Remakes have been happening on film ever since someone put an original idea on screen. While these have led to some excellent stories like the Humphrey Bogart-starring The Maltese Falcon or John Carpenter’s The Thing, most remakes lead to poor comparisons to the original and a general lamenting of the lack of originality in the movie system. But any money-making franchise or recognized name courts ideas of new films and bigger box office grosses. As such, the remake will never be a dead concept. And with the idea of reboots permeating the moviegoing consciousness (which is really just a remake hoping for a big franchise), there are few films that are truly spared from the possibility of being remade.
The following five films should never be remade in any shape or form on film due to various reasons and if they never happen, we’ll all be better off. On the more positive side, I’ve also selected five films that deserve remakes/reboots due to missed opportunities and the real chance for a far better film. Together, these show the double edged sword that is remaking movies.
The movies on this list are currently not in contention for a remake for better or worse. This means that films that currently have a remake/reboot in the works (like Big Trouble in Little China) or that have already been remade are not in contention for the list. In addition, movies that are definitely not getting remade anytime soon have been left off for the sake of more interesting discussion, so no Star Wars or Jurassic Park.
Have your own opinions on remakes? Let me know in the comments section at the bottom!
Remakes That Should Never Happen
The original Hollywood blockbuster and a defining film for generations, the original Jaws is easily one of the greatest films ever made. However, constant complaints by modern audiences about the fakeness of the shark (get a grip on cinema, people) have dated the film for some people today. In addition, the success of Jurassic World has shown producers that there is still plenty of weight, and money to be made, in revitalizing Steven Spielberg’s classic movies. Rumors have circulated that Jaws is ripe for a remake or reboot, but whichever way they go, it’s not going to end well.
Jaws is the result of an incredibly talented filmmaker, an awesome script, and an insanely talented cast coming together and pushing through absolutely terrible filming circumstances to make something they believed in. It was a perfect storm of talent and timing, cooked in a high pressure environment that brought out the best in everyone. That’s something that can’t be replicated. Sure, the money may be up for grabs if marketed right like Jurassic World, but money does not equal merit and remaking Jaws is along the same lines of thinking as remaking Star Wars. Don’t let money and buzz blind you from the quality of art and a proper respect toward film history.
You can substitute in Gone With the Wind or any other Hollywood classic for Casablanca and the reasons are still the same. These films have stood the test of time and have influenced generations of filmmakers and audiences alike. A movie like Casablanca is the epitome of the term “timeless” and anything that can be described as such is in no need of updating or modernization. Made in the studio system of the ‘40s that saw an endless stream of movies spat out by actors and directors on exclusive contracts to studios, Casablanca is the perfect confluence of talent at the right moment, which created something truly special and endlessly enjoyable.
Without a doubt, Casablanca has long solidified its place in film history and is still loved today due to its classic Hollywood charm and true quality. No one is looking at Casablanca in a positive light simply due to sentimentality; it’s far too old for that. Remaking this film would be like a painter saying he or she could do The Mona Lisa better. Why would you even try? You can’t and everyone will hate you for trying.
Back to the Future
The Back to the Future Trilogy is a joyful mix of being both a classic and dated in the best sense. While the then-present ‘80s setting is now clearly of its time, it works perfectly today, as the film is a trip back in time for viewers, who are then sent further back in time within the movie itself. Any remake would like eliminate the time period for a modern present day, which would remove the charm, or redo the ‘80s, which would be both artificial and completely pointless. Neither option has any real merit, which shows the futility of any remake attempt at its very core.
Not only that, but the characters of Doc Brown and Marty McFly are 100% tied to actors Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. Recasting would be a disservice to some of sci-fi’s greatest characters and anyone stepping into the role would either ape the original actors or break away completely, which would ruin the dynamic between the leads. Thankfully, Robert Zemeckis has said that a Back to the Future remake will never happen so long as he is alive.
Hollywood and grumpy old Bruce Willis have been sucking the Die Hard franchise dry for some time now, with the latest, A Good Day to Die Hard, being the cinematic equivalent of a stranger pooping in your hand. And when this franchise finally breathes its last breaths, you can be sure that studios will be looking to capitalize on the name with a reboot. While that makes sense in theory – a revitalization of the recognized franchise with a promise to return to its roots – the chance that this remake or reboot would be anywhere near as good as the original is slim to none. Most likely, audiences would get a watered down PG-13 version that satisfies no one.
To see all the ways that a Die Hard remake could go wrong, you have to look no further than the slew of ‘80s remakes that have hit the screens in recent years. RoboCop, The Karate Kid, Fright Night, A Nightmare on Elm Street – all of these have sought to restart a franchise and get a new generation of fans onboard. Few have been a box office success and absolutely none have replaced the originals in the hearts and minds of fans, even the ones that never saw the originals. This is simply a terrible idea. Go nowhere near it.
North by Northwest
This can basically apply to most Hitchcock films, but since Psycho has already been remade and you have to be a complete fool to remake Vertigo, North by Northwest is the perfect example of a film that seems ripe for a remake, but should never happen. Thanks to its charm, style, and espionage, North by Northwest is thought of as the prototype for the James Bond movies, but is actually far better than 95% of them. And if Bond can be reborn again and again, why not redo a piece of old Hollywood with better special effects, a modern actor, and a chance for a bigger scope? Maybe because artistic talent will beat out film budget every time.
