Movies that Should be Remade [Think Tank]

Movies that Should be Remade [Think Tank]

Because it didn’t quite make the cut the first time around.

Fenzel, Dr. Zhivago

Movies should be remade when the script, concept or other material was really great, but the interpretation, direction, art direction, score or other execution leave you some room for improvement.

We can rebuild him. We have the technology!

Admit it: It looks a bit unprofessional; a bit too much like a high school play.

Movies tend to get remade primarily because they had wonderful scene-stealing acting performances or really great composition that the filmmakers want to emulate. If you’re only going to remake relatively few movies, don’t remake the ones that nailed it the first time, especially in ways you can only aspire to copy. Remake ones you know you can, and must, make differently and better.

Personally, I think movies should be remade much more frequently. It is a tragedy to see so many great roles and scripts to be interpreted only once. Imagine if Mel Gibson’s was the only version we ever had of Hamlet? But as much as I’d love to watch the Hugh Grant Under Siege, effective remakes are all about doing it for the right reasons.

"Don't let my people remake this movie!"

Whereas this is just gloriously insane.

The Ten Commandments would be the absolute worst movie to remake. You’ve got the two grandest, most inimitable film actors ever (Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner), a supporting cast full of film legends doing wonderful work, captivating set and visual design, legendary direction, and a script that sounds like it was written line by line on an Etch-a-Sketch (and shaken between takes).

This is why the remake of Battlestar Galactica (the original had a cool concept, but dumb execution) was such a good thing, why remakes/special editions/reimaginings of Star Wars (the original had a bad script, but wonderful execution) are almost always artistic failures, and why I suspect the remake of Star Trek (the original and TNG had boring concepts, but marvelously charming execution) might not be that interesting.

The best possible movie to remake? My vote goes for Dr. Zhivago.

Many actors give really good performances in Dr. Zhivago, but they’re not the kind of performances that eat up the room left over for those who come later. Omar Sharif is great, but he’s better in other roles than in this. Same with Sir Alec Guinness. I always thought the pacing of this movie was really flat, the acting wasn’t urgent or naturalistic enough, especially for a drama that aspires to humanity above all else, the direction was too focused on splashy imagery and didn’t have enough dynamism, and the whole look relies a lot on convention to the extent that it looks way more dated than comparable movies — it’s like the director took the storyboards a bit too literally. It’s still a solid movie, but it succeeded in spite what I think are of a lot of dropped balls and had massive unrealized potential.

Your mom has a huge crush on this guy.

Your mom has a huge crush on this guy.

Zhivago is a sweeping, dramatic story with action, spectacle, compelling characters, exotic locations and cunning double-crosses. Exploring Revolution-Era Russia right now has tons of fresh resonance, given how much has happened to Russia and the world since Zhivago came out back in 1965 and the stresses cutting across the core of our societies these days.

There are a lot of sequences in this movie that were a bit too ambitious at the time, but would be a blast to see with today’s techniques. The blizzard scenes alone are almost as good as the desert pratfall scenes in The Ten Commandments — but I still think they can be done better.

In the remake, they get to lower the sheets several inches from their necks.

In the remake, they get to lower the sheets several inches from their necks.

I say Ultimate Zhivago 2012 (working title) would be a slam dunk. Clive Owen could win the Sean Connery Memorial Fake British Russian award and rake in a few hundred million dollars in the process.

Actually, Clive Owen probably isn’t the guy for it. You need somebody more sensitive. Like Ben Affleck.

Oh God, what have I done!!! >smashes stone tablets<

9 Comments on “Movies that Should be Remade [Think Tank]”

  1. Sean from Aus #

    Dr. Zhivago had a really good remake in 2002. It’s definitely worth a look.

    My vote is with Dave. However, given the three options:
    1. A real farce would be “Harold and Kumar take over the White House”
    2. Making it more fish out of water-ier would make it too reminiscent of King Ralph
    3. Making it a real satire would work. However, rather than basing it in 2001, base it in 1997 and make it so that Bill “did not have sex with that woman” – Dave did.


  2. UK_Wanderer #

    I love the quote from Dave whilst he’s messing with the Robot Arms…..

    “once I caught a fish………..this big”

    Some films it would be impossible to remake. Certain classics like “the searchers” without John Wayne would just not work.


  3. Saint #

    Desperately Seeking Susan should be remade.

    As awesome as it is to watch Madonna wander around pre-Giuliani Greenwich Village in what is probably the only part she was ever qualified to play, she was never charismatic enough to justify the premise. Rosanna Arquette was cooler as a Jersey housewife than Madonna as a proto-club kid.

    Jackie Stacey’s essay “Desperately Seeking Difference” outlines a feminist psychoanalytic interpretation of Arquette’s homoerotic female spectatorship that turns the film into a lesbian version of The Talented Mr. Ripley.

    On that note, Single White Female should be remade, too, but with two good actresses instead of a good actress and Bridget Fonda.


  4. Mark #

    I wonder if there’s a measurable spike in bittorrent downloads of old, relatively-obscure movies you mention when you post one of these.


  5. Jonathan #

    On Dave’s darker remake premise:

    Why do 2001 when it can be 2009? Same things apply right? Charisma over expertise?


  6. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Jonathan: To be fair (and depressing), you could probably set Dave any time in the past 50 years and get across the same theme.


  7. Equinspire #

    I voted Starfighter. Partly because it would be awesome, and partly because I’ve been wondering what that movie was called for aaages! I’ve only ever seen the start of it because the videotape died back in the day…

    Speaking of remakes, I’m still astonished that the ad I saw for Pink Panther 2 on the side of a bus wasn’t an April Fools’ Day prank!


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