by Jason Koenigsberg
Alright so we went over the best remakes and the most unnecessary remakes. But what about remakes of movies that have not happened yet that we could really benefit from? Remakes get a bad reputation because they usually involve filmmakers taking a beloved nostalgic property from our childhood and changing it (or not) and it does not come close to surpassing the original. Films like Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, had no reason to ever be remade because they were practically perfect the first time around. What Fox decided to do with their reboot of The Planet of the Apes series was very smart. They updated the science-fiction-fi classic for modern audiences while still respecting and following the chronology of the original film and it’s sequels. At the same time they also told the same Planet of the Apes story from a completely different angle. Instead of the planet being revealed as Earth at the end, we know that we are on Earth and are watching the origin story and following the apes as they take over the planet from mankind.
A perfect example of a remake is Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 (2001). It took a very good but flawed film and enhanced it with superb direction, editing, cinematography and one of the biggest and most talented casts ever assembled with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts all delivering solid performances. It is an example of the type of movie that could benefit from a remake. The 1960 Ocean’s 11 with Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson and the rest of his Rat Pack buddies was a good film, but not an Academy Award winning classic, like Ben Hur, nor was it a beloved film that modern movie going audiences grew up with and recall seeing during its initial release like Robocop, Point Break, or Ghostbusters which all underperformed at the box office. They did because nobody wanted a remake of those films. Most people that saw them still admire them. Ocean’s 11 was an entire generation prior to the remake. The audience was completely removed the first film, similar to the remakes of The Thing and The Fly. Most movie goers had no memory of those films from the 1950’s and motion pictures had changed so much since the time those films were made the remake felt fresh and new, not a rehash of the previous film.
That does not mean that all good films from the Baby Boom generation should be remade. Those three examples were well done because they brought innovative and exciting elements to the story and were competently directed by very talented filmmakers with exceptional crews working behind the scenes. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) starring Keanu Reeves failed because it was just a bad movie, plain and simple. Whereas the original from 1951 holds up and is an artifact from the Cold War. A metaphor that mankind should not use nuclear weapons because we will end up destroying ourselves as much as our Communist enemies. Had the remake offered more intelligent writing that dealt with social commentary about the 21st century and terrorism, special effects that were more memorable, and acting that was not wooden, the Keanu version could have been successful.
So without any further ado, here are Pan and Slams Top 5 Movie Remakes that we Need:
5. The Beastmaster (1982) directed by Don Coscarelli
In the late 80’s and early 90’s this was a cable television staple, especially on TBS. In fact, there was a joke that TBS stood for ‘The Beastmaster Station’ instead of Turner Broadcasting Station. Needless to say from the constant replay on TV, a generation grew up watching this interesting but flawed sword and sandals fantasy epic with commercial interruptions and still found it entertaining. It is very much a relic of the early 80’s. The acting is only so-so despite starring John Amos and Rip Torn really hams it up as the villain. Plus it has some great shots of a topless Tanya Roberts and still got away with a PG rating. Marc Singer is stereotypical 80’s bland as Dar, the hero who can communicate with all animals, but it fits perfectly with the film surrounding him. The biggest flaw of The Beastmaster are the special effects which felt low budget even for its era. If a remake of The Beastmaster were given the A+ studio treatment like the Lord of the Rings films, we are looking at an instant classic and a megahit that could serve as a franchise starter and tentpole for a major studio. Why haven’t they attempted to remake this yet? What’s wrong with Hollywood?
