August 3rd, 2012
01:19 PM ET

Friday's Top Five: Best remakes

“Come on, Cohaagen! You got what you want. Give those people air!” – Douglas Quaid, "Total Recall" (1990)

Along with dozens of other classic one-liners like the one above, the original "Total Recall" was a sci-fi trip to Mars starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was at his peak of action-film stardom and helped make this movie an instant classic.

Colin Farrell will fill Arnie’s shoes in 2012's eagerly awaited remake, which opens in theaters today.

Generally speaking, the quality of remakes can be unpredictable. Last year's "Footloose" seemed like a good idea, but it received mixed reviews from critics and fans. We do seem to get more misfires than big hits when it comes to remakes, but it’s also undeniable that they tap into our culture’s collective sense of nostalgia.

Moving forward, let’s make one thing clear: Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and "The Amazing Spider-Man" are not remakes, they’re reboots.  Remakes rely on the original films’ stories, whereas reboots start fresh.

The latter category has become increasingly popular, particularly when it comes to resuscitating franchises, with studios going back to the drawing board and producing a new creative direction rather than continuing where the previous sequels left off. (Or, in some cases, before they began, i.e. prequels like "Prometheus," "Star Wars" 1-3, "The Hobbit," etc.)

And for what it’s worth, even my 3-year-old has figured out the reboot formula. After watching trailers for the "Amazing Spider-Man," she instantly referred to it as “Different Spider-Man.” With this distinction out of the way, we can focus on remakes.

It’s clear that Hollywood will remake just about anything that they think will make money, and I wish that studio research teams would survey audiences to find out what we’d like to have remade.

Personally, I’d love to see a remake of "Romancing the Stone." I could see James Franco or Ryan Gosling playing Jack T. Colton, and perhaps Amy Adams could play “Just” Joan Wilder. A remake of "Big Trouble in Little China"would also be amazing. Jason Statham as Jack Burton taking on the Lords of Death and Lo Pan would be perfect, don’t you think?

Hopefully the new "Total Recall" will be an exciting, action-packed thrill ride, and just as good as the original. To help celebrate this remake, I thought it fitting to "recall" other notable ones. If you want to go the extra mile, share the classics that you think are just waiting to be remade and tell us who you would cast in the key roles.

1. "Scarface" – This pick may surprise fans who weren’t aware that this film was a remake. Just refer to the dedication in the closing credits, which calls out the director and writer of the original film that inspired the contemporary remake.  It wasn’t about Cubans and cartels then but about wiseguys and bootleggers.

Remake (1983):


Original (1932):


2. "Cape Fear" – Elmer Bernstein’s musical score is a subtle homage to Bernard Herrmann’s original, but the most obvious reference was casting the original cast members, Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, to play supporting roles in Martin Scorsese’s version.

Remake (1991):


Original (1962):


3. "Oceans Eleven" – This remake must have been a casting agent’s dream job. Their mission was to find the highest-profile acting talent of their generation to replace the original Rat Pack.

Remake (2001):


Original (1960):


4. "Father of the Bride" – Perhaps the best contribution to this remake was Martin Short’s role as wedding planner extraordinaire, Franck, and Steve Martin’s grocery story rant about superfluous hot dog buns.

Remake (1991):


Original (1950):


5. "3:10 to Yuma" – This remake captured every mythic motif of the Western film genre:  bordellos; outlaws; lawmen; gunfights; building the railroad; and the frontier - and the tumbleweeds are especially dusty. (It was a toss-up between this pick and the Coen brothers' "True Grit," which was also a stellar Western remake).

Remake (2007):


Original (1957):


Honorable Mentions:

"The Magnificent Seven":  Feudal Japan from the original Kurosawa classic was reset against the backdrop of the Old West with six shooters replacing swords in the hands of the hired warriors.

Remake (1960):


Original ("Seven Samurai," 1954):


"Little Shop of Horrors":  Roger Corman’s original featured a young Jack Nicholson as the masochistic dental patient. The remake’s soundtrack alone upped the ante along with Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops serving as the voice of Audrey II.

