. The character, and particularly its fans, deserve better.
LAST ACTION HERO
This film will always be remembered as perhaps the biggest flop of Schwarzenegger's career, almost reaching the point of "so bad it's good" ironic nostalgia. Yet the premise behind it is sound, and a lot could be done with the idea of an action hero breaking the fourth wall, coming into the "real world" as it's presented in the film, and having to cope with the different physics and relationships of real world people. In fact, the original script for the project was far more biting and satirical in nature, but got watered down into the cartoonish version we ended up seeing. If you're going to do a serviceable but ultimately unnecessary retread of "Total Recall," why not give another shot to a film that might actually deserve a chance to redeem itself?
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
Alan Moore is known for being fiercely independent and refuses to watch any film adaptation of his comic properties. Lucky him. The 2003 film was a complete mess, in fact criminally so. Not just because it took the great concept of heroes from Victorian literature being brought together to fight a common enemy and wholly wasted it, but because it also wasted a great cast that included Sean Connery (who had a ton of conflicts with the film's director Stephen Norrington). Granted, there's something to be said for leaving this alone entirely since Alan Moore doesn't want his work adapted into a film. Ideally, that'd be the case. But if they're going to own the property and muck around with it anyway, why not give it another go? A decade has passed, which is more than enough time to warrant a retread.
Frank Miller's involvement in the adaptation of "Sin City" led him to believe he could direct "The Spirit" on his own. He was woefully mistaken. With a script that one could diplomatically called trouble and without an experienced filmmaker at the helm, the film was a bit of a mess. But between Eisner's work on the character he created and what Darwyn Cooke was able to do with the character in the short-lived relaunch in 2007, you have a wealth of material to mine for a reboot.
I have to admit, I adore the 1990 film starring Warren Beatty and Madonna. As goofy as it was, it was also a lot of fun for an eight-year-old. More importantly, it introduced me to the original Dick Tracy strips, many of which were collected in thick volumes to coincide with the release of the film. But if you read those strips and watch that movie, you'll notice a wild dichotomy between the film's tongue-in-cheek, over-saturated cartoon world and the grim, gritty, noir-ish world inhabited by Dick Tracy as presented by Chester Gould. The nature of some of the villains may on the surface make it hard to take them seriously, but it could be done, particularly since if one was so inclined s/he could write guys like The Brow and Flat-Top as either normal people with somewhat prominent (but not ridiculously exaggerated) features or as grotesque monsters of the criminal underworld. Either way, there's so much potential and material to mine that it's almost confounding this hasn't been revisited already.
Nobody seemed surprised when the recent "Captain America" film turned out to be as good and as much of a critical and financial success as it was, but period superhero films are a tough thing to pull off (even though we call for quite a few of them on this list). The classic radio serial from the 1930s (which starred Orson Welles in the title role) was adapted in 1994 in a film starring Alec Baldwin. Unfortunatley it completely missed the mark, especially with the tone of the character. Since then, though, people have acquired a better understanding and appreciation of what the character is and could be; in particular, the Dynamite Comics adaptations of the last few years have been stellar. Any number of those could be used as a foundation for creating a thoroughly entertaining film that still takes itself seriously, which is what the character needs.
Don't get us wrong. We're not saying these films need
to be remade. In fact, if none of them were to happen, we wouldn't exactly lose sleep over it. We're just saying that despite the cynicism of so many, remakes and reboots aren't inherently a bad thing and can result in some great projects seeing the light of day.
Of course, that's just our opinion. What films would you like to see remade or rebooted? Or are there any in our list you don't want to see touched? Let us know in the comments.
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