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Five Movie Remakes That Should Never Have Happened

Hollywood loves a remake. Because remakes can rely on name recognition and a known entity, studios and producers have always been fond of remaking successful films when they think there is a profit to be made. This year we have seen remakes of films like Conan The Barbarian, Fright Night, and Footloose, among others, and 're-imaginings' are in the works for such classics as The NeverEnding Story, musical cartoon epic Heavy Metal, Robocop, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, and even iconic 80's gangster flick Scarface. Not all of us appreciate movie remakes, especially when our favorite film gets the treatment, but some seem to fare better than others and a few have been just plain unnecessary. Here are five movie remakes that we think the world could have done without.

1.) Psycho (1998)

The 1960 original is arguably Hitchcock's greatest masterpiece, a box-office smash that shocked audiences with cutting-edge (no pun intended) death sequences and special effects, and has become an icon in horror cinema.

The 1998 remake from Gus van Sant, a director known for usually making some pretty great stuff, is a shockingly bad film. Van Sant, who received an Oscar nomination for directing Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting, is also known for being a very successful independent and art house filmmaker. He can personally credit such gems as My Own Private Idaho, Milk, and Elephant - a moving fictional story based on the shooting at Columbine High School, which won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival (its highest award) in 2003.

Clearly, van Sant is a skilled director. So his decision to shoot Hitchcock's classic film identically, scene-for-scene, shot-by-shot, with a new cast featuring Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche, and including updated - and much gorier - graphics but with absolutely nothing new to say, was just confusing, and should never have happened. (Filmmakers attempting to remake The Birds, take notice.)

2.) Planet Of The Apes (2001)

In 1968, the original Planet of the Apes was released to huge commercial success and mostly critical acclaim. Charlton Heston starred in this film about an astronaut crew who crash-lands on a planet in the future somewhere where apes live and speak like humans and humans are silent creatures that live a subservient life.

This classic movie, which examines the relationship between man and animal in a creative way, spawned several sequels that had varying degrees of success. However, the remake that was released in 2001, starring Mark Wahlberg and Tim Roth and directed by the usually magical Tim Burton, was disappointing and unnecessary. It tried to disguise weak dialogue with elaborate makeup and costumes but the film had none of Burton's usual charm, even with his wife Helena Bonham Carter starring as a compassionate ape alongside Wahlberg and Roth.

What was especially unsettling to many critics of the film was that the ending had been changed from the original by Tim Burton to allow for him to make a sequel when the time came. Unfortunately, he didn't end up making any kind of sequel so the ending is a little confusing. Even some members of the cast have trouble: "I cannot explain that ending. I have seen it twice and I don't understand anything," said Tim Roth. But forget the ending; we don't understand why this film was even made.

3.) The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

In September of 1951, when 20th Century Fox released The Day The Earth Stood Still, the United States was still reeling from the just-ended Korean War and the new and very real threat of nuclear weapons. The film, which features an alien named Klaatu who comes to Earth to warn us of our imminent demise, immediately struck a chord among post-war crowds as a film that highlights humankind's penchant for violence and conquering.

When the film was remade in 2008 by its original studio, 20th Century Fox, the United States was again reeling -- this time from 9/11 and the following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The world had changed a lot since 1951, but we still found ourselves embroiled in war with the threat of weapons of mass destruction. This movie could have worked in 2008, but it just didn't have the heart and the impact of its 1951 predecessor.

Keanu Reeves is believable as an alien with his vacant, yet fascinated gaze, but beyond that, the film is heavy on special effects and light on plot and depth. The remake received generally poor reviews across the board with a sad 40 out of 100 on Metacritic and only 21 percent 'fresh' (positive) on Rotten Tomatoes, both Critic Review Aggregators.

The original is on many magazine and website lists of the greatest films of all time. It was a cultural icon and is still a fantastic film worth watching. Films like that should generally not be touched unless the filmmaker does something phenomenal, which is rare.

4.) Arthur (2010)

Russell Brand is clean and sober now but it seems he still loves to relive his former life through movie roles. First he played junkie rock star Aldous Snow in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then reprised the role in 2010's Get Him To The Greek. In Arthur, Brand plays a wealthy, alcoholic socialite who is being forced by his family to marry a woman he finds repulsive. If he refuses, his inheritance and trust fund disappear.

Brand plays this type of part well because he is just being himself, like Kristen Stewart acting moody or bored. But 2010's Arthur remake brings no positive updates to the original, which featured Dudley Moore, the original drunken Brit, in the starring role.

The main difference between the two films is the quality, both in music (originally done by Burt Bacharach) and quality of the humor, as evidenced by the fact that, in addition to being a critical and box-office smash, 1981's Arthur was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning two. 2010's remake was a critical and monetary flop, receiving a failing 36 out of 100 on Metacritic and a measly 26 percent 'fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for a Teen Choice Award, though, so there's that.

5.) Let Me In (2010)

It isn't that Let Me In is a bad movie. In fact, it's actually a pretty good movie, but is a very unnecessary one and is an indicator of a trend toward 'Americanizing' foreign films. The original, Sweden's Let The Right One In, is a beautiful story about bullying, friendship, and love -- with really intense and scary vampires.

The remake is exactly the same, but in English, with American actors and updated graphics. Maybe in ten or twenty years this would be alright but Let Me In came only two years after its predecessor, something with which many filmmakers would likely take issue.

This trend toward American remakes seems unlikely to end any time soon, with remakes planned for such films as Korean masterpieces Oldboy and Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, as well as Japanese cult horror favorite Battle Royale, among many others. These films are already amazing and meant to be taken in the context and location where they were originally filmed. Certain customs and traditions are different between America and Japan, for example, so moving a film location from Japan to the US can be problematic. We see no need to mess with perfection and remake these movies unnecessarily, as is so often the downfall of the bad movie remake.

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Last modified on Monday, 16 July 2012 14:11

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