by Luke Hickman
Two major remakes are coming to the big screen this weekend - 'Footloose' and 'The Thing.' Sure, 'The Thing' is technically a prequel, but when you see it you'll know why it's still considered a remake. While one of these movies is sure to change your outlook on remakes for the worse ('Footloose'), the other will build you up into believing that well-written remakes can be just as good as the classic original films they're based upon ('The Thing').
With this weekend featuring two remakes, we figured it would be fun to think back to some of the worst recent remakes. While browsing through lists of remakes to refresh my memory, I realized just how many bad remakes are out there. This list could potentially be one-hundred long. You could easily make a list of bad foreign-language to English remakes, bad '70s remakes, bad reboots, et cetera - but I've narrowed it down to just five of the very worst remakes to ever hit the silver screen. Some of them tarnish the franchise they represent, while others are plain and simple terrible movies – no matter what you think of the original.
I'm not a diehard lover of the campy cult classic of the same title, but the remake of 'Clash of the Titans' starring Sam Worthington is nonetheless awful, without a doubt one of the worst films of 2010. From the director of the first two 'Transporter' movies, the remake tells the story of Zeus' mortal son (Worthington) who must win a godly war on Earth in order to save not only his own world, but also the throne of Mount Olympus as Hades tries taking over.
Each of the many characters is disconnected from the audience; you don't care what happens to a single one of them. The roles could just have easily been filled with robots – which I'm sure have the capability of giving out better performances than Sam Worthington.
'Clash of the Titan' tries being a well-rounded epic film, but it's bogged down with too much fluff to lend it any sort of focus. There are too many characters, too many unimportant love stories, too many pointless and drab action sequences, too many plotholes and too many bad hazy special effects shots.
The topper to 'Clash of the Titans' was its laughable half-assed 3D transfer. Instead of giving any sort of third dimension effects, it was like watching the movie on a sheet that was blowing back and forth in a breeze. Depth was absent, edges weren't defined and the characters had a black halo-like shadows following them around. For a minute there, I thought (and hoped) that 'Clash of the Titans' would bring the end of 3D. Miraculously, it didn't – and somehow it was successful enough that it spawned a sequel due out next year. Here's to hoping the sequel at least has an ounce of effort put into it.
The 1951 original version of 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' is one of the best science fiction movies of all time. To this day, it is still studied in film classes for exemplifying not only the potential of the genre, but the era that it represents and the way that traditional science fiction films came about.
Early science fiction films were used to explore the consequences of new technologies through symbolic social scenarios of the time. They implied things that were not acceptable to openly say in those days, topics of social relevance. 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' was a cautionary tale about the misuse of atomic weapons and how incessant violence and wars will destroy the planet. It challenged its viewers to make a change in their own lives, closing with the line, “The decision rests with you.”
At first glance, the original may seem like a standard old movie, but when you look a little deeper you discover that it's actually quite a hearty film. Watching the remake is especially painful because it bastardizes the original's high quality.
A human-looking alien being emerges from a space ship in Central Park and immediately shot by paranoid troops. While he bears no threat, officials lock him up. He escapes, meets another alien friend stationed on Earth and decides that humans are too destructive, so he's going to “cleanse” the planet of their existence so it can sustain worthy life forms.
Instead of featuring a relevant current sociopolitical issue, the remake brings religion into the equation. Our alien walks on water, makes Noah's ark and brings a dead man back to life. Religion isn't a bad thing to have in a film, but it's nothing close to the weight that the original carried.
The biggest self-destructive fault of the remake is the way that it tries shaping the story into the mold of a blockbuster – something that this story is utterly incapable of doing. The countless unnecessary CG scenes – which don't even look good – are completely unfitting of the story at hand and turn it into a failed popcorn movie.
The 2007 British farcical comedy 'Death at a Funeral' is one of the last films in the world to need a remake – especially just three years later that turns it into a black slapstick comedy.
Directed by Frank Oz, the original follows a dysfunctional family on the day of the father's funeral. One thing the British understand is farce. Mix that with their wry sense of humor and you've got an entertaining and zany blend of comedy. But hand it over to an award-winning white playwright with a terrible track record of filmmaking who adapts it into a Tyler Perry-esque comedy, and you've got a complete trainwreck on your hands.
Neither writer/director Neil LaBute nor his cast (Chris Rock, Danny Glover, Martin Lawrence or Tracy Morgan) seem to have any idea what farce is all about; they play it out like straight black comedy. The only two actors who seem to have their acts together are Zoe Saldana and James Marsden, but even their great performances aren't enough to save this film from crashing and burning. What should feel like an entertaining and brisk 92-minute ride turns into a frustrating, dragged out, slug-paced nightmare.
The 'Death at a Funeral' films are on opposite ends of the spectrum. One is brilliant and worthy of your attention, the other so tragically awful that you wouldn't make your worst enemy watch it. But no matter how bad the remake is, it's simply cannot tarnish the great image of the original.
Having such high expectations for the summer blockbuster (and having not yet learned about Roland Emmerich), my friends and I raced from our high school graduation ceremony straight over to the local Cinemark to catch an opening-day showing of 'Godzilla.' Even then, as a 17-year-old film-ignorant fool, I recognized how bad Emmerich's 'Godzilla' was.
There have been many bad 'Godzilla' remakes over the years, but the 1998 effects-filled blockbuster had the potential to be one of the good ones. Because that potential wasn't even close to being realized, I deem it the worst of them all.
Prior to 'Godzilla,' we had already seen two 'Jurassic Park' movies that successfully did what 'Godzilla' couldn't. Yes, I'm aware of the lack of quality of 'The Lost World,' but that sequel is far superior to anything 'Godzilla' has to offer.
The last thing that a 'Godzilla' remake needs is an ensemble disaster flick treatment. Emmerich's over-the-top ridiculousness causes a lack of realism to prevail his movies. For example, 'Godzilla' lets the over-grown iguana lay hundreds of eggs in Madison Square Garden without anyone taking notice. Later on, our “heroes” drive a taxi into Godzilla's mouth. C'mon. I went in expecting something along the lines of 'Cloverfield' and got nothing more than live-action 'Looney Tunes.'
Most classic horror movies are much better than the torture porn flicks studios try passing off as horror these days. Torture porn is nothing more than horror with a lack of innovation and creativity. Instead of finding new ways to be scary, they try stirring up fear-driven emotion by relentlessly showing gruesome and disturbing images on screen. There's nothing scary about it; it's just gross. And that's the angle that shouldn't-be director Rob Zombie took with his 2007 remake of the 1978 classic 'Halloween.'
The story itself isn't all that far off from the original, but Zombie places his over-indulgent “disturbing stamp” from 'The House of 1000 Corpses' and 'The Devil's Rejects' all over it, ruining the feel and tone of a classic horror movie. Falling into the torture porn genre, it's violence is far more grizzly and shocking than that of the original. It's not fun nor scary to watch, just gross, dumb and braindead.
Out of his four major films, Zombie has failed to prove that he has any talent in the area of filmmaking. Each of his films is atrocious. One would easily assume that because of his nature and persona, Zombie would be a great contributor to the horror genre – but he's not. Zombie has tarnished the image of the genre and the franchise. The only thing worse than his 'Halloween' remake is his 2009 sequel.