Remakes are all the rage nowadays. With the likes of Disney churning out remake after remake of their classic films, it feels like original films are few and far between.
But is this necessarily a bad thing? Whilst remakes can often get a bad reputation for “ruining” the original by taking away the nostalgia and missing the entire feel of what made the original so great in the first place, some remakes knock it out of the ballpark.
Not all remakes are created equal, so, here’s some examples of remakes that got everything right:
The Birdcage is a remake based on the Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles, which is also adapted from the play of the same name. The story follows a gay couple, one who is the manager of a nightclub featuring drag entertainment, the other the star drag attraction, and their son who brings his fiancé and her conservative parents home to meet them.
The original was a huge success, the second highest grossing film of the year in France. The nineties remake had a lot to live up to, but Robin Williams and Nathan Lane certainly delivered. Their chemistry on screen created a believable performance of two people in love desperately trying their best to help their son conceal the truth from his future in-laws. The comedy topped the box office on its release and went on to earn $185.3 million.
Dawn of the Dead
The 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, was considered a ‘re-imagining’ of the original film, taking a similar setting and characters but making the zombies in the film more terrifying. In the original, the zombies lumbered around in that slow way we stereotypically associate them with, in the remake, they sprint.
The remake skimped on the social commentary and instead delivered a much more gruesome and horrifying tale. In some respects, the remake succeeded in some elements of horror that were absent from the original. Both films were successful, with the remake grossing $102 million worldwide.
The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap follows the story of twins separated at birth as a result of their parents’ divorce, unintentionally brought together as teenagers to meet for the first time where they hatch a plot to get their parents back together. The remake was Lindsay Lohan’s film debut, and the film puts a modern spin on the 1961 original to make an enjoyable, beloved film that’s considered a classic.
In 2018 it was announced that The Parent Trap is one of several films that are being remade from Walt Disney Studios, it’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the first remake.
Little Shop of Horrors
The remake of Little Shop of Horrors completely transformed the 60’s B-movie about a human-eating plant into a different medium all together. Director Frank Oz leans on the world of down and out loners whilst also dialling up the joy of a Hollywood musical with the incredible slapstick moments from his cast. Nominated for two Academy Awards, Little Shop of Horrors was universally acclaimed.
As for the 1960 version, it has gained somewhat of a cult following as a result of the success of the remake.
Remake(s): 1976, 2005
The giant ape we know as King Kong has actually had two film remakes. The character first appeared in 1933 and the film received universal acclaim upon its initial release. King Kong is one of the world’s most famous film icons and has spawned much more than just two remakes of the original film including cartoons, cross-over films (Godzilla vs. Kong), books, comics and video games.
The 2005 version is by far the most noteworthy of the remakes. This film won three Academy Awards and took in $551 million at the box office.
Almost thirty years after its original release, The Fly is still one of the most disturbing horror films ever made. This story of an eccentric genius experimenting with teleportation and accidentally fusing his genes with those of a housefly grossed $60.6 million in the remake against its $9 million budget.
Both versions were commercial successes, however the original received mainly mixed to positive reviews upon its release whereas the remake was critically acclaimed.
Both versions of this heist film follow the story of Danny Ocean planning a heist from Las Vegas casinos. But whilst the 1960 original ends with the group losing their money after it’s cremated in a coffin, the 2001 remake takes a more complex look at the story, framing it as a vengeful act against the casino owner.
The remake was praised by critics for its style and wit, whereas the original was slammed for making the heist ‘too easy’ and had a mixed reception. The remake went on to become the fifth highest-grossing film of 2001 with $450 million.