Remake (1986):


Original (1960):


"Red Dragon":  Although it didn’t compare to the original in style or cult status, the remake was an obvious vehicle for Anthony Hopkins to reprise his role as Hannibal the Cannibal.

Remake (2002):


Original ("Manhunter," 1986):


soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Planers

    Hello, Neat post. There is a problem along with your site in web explorer, might test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a big component of people will leave out your great writing because of this problem.

    August 8, 2012 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. B-Ran

    The Total Recall remake was AWESOME!!!! I LOVED IT!!! Total Recall was like one of my favorite movies as a kid, it scared the CRAP out of me! When their eyeballs popped out, the taxi driver, when he was pulling the tracer out of his nose. I liked how the remake switched the story around ALOT. So you didn't really know too much on what was coming! Like in the new one, the airport scene has the fat lady that only said "two weeks" And I was like "haha that's him!" but in fact it was the guy behing that chick. I thought they did an awesome job! I wanna go see it again!

    August 6, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    Gladiator was a remake of "The Fall of the Roman Empire"

    August 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. duh

    i can't believe you picked decent movies and not shiz like dark shadows and 21 jump street.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Oh Lord

    Be nice on blogging!

    August 6, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Muffinface

    grow up.

    August 6, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    Original: Lady Snowblood, 1973, by Toshiya Fujita & starring Meiko Kaji.
    Remake: Kill Bill, 2003, by Quentin Tarantino & starring Uma Thurman.

    Well, most of the films by Tarantino are remakes of older movies, just that he calls them "homages" once people find out his originality comes from cutting and pasting pieces of older movies.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. taking to air again

    these people are blind.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Michael Vick©™

    Definitely Scarface hands down.

    August 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hkk

    all movies are great.

    August 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. skipper Sam

    Sabrina 1954 Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden Director: Billy Wilder

    Sabrina 1995 Stars: Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear Director: Sydney Pollack

    August 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    I would love to see a remake of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" with Jessica Lange as Jane Hudson and Meryl Streep as Blanche.

    August 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Captain Obvious

    No room for the 1980s versions of 1950s classics The Thing and The Fly??? Someone should remake this list.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Yosh

      The FLY....good call, can't believe I forgot to mention, in hindsight, it should have made the list!

      August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Allimsayiniz

    I have a nominee: The Thomas Crown Affair. Thought Faye Dunaway was, well, Faya Dunaway in the original, Steve McQueen completely lacked the finesse and polish that was brought to the role by Pierce Brosnan. Pierce was just COOL - completely changed the feel of the film.

    August 5, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Evangelicide

    I'm surprised the MTV produced version of "Wuthering Heights" didn't make the list...



    Thank you, you've been great!

    August 5, 2012 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  16. Tim Clauss

    Hello and be well.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  17. Leon David Peris

    Sunrise is great.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  18. jillmarie

    I enjoyed these remakes of family friendly films
    The Parent Trap
    Freaky Friday
    Ironically starring a pre-trainwreck Lindsay Lohan. She showed such potential.
    I also enjoyed Nightmare On Elm Street, Born Yesterday, and Mr. Deeds.

    August 4, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  19. jb

    Smokey and the Bandit- Second only to Star Wars in 1977:

    Bandit-Brad Pitt
    Frog-Jessica Alba
    Beuford T. Justice- John Goodman
    Junior- Philip Seymour Hoffman

    August 4, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  20. Bruce H.

    "The Maltese Falcon" 1941, best remake ever. It had been filmed twice since the book came out in 1929, but until John Huston and Humprey Bogart got involved, it was a no-show. Please, nobody EVER remake it. (By the way, there's talk of remaking "The Thin Man" 1934. Don't. Bad, bad idea.

    August 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  21. JellyBean


    August 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  22. 《¥》


    August 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  23. 《¥》

    Surface "83" was good. Still.can't watch the part with the guy getting chopped up in the bathtub by the chainsaw

    August 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |

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