There are a lot of great remakes out there. Joe Wright’s “Pride and Prejudice” is one, and Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” is another. But there are also plenty of horrible remakes that almost make you want to stop the practice altogether (“Superman,” I’m talking to you).
So when it comes to movies that would have been best left to their original interpretations, here’s the short list:
I have nothing against Julia Ormond, but let’s be honest: she’s no Audrey Hepburn.
As a young child, I grew up on the black-and-white classics, from “Roman Holiday” to “Love in the Afternoon,” and there’s no one in the world more graceful than Audrey. While this is a strong personal opinion, I would make the claim that at least the box office agrees with me (factoring for inflation, the original made 40 million more dollars at the box office).
While Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear were equally amiable, the magic just wasn’t the same as a dashing William Holden and the distinguished Humphrey Bogart. I know Ormond got plenty of static for trying to recreate the classic, saying, “I’m not trying to recreate Hepburn; I’m trying to recreate Sabrina.” but it still falls short. Sorry, Julie.
Ever since I watched “True Blood,” I’ve had a soft spot for Alex Skarsgaard. Stellan’s exceptionally gifted son is someone I always enjoy watching, except in this latest rendition of one my favorite movies.
Phil Collins and Disney made the perfect Tarzan tale that just can’t be recreated with live action, Margot Robbie and lots of CGI. When tales are already unbelievable on their own, they need elements to ground them in reality or at least something to take them so far out of reality that no one tries to believe it. With the children’s musical version, there are talking animals and animation, making it a total fantasy. In the remake, there are real people trying to interact with giant gorillas, and it doesn’t pass off as authentic to either fantasy or reality. In my mind, it’s just a waste of a great story and a missed chance to listen to some great tunes.
For me, the Phil version wins every time.
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender
There were so many things wrong with M. Night Shyamalan’s remake of the Nickelodeon series that I don’t even know where to begin—except that this movie was totally sabotaged before it even got started.
First, they cast predominantly white actors in Asian roles, which was horrible, and they ended up pronouncing a lot of the names incorrectly. Then they botched the plotline of the story so much that it’s hard to follow. Finally, the script was dangerously lacking in any believable situations or lines. Ultimately, you’ve got a movie that had so much potential to be exceptional (because Shyamalan can make great films) but instead fell short.
Another childhood favorite, the musical “Annie” has always had a special place in my heart for Carol Burnett’s brilliant turn as Miss Hannigan, but it’s the quirky title role played by Aileen Quinn that cemented it as a favorites for all time contender for me. The modern version? A little less so.
While I have to give it to the director on account of the diversity he added to the 2014 version—Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis were excellent choices—the overarching theme of a young girl living in an orphanage run by a disgruntled, kid-hating woman is a little too close for comfort in our modern world. It just doesn’t have the same whimsy as the one set in the 1920s. Call me old-fashioned, but the pill is easier to swallow when it’s a historical anecdote rather than a modern uptake. I just spent the entire movie thinking about all the real-world kids living in New York City without parents to love them and no Daddy Warbucks.
While I love Kenneth Branagh to the moon and back, his 2015 Cinderella was something of a letdown. The movie was beautiful, and the characters were well cast, but the fairytale needed a bit more depth for a live-action rendition. The movie had beautiful costumes that were dreamy, but the lack of script took all the magic out of the tale because it had about the same amount of dialogue as the animated classic, which made it, at some points, laughably unbelievable.
I’m going to cross my fingers that the next Disney live-action remake, “Beauty and the Beast,” set to be released on March 17, 2017, doesn’t suffer the same fate.
While the new soundtrack (and amazing singing voice of Naturi Naughton) was excellent, the rest of the new “Fame” underwhelmed when compared to its older counterpart.
By downgrading its rating to PG and perfecting all the real-world problems of the original characters, the new version just looked and sounded pretty, without having any real meaning that the 1980s hit was famous for. Plus, I went to a performing arts high school, and while some of the plots were believable, we never had jam sessions in the cafeteria at lunch that included impromptu song and dance numbers. It may look good, but it’s totally unbelievable.
Don’t feel like I’m giving the remakes enough credit? Try watching the originals and the remakes side by side at your next Netflix marathon. Maybe I am wrong, but I dare you to prove it!
Have more suggestions about original films that are better than their remakes? Comment below!
About the Author:
Cassie is a glorified book nerd and obsessive movie lover who writes for Culture Coverage and Secure Thoughts. She’s willing to devote endless days to mindless wandering through old, dusty libraries or searching for an indie film at some ultra-cool, vintage movie theater.