The film industry is constantly remaking classics and box office winners. Here are some of the boldest changes that divided audiences into loving or hating a remake.
King Kong – Time period
The original King Kong was released in 1933, and the epic story seems to be retold every 30 or so years.
Many mistakenly look at the Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong as the first remake of the classic film, as it shares familiar aspects with the original such as the setting of Depression-era New York City, however, a different spin was put on Kong in 1976.
The film took place in the 70s, which drastically changed the film's New York climax. It’s harder to believe that this era’s police and army couldn’t take down a roaming giant ape prior to his World Trade Centre climb.
Missing in this edition is the iconic Empire State Building finale as well as the dinosaurs on Skull Island.
Disney’s Jungle Book – Animation to live action
In recent years, Disney has realised that their classic stories can be recreated in new styles for modern audiences. Examples include 2010’s Alice in Wonderland and 2015’s Cinderella but their most ambitious project to date was 2016’s Jungle Book.
Disney’s animated 1967 Jungle Book was an elegant combination of animation and song that proved an instant hit. The 2016 film, however, featured state of the art CGI animals and a distinctly darker but more realistic backdrop.
The 2016 version might be more realistic, but that doesn’t mean it lost the fun of the 1967 version. We still have the classic memorable songs as sung by some of Hollywood’s best including Bill Murray and Christopher Walkern.
You owe it to yourself to hear Christopher Walkern singing “I Wanna Be Like You” (above). It is an experience in itself.
Psycho – Shot for shot remake
Caution: Contains violence
The 1998 remake of Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho, is seen by many as unnecessary.
Although this version features a few noticeable changes, such as the fact that it's filmed in colour whereas the original was black and white, it's essentially a shot by shot remake.
What is the purpose of this remake other than a director paying tribute? The old version was new, and this new version feels old.
The Amazing Spider-Man – With great power comes great responsibility
Spider-Man may have first been created in 1962, but his popularity has continued to grow over the years, with three different actors portraying the character on the big screen since 2002 in three different film series.
The problem with rebooting a popular film series is that it becomes difficult to make it stand out and feel original. 2012's Amazing Spider-Man tried its best to be separated from its predecessor but that also lead to certain features being left out.
An iconic element in the Spider-Man mythos is Uncle Ben's 'Great Power' speech that inspires Peter to become Spider-Man, but in the 2012 film this was altered.
The iconic speech was changed to avoid hitting similar notes to the previous film but that just made it more noticeable. Imagine if James Bond forgot the ‘Bond’ before telling his full name. It’s just wrong.
Ghostbusters – Gender swaps
The 2016 version of Ghostbusters follows a similar storyline to the original with fun and quirky characters leading the group, yet, fans were heavily divided.
The film has the most disliked trailer of all time on youtube and many theorise that this is due to the female casting. It may be understandable for negative responses if the characters were forced female copies of the originals but they were not. They each had original personalities, characterisation and motivations.
The film ended up doing pretty well at the box office but negative first impressions stopped it being one of the biggest successes of 2016.
The Wicker Man – Saying goodbye to unique moments
While the 1973 mystery horror original is known as a British cult classic, its 2006 American remake is more memorable due to its Razzie nominations for Worst Film, two very different audience responses.
Gone are the strange yet wonderful musical numbers, replaced with several scenes of Nicholas Cage screaming at bees. The remake tries something different with bee and hive metaphors for the island but the lack of genuine fear that surrounded the original makes this feel like a wasted experience.
Planet of the Apes – Apes over humans
Planet of the Apes was originally a sci-fi adventure about a planet ruled by humanoid apes. This concept is ridiculous yet delightful, with audiences loving it so much that countless sequels were spawned. Although these may have led to the disappointing Tim Burton remake in 2011, this film gave way to the gripping prequel/remake series of 2011.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a convincing modern day story in which apes are being experimented on to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Rather than find a cure, this leads to the creation of smart apes, which in turn leads to a lot of conflict. Gone are the rubber suits and in their place are convincing motion capture performances.
Unlike the original film, which depicted the humans as heroes, Rise of the Planet of the Apes succeeded in a full 360 with the humans becoming the antagonists as the audience come to root for the intelligent apes.
Fantastic Four – Dark and no heart
Josh Trank’s reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise didn’t seem to go to plan for producers or fans. Seemingly inspired by the darker tone of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Tranks version features some of the best young working actors of today paired with a bland and heartless story that didn’t fully utilise their skills.
Its not clear how this film ended up being so disappointing. Conflicting rumours state studio interference or allegedly erratic behaviour from the director.
The Fantastic Four comic book stories actually focus on a family trying to protect the Earth. The closest film version to this would be Pixar’s The Incredibles, sadly not one of the three films entitled Fantastic Four.
Halloween – Gritty origin story
John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween is a pioneer in the slasher horror film genre and Michael Myers became one of the Horror genre's most iconic villains. Quite ironic when you consider that the mask used in the film was just a William Shatner mask painted white!
The film was remade as part of the Horror resurgence in the mid-2000s with Rob Zombie taking over the series and making it as brooding as possible.
Seeing an in-depth origin story of the killer is an interesting idea but it makes what was a mysterious villain, a sympathetic character. This was a confusing addition as we then witness him go on a killing spree which immediately strips away any sympathy we had developed for him.
Origin stories work for some characters but a sense of mystery is the scariest trait of all.
The Thing – Shape-shifting
It may be a surprise to hear that one of the main ingredients of John Carpenter's The Thing didn’t appear in the original 1951 film The Thing From Another World and that is the alien’s ability to shape shift.
The 1982 film is a fine example of practical effects and the atmospheric distress that they can create. The gore and violence surrounding the alien is beautifully horrific.
The 1951 version concludes clearly with the heroes defeating the monster. However, the bleak tone of the 1982 versions continues into the final moments in which we are left to question, *spoiler*, whether one of our heroes is actually our monster in disguise.
Both are great pieces of their time that make you appreciate what came before and love what came after.
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