As Hollywood grows, the retrospective looks at its cinematic past have grown equally in number.
Remakes and adaptations of books and older movies are all the rage. It might be because nostalgia for beloved movies means giving them a twenty-first century makeover that will draw in the crowds, while still allowing a new generation to appreciate classic tales. Sometimes that approach works, while other times it takes the brilliance of the original and dulls its shine. While there’s certainly a lot to be said about remakes that didn’t quite hit the mark, we’re going for a more positive take, with the best of the best remakes.
The Jungle Book (2016)
In some cases, remake movies can run the risk of not living up to the charm and eternality of the original. In The Jungle Book’s case, it presented an intriguing new take on the Disney film, and certainly made use of new technology to give the film a depth that contemporary audiences are more accustomed to. Although it is a faithful remake of the cartoon, it also drew elements from Rudyard Kipling’s novel (the first movie’s original inspiration) to bring a freshness to the beloved story.
True Grit (2010)
A movie as dense as its name suggests, the Western True Grit was directed by the famous Coen brothers and helmed by then-breakout star Hailee Steinfeld. With an unlikely cast consisting of a 14-year old girl, an alcoholic lawyer, and a determined Texas Ranger, it’s the second adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel of the same name, and a great way to bring the Western genre to contemporary cinema-goers.
It’s not a surprise that Scarface is on the list – raunchy, reckless, and incessantly gory, it’s now known as both a cult classic and one of the best films in the crime genre. Tony Montana, played by the infamous Al Pacino, is a name dropped in countless movies, TV shows, and songs over the years, and as a result has completely eclipsed the notoriety of the original film, made in 1932.
A Star is Born (2018)
It may surprise some of you to know that the recent hit is a remake, and it’s even more surprising that it’s only the most recent in a long line of them – the original 1937 version, the first remake in 1954, with Judy Garland, the 1976 musical with Barbra Streisand, and a 2013 Bollywood version. 2018’s A Star is Born attracted tons of praise for the great chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s characters, chart interest in the phenomenal soundtrack featuring Lady Gaga’s power-vocals, and copious amounts of tears from audience members.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Definitively the most dazzling of them all, with its extensive use of CGI and heavy concentration on production design, 2013’s The Great Gatsby is the latest in a line of remakes of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel. Baz Luhrmann’s exuberance as a director returns in full force in the film, making for a cinematic experience unlike any other. While the film attracted its fair share of criticism from critics, it was praised by Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, and won Academy Awards for Costume Design and Production Design.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Turns out that classic love stories are great fodder for Hollywood, with multiple Pride and Prejudice remakes making their way into the public’s consciousness. The most recent, in 2005, saw Keira Knightley play the spirited Elizabeth Bennett and earning herself an Oscar nomination. The film was praised for the way it incorporated contemporary sensibilities with the historical source material, making for a perfect introduction for a new audience of to-be-Austen fanatics.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
You may be surprised to find out this is a remake, but the iconic George Clooney-helmed heist film is indeed a revisitation on the story presented in 1990 by the Rat Pack, a group of entertainers which included Frank Sinatra. While the original certainly deserves praise, it was the 2001 remake that cemented its place in cinematic history, and brought Clooney to a new level of fame.
Freaky Friday (2003)
Remakes don’t always need to be sweeping love stories or dramatic thrillers – sometimes, they can be Disney deciding to keep remaking the same daughter-and-mother-swap-bodies movie for each new generation of kids to come. There’s no problem with that, necessarily, but sometimes the new versions can be worse, which is why we didn’t choose the slightly jarring 2018 remake, and went instead for 2003’s rambunctious comedy, starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis taking on each other’s roles with great aplomb.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The hilarious tale of two tricksters in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of the script for 1964’s Bedtime Story, starring Marlon Brando and David Niven, who played their parts to acclaim. However, the scoundrels of this particular rendition are played by Steve Martin and Michael Caine, and they make the perfect pair, who try and scrounge an heiress out of her money. Playing off each other in a whirlwind of wit, their on-screen chemistry is unbeatable.
The Departed (2006)
When Martin Scorcese is directing, you know it’s going to be good. The Departed is the only remake to ever win a Best Picture Academy Award, as well as one apiece for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. And this time, the remake extends beyond geographical boundaries, since it’s a reprisal of the story of Hong Kong’s 2002 film Internal Affairs.
Feature Image: Warner Bros.