Who could ever replace Carey Grant, not just in North by Northwest but in almost any of his starring roles? Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial style was not only powerful, but it has influenced generations of filmmakers, meaning that those seeking to update his takes on film would seem derivative and even sacrilegious. In addition, the ideas and stunts performed in North by Northwest have been copied and updated in countless movies since. While the original still retains its freshness, a remake would seem extremely blasé when the film’s formula has been regurgitated so many times since. Hitchcock was a master at his craft. Redoing a master’s work never invites favorable discussion.
Remakes That Should Happen
Super Mario Bros.
Just one of the many examples of video game film adaptations gone wrong, Super Mario Bros. was such a misfire that Nintendo swore off film adaptations of their games. While the videogame franchise is not the ripest for film adaptation (plumbers fight mushrooms and turtles in a psychedelic kingdom to rescue a princess), the original movie is such a massively terrible film that seemed determined to get everything it did wrong that a new version is desperately needed. Specifically, the Super Mario Bros. movie tried to take the ideas of the game and translate them into live action real world-based analogs, which simply meant a bunch of garbled nonsense was thrown onto the screen.
A new Super Mario Bros. movie should be animated so that the videogame elements can stay intact without feeling weird in a live action setting and the same creative energy that brought The LEGO Movie to vivid life should be applied. There are so many iconic elements, characters, and settings that could be mined by a proper animated movie that a well-done film could be pure glee in cinematic form.
David Lynch’s Dune may be loved by many, but the original film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel is a mess. Given that Herbert’s novel spawned five sequels that led to many non-film adaptations and a massive cult following, it’s shocking that no studio has put forward a new big screen version of the series. In the right hands and with a bold desire to chase something that isn’t derivative of every other big budget movie that hits the screens every year, a new version of Dune could be an exciting proposition for not only an epic film, but a huge film series.
The ideas on display in this science fiction epic tracking a feudal war in an intergalactic empire based around ecological resources combines sci-fi and fantasy in ways that differentiate it from Star Wars or other well-known properties. Specifically, the 2014 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune has shown the vast potential within the property and what could have happened in a film version. A movie big enough to encapsulate the book may be a risk, but the rewards are incentive enough for studios to take the chance.
One exception to the rule in this reboot of a reboot that just happened in 2015, but it’s clear that a property with so much greatness like the Fantastic Four deserves a film that is just as good. As one of the first superhero comics in the Silver Age of Marvel, there are countless wonderful stories told in Fantastic Four comics, ranging from old school adventures written by Stan Lee to mind-bending cosmic journeys being written today. But the casual Marvel movie watcher would never know, seeing as there has never been a remotely good Fantastic Four movie despite four of them being made. These range from hilariously low budget to super cheesy to just downright depressing, all due to Fox Studios poor efforts at creating something special and instead simply making a movie to retain the rights to the characters.
In a dream scenario, Marvel Studios would get the rights back to The Fantastic Four and their villains in order to incorporate them into their Cinematic Universe. But rather than give them another movie, they could introduce the four heroes individually in different films, making cameos and supporting the main stars of various movies. Marvel could introduce them as having already gained their powers and formed The Fantastic Four, but disbanded and working separately due to a tragedy that befell the team. As each member is introduced, Dr. Doom becomes the overarching villain in the MCU following the defeat of Thanos until a massive Avengers movies sees the villain defeating Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, only to be confronted with and defeated by the newly reformed Fantastic Four, who come to save the day in a triumphant rebirth. Cue new Fantastic Four movie.
Howard the Duck
Another comic book property that got the short end of the stick when it came to movies, the anthropomorphic wisecracking detective that is Howard the Duck isn’t the easiest property to translate to the big screen, but the right adaptation would be a slice of fried gold. The ‘80s George Lucas-produced bomb is one of the hallmarks in bad movies thanks to its terrible costuming, incredibly dumb storytelling, and truly awkward romance. It also didn’t help that this harder edged comic book satire was turned into an all ages comedy that simply didn’t know what it was, yet still thought it was intelligent. Nothing about the original Howard the Duck movie can be classified as remotely enjoyable, which is a disservice to a well-loved and interesting character.
Thanks to his cameo in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy, Howard the Duck is back in the public’s consciousness and has a well-loved new ongoing comic book series that embraces the best parts of the character. Like the original comics and those continuing today, a Howard the Duck movie could be a hilarious lampooning of everything in the superhero genre, which would give a healthy and much needed break within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given that the upcoming Deadpool movie looks to be breaking the fourth wall for a breath of fresh air in comic book movies, the original comic book meta character could do something special and incredibly enjoyable.
This one may need to wait a few more years until people care again, but there is a truly awesome movie that can be made out of the video game series Doom. While the 2005 Rock-starring vehicle attempted to replicate the thrills and action of this long-loved videogame franchise, a devastating lack of understanding and fairly low quality execution meant this was just another terrible videogame film adaptation. The original Doom videogame and its many sequels revolve around a portal to Hell opening up on an experimental military base on Mars, which unleashes thousands of demons and all manner of techno-organic creatures to slaughter anyone in their way. The movie adaptation followed some weird virus that made The Rock turn bad. What happened?
Doom could be made as a hard R action film in the style of ‘80s movies crossed with the horror genre for a thrilling and terrifying ride, which is exactly what has kept fans coming back to the game again and again. Put in the right hands, given the right budget, and given enough time to create a proper adaptation that doesn’t fall into the cheese and cable movie-like filming of so many other videogame films, and Doom could be legitimately great.