A couple of weeks ago, I watched Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. I remember feeling disappointed in the ending when I first saw it at the cinema (to be fair, the original was a hard act to follow).
I particularly enjoyed Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Limbo, the slave trader, who got one of the best lines in the whole movie: "The last thing anybody wants is a human teenager in the house." If I had to choose, I’d say the remake was an improvement on the original.
More often than not though, I don’t think remakes work out very well. Dated as it now seems, I’d rather watch the original Clash of the Titans (1981), complete with clockwork owl, any day of the week, and if you ask me, Ernie Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner (1940), knocks spots of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan version (renamed You’ve Got Mail (1998)).
Sometimes a remake is just as good. In addition to Jimmy Stewart in The Shop Around the Corner, we watch both the original, 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street and the 1994 remake (starring Richard Attenborough) every Christmas – the less said about the one they made in 1973 with Sebastian Cabot, the better.
Then there are those rare occasions when the remake is so much better than the original it gives you hope for future attempts. On a technicality, I won’t count The Lord of the Rings (2001) as a remake (since the original 1978 version wasn’t live action) and Peter Jackson’s other excellent re-imagining, King Kong (2005), while far better than the 1973 version has such a technological advantage over the 1933 original, it’s not a fair comparison.
If I had to choose a favorite, I’d go for The Italian Job (2003), starring Mark Wahlberg.
I love the 1969 original, with Michael Caine in the lead role – I even used the last line from that movie ("Hang on a minute, lads. I've got a great idea.") as a chapter ending in my book, Fur-Face. Even so, Donna and Wendy Powers did such a great job re-imagining Troy Kennedy-Martin’s original screenplay, I have to admit the newer version was even better.
How about you?
What’s your favorite movie remake?