To this day I still watch a lot of classic movies, and by classic I mean movies from the 1930's to the 1970's. Movies from that time period didn't have a lot of options in the effects and sound department compared to today's standards, so they are often movies that relied on excellent acting and directing to deliver their stories. I have a stockpile of movies on my 'still need to see' list (which seems to be ever expanding and absolutely endless) and around 70% of them would fall into the classic film category. Most of them are very good, some of them are downright legendary and could not be improved upon by a remake, but some of them certainly could.
To be better than the original movie, there needs to be an improvement on all fronts, and not just in the effects department, because if the storyline is thin then my attention is never held for very long by CGI effects and all of the other bells and whistles that filmmakers feel compelled to throw at movies. For me, there needs to be something fresh about a remake that warrants the movie being remade in the first place. The perspective needs to alter in some way or the story has to become enhanced or given more depth or meaning in a remake. The actors need to be every bit as good and preferably better than the original actors and the director needs to be an avid fan of the original in a way that forces them to keep the integrity of the original intact, in other words it needs to not feel like a director's ego trip, which has happened so many times in remakes.
There have in fact been heaps of excellent remakes that are deserving of your time, even if you have seen and enjoyed the original version.
Here is my list of the best movie remakes that I have experienced, in no particular order:
Romeo and Juliet -Baz Luhrmann perfectly remixed this Shakespearean classic by installing a couple of modern heart-throbs and infusing it with a funky fresh soundtrack, and it is slice of pure brilliance.
Mad Max: Fury Road - I also really liked the original, but the heart-pounding, high octane, adrenaline rush action of the remake was just so damn good, oh and Tom Hardy was in it, definitely a bonus.
The Jungle Book - Jon Favreau's version of this Rudyard Kipling's classic is a perfect example of how CGI can be used to enhance an experience. It is magical!
Dawn of the Dead - This comedy/ horror homage to George A. Romero from Zack Snyder is a brain eating spectacular, so much blood and tasteless humour!
Blair Witch - I didn't really like The Blair Witch Project original, but I really got creeped out by the 2016 remake that was simply called Blair Witch. Kept me away from camping for years!
A Star is Born - remade four times, and finally they got it right! The onscreen chemistry of Coops and Gaga and the modern musical score made this new take an old romance a real winner.
Ghostbusters - The girls had a swing at it in 2016 and were every bit as good as the boys were in 1984, and they didn't try to 'remake' it so much as have another go at something similar and I enjoyed it a lot.
The Ring - The 1998 Japanese version was still really good, but the 2002 Gore Verbinski English language remake had an expanded storyline and some extra creepy CGI visuals. The acting was seriously stepped up in this version as well.
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Dracula has been done to death (pardon the pun) but when Francis Ford Coppola had a go, well it was just magic, finally something Stoker would've loved!
IT - Probably the best horror remake of all time, the effects and storyline have been fine tuned to perfection, unmissable remake material.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -Tim Burton takes us on a delicious and disturbing romp into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in this accurate realisation of Roald Dahl's classic tale that his own family were involved in creating.
King Kong - Peter Jackson's epic realisation of Skull Island and the tragic tale of Mighty Kong is by far the best version to see for all of it's impressive CGI effects and in depth story telling.
Release Date: 2016
Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 79 mins
I was never a big fan of 1999 movie The Blair Witch Project, which got the biggest and most controversial movie advertising campaign that I can recall that year. And even though critics heavily disagree with me here and prefer the original offering to this new version; I am sticking to my horror loving guns when I tell you that this film is genuinely creepy as hell.
James's sister Heather went missing years ago in the Burkittsville forest whilst investigating the legend of the Blair Witch, convinced that she may still be alive, he rallies together a group of friends to join him in the woods in an attempt to find her and unravel the mystery of the Blair Witch.
The found footage film style does it make it hard to gauge what is actually going on all of the time, but this film is supposed to be disorientating, that's what the Blair Witch movies are all about so it didn't bother me in the least. I actually liked the 2000 version Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 as well, which also got an absolute slamming from critics.
The acting is actually pretty decent for a low budget horror movie and I thought that Callie Hernandez in particular was really strong, especially since she just needed to look convincingly terrified throughout, which she somehow managed to do with an escalating urgency.
I personally do find the idea of being lost in the woods for days and days on end (particularly in an unending darkness) a pretty scary and unsettling concept, so maybe that's why I like these movies as much as I do, that and the fact that they are about the legend of an old witch that haunts the woods, and I sure do love a witch tale.
FINAL SAY: There's something out there.
3.5 Chilli Peppers