The Thing, Scarface, The Departed, The Wizard of Oz, A Fistful of Dollars, these films have two things in common. One, they’re all genre-defining films that are considered some of the best ever made and two they’re all remakes. In the current cinema landscape it seems half the films released are a remake of some sort and while the films mentioned are proof that this isn’t necessarily negative, most remakes feel insincere and appear to be nothing more than quick cash grabs backed by sentiment and nostalgia. Unfortunately many remakes are consistently making the same mistakes falling into a series of way too common pitfalls.
One of the key faults is the lack of time between remakes. The original Scarface was released in 1932 while the remake was released 51 years after the original and although it owes a lot to the original it still stands alone with its unique perspective emulating the zeitgeist of the time.
Meanwhile the studios today remake films as quickly as possible. The original Death At A Funeral was released in 2007 and the remake in 2010; the Korean action film Oldboy in 2003 and the American remake in 2013. Even the 2004 horror film The Grudge is a remake of Ju-On: The Grudge, released just two years prior.
Another common fault with many remakes is an over reliance on computer generated effects. No matter how well done it is, the artificial feel of CGI will always bleed through. John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic The Thing – itself a remake – relied almost exclusively on practical effects that were present and interacted with actors. Meanwhile the 2011 remake was almost completely CGI, losing any aspect of immersion and detracted from the movie.
The most common mistake made by remakes is that they’re too similar to the original movies and they end up feeling outdated. The 1998 Psycho, Carrie, Oldboy, Brick Mansions and Red Dawn are almost carbon copies of the original films that inspired them.
Remakes don’t necessarily indicate a lack of input or creativity but if they keep making common mistakes – which they’re prone to commit – they’ll never be seen as anything but watered down versions of far superior films. Unfortunately this trend doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing. Every year seems to promise more and more remakes including Roadhouse, Big Trouble in Little China, An American Werewolf in London and a remake to the 2011 action film The Raid. Directors who aim to inject new life into these stories can produce great films, but those who simply want to cash in on an established franchise are doomed to make films that add to the ever-growing pile to be quickly forgotten.
– Zaid Al-Kazemi