4. Spawn (1997) directed by Mark A.Z. Dippe
Another big head scratcher as to why Hollywood is not rebooting this comic book hero. The blueprint is there. They could have gotten it right the first time but the original Spawn came out in 1997, the same summer as Batman and Robin, needless to say it was a dark time for comic book movie adaptations. The most unfortunate aspect of the movie Spawn was the reliance on horrible early CGI effects. This movie has aged worse than old Flash Gordon serials, or the 1980 Flash Gordon movie for that matter which deserves an update as well. This film should deserve credit for being one of the first superhero films to have an African-American as the lead and it also boasts a solid albeit very 90’s alternative-hard rock soundtrack, but that is it. The Spawn movie fails in every other aspect. Most mind boggling is that during the same summer this movie came out, HBO and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane teamed up for a spectacularly dark and violent animated series for adults that was maturely written and faithful to the comics. Why they went soft on the movie with a PG-13 rating and using ridiculous looking special effects is beyond comprehension. All that being said, now is the perfect time to remake this property and give one of the darkest superheroes the movie he rightfully deserves. Deadpool and Logan proved that R-rated comic book films can be hits and all of the recent DC movies have shown that dark and brooding superheroes can turn a profit, Spawn should get the same budget as any of those movies. Even if they just follow what HBO did twenty years ago it will satisfy the fanbase and be vastly superior to the original film. The iron is red hot for this hero and one must question why they have not remade Spawn yet.
3. Highlander (1986) directed by Russell Mulcahy
There are few cultural phenomenons more perplexing over the last few decades than the faithful fanbase the Highlander movies and TV series has collected over the years. Looking back it is amazing that this story has such a rabid cult following. They have made four motion pictures, none of which have been box office hits that made their budget back, yet like the main character who is immortal, so is this franchise. Whether you love these movies or not, one cannot deny they are seriously flawed. This series will not die and has thus far been impervious to box office receipts, ratings and scathing critic reviews. It is easy to understand why, the fantasy story taps into a concept that sounds appealing. What if you could live forever and everyone else around you that you love has to die? Plus there are awesome sword fights, exciting set pieces and gorgeous location shots that hold their own with the Lord of the Rings movies. There have been rumors circulating around the internet for over a decade that the original writers and producers are planning a remake and at one point was set to star Ryan Reynolds as the Highlander Connor MacLeod and Dave Bautista as his immortal rival The Kurgan. The Highlander franchise has been dormant for quite some time but will no doubt return at some point. We can only hope that when it does it gets the proper financing with a big budget, decent special effects, a script that is faithful to the story of the originals and will satisfy both old fans and create new ones.
2. The NeverEnding Story (1984) directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Children that grew up in the 1980’s were undoubtably exposed to this fantasy adventure film based on a famous German book series. It was popular on VHS and ran on cable a myriad of times well into the 90’s and even today. But go back and watch it again, it really does not hold up as a well made film. The biggest problem is that the books were long, very long. Wolfgang Petersen tried to cram way too much in to a 102 minute movie. Characters appear and disappear, they are not developed properly, the special effects are hokey even for the 80’s and the script cut corners in so many noticeable places. This breaks the rule mentioned above that remakes should only happen when a generation has passed and movie goers have forgotten about them. The NeverEnding Story is still fresh in a lot of children and adults minds. However, like all of the other films on this list it has some huge flaws that cannot be missed or denied by even its most ardent defenders. I think fans of all ages would be happy if there was a remake with just enough references to the original but also was more faithful to the original source material, arguably the most beloved German fantasy books of all time. The NeverEnding Story with a strong studio backing and big budget is something that everyone involved could benefit from, especially the audience.
1. Masters of the Universe (1987) directed by Gary Goddard
This is one that they have been discussing for a while. Along with the other films on this list, Masters of the Universe falls into the fantasy adventure genre and like the films listed at numbers 2, 3 and 5, it was made in the 1980’s and the special effects, shortcomings of the script, and budget constraints seriously hinder this movie from being what it could have been. Based on a popular cartoon and toys of He-Man and his band of good guys battling the evil Skeletor and his vile pack of miscreants. The low budget is painfully obvious especially today. They had to shift the majority of the action to modern day planet Earth instead of the fantasy world of Eternia where the cartoon took place. Important characters could not be in the film due to lack of budget and technology limitations that would easily be remedied today by making them CGI characters. Plus, let’s face it, only Frank Langella gave a good performance as Skeletor. Dolph Lundgren was hugely popular at the time and this was his first lead role after achieving tons of exposure from Rocky IV two years earlier. A remake that has people behind the scenes that care about this world and these characters and a budget that will not hinder their vision could make a new Masters of the Universe the definitive version of these stories and one that introduces these iconic characters of the 1980’s to whole new generations of fans.