6 Movie Remakes that Missed the Point (Mania.com)

By:Mark Hill
Date: Saturday, April 11, 2009
Source: Cracked.com

Movie remakes are a win/lose proposition. On one hand, you're starting with a movie audiences have already grown to love. On the other, if you fuck it up, it becomes a horrible embarrassment for everyone involved.

But nothing is worse than when the remake is made by someone who apparently had no clue what the original was even about. That's how you get misguided--and even downright insulting--remakes like...

 

 

#6.Rollerball

 

What the Original Was About:

The 1975 film takes place during 2018, in a dystopian future where a handful of corporate states form a world government. The most popular form of entertainment is the titular sport, which boils down to a violent spin-off of roller derbies, with the addition of motorcycles. In this future, rollerball serves as a substitute for all other sports as well as warfare and, in the words of the film's antagonist, serves to "show the futility of individual effort." In our words, it demonstrates "how fucking awesome sports are if you add motorcycles to the mix."

The story revolves around Jonathan E., a star player who becomes a little too famous and powerful for the corporation's tastes. After attempts to convince Jonathan to retire fail, the owners begin changing the rules of rollerball in an effort to get Jonathan killed. As a result, the sport quickly degenerates into senseless and brutal violence. Brutal motorcycle violence.

Death sports aside, the original Rollerball focused more on social commentary. Jonathan has to fight to maintain his identity and his free will, and he also strove to understand the relationship between corporations and modern society. The finale of the film shows how rollerball fans have been stunned by the brutality of the violence, but they cheer on Jonathan's achievements as an individual.

What the Remake Did Instead:

The 2002 remake decided to ditch all that boring social/political stuff and replaced the message of "brutal violence is bad" with "brutal violence kicks ass!" Changing the setting from dystopian future to present day, rollerball is just another sport, one that's mostly popular in the former Soviet Union. Jonathan is less interested in maintaining his free will than he is in driving fast cars and trying to bang Rebecca Romijn.

The new version focuses pretty much exclusively on the sport itself, with the story revolving around Jonathan's promoter trying to make the game more violent in order to boost ratings. That's essentially what the movie does as well, with the film being marketed as an action movie and the attraction largely being the increasingly violent matches. You know, the ones that the original designed to make us feel uncomfortable and barbaric.

How Did They Do?

The original wasn't a classic, but it received generally good reviews and has established a cult following. The remake was universally panned and made only $26 million dollars from a budget of $70 million. Damn, how could they go wrong with a cast that included Pink and LL Cool J?

 

 

#5. I Am Legend

 

What the Original Was About:

It started as a 1954 novel (I Am Legend) and was first made into a film in 1964, called The Last Man On Earth. It featured Vincent Price playing Dr. Robert Morgan, man of science and monster hunter extraordinaire. Living in a world where everyone has been infected by a disease that turns them into vampires (and not the sparkly Twilight variety, either), Morgan kills as many of the mutated as he can, while researching the plague and looking for a cure. You'd think he'd try to focus on one goal or the other, but hey, we're not doctors.


Pictured: Intensive scientific research.

There's a heavy emphasis on how Morgan tries to deal with the psychological issues that come with the complete loneliness and despair of his situation. Morgan eventually encounters another survivor by the name of Ruth, but he soon learns that she's part of a group of infected people who suffer some of the effects of the disease but are able to hold the worst at bay with a vaccine. They're working to rebuild society, but they're terrified of Morgan since he appears to them as a mysterious killing machine (as he's taken down some of their kind during his career in vampire slaughtering).

Morgan escapes with Ruth's help, but he's eventually hunted down. In the novel he peacefully accepts his death, realizing that he's the last of his kind and the infected survivors represent the next step for humanity. The book's title, I Am Legend, referred to Morgan realizing that he, in his mass killings, had ironically become the mythical, nightmarish creature to this new breed.

The movie gets the same message across, but Morgan, half-crazy from years of isolation, goes out after a violent chase, eventually dying as angrily as possible. While it sounds like a huge change, the movie is otherwise pretty faithful, especially when compared to future attempts...

What the Remake Did Instead:

The first remake came out in 1971 under the name The Omega Man. Starring Charlton Heston, as Colonel Robert Neville, the monsters in this film are less scary than they are silly, with the vampires blaming the disease on the evils of science. So they're Luddite vampires, refusing to use anything other than the most primitive technologies. How do you think a bunch of bow and arrow wielding bad guys performed against the spokesperson for the NRA?

The movie mostly involves Neville shooting shit up, eventually coming across a group of people who are semi-resistant to the disease. He gives them a serum of his blood so they can become fully immune and restore humanity. He then dies heroically, knowing that he helped save the world from a plague of Amish vampires.

The 2007 re-remake, while finally getting the title right, otherwise plays out exactly the same as the Heston version. Will Smith kills a bunch of vampires in order to help some kids escape with his cure, once again saving the world from those no good monsters. Well, at least they used technology this time.


"Lemme see you nod your head, like this!"

How Did They Do?

The Last Man on Earth hasn't aged very well, but it was well received at the time and still has some charm. The Omega Man was widely criticized, and I Am Legend received mixed reviews, with most complaints focusing on the weak ending which, as it turned out, was a last-minute change. The original "true to the novel" ending can be found on the DVD extras. If only the author of the novel had audience focus groups available to him, he could have fixed that whole "message" thing and saved Hollywood the trouble.

 

#4. Halloween

 

What the Original Was About:

The 1978 John Carpenter film is about a guy who kills teenagers. On Halloween. That alone should explain why it's one of the most well received horror films of all time.

But if you want to get into all that boring analysis stuff, what makes this film is work is how Michael Myers, the big bad villain, is portrayed. The teenagers he's stalking don't know anything about him; he's an unknown, unstoppable killer who apparently has no reason for what he's doing. And that's exactly what Halloween is about: evil that's mysterious and unworldly. Well, that and candy. Halloween II is mostly about candy.


"Do I see Reese's Pieces down there? Fuck yes!"

Despite Myers being all about the stabbing, Halloween isn't a very violent film, relatively speaking. Few people are killed, and none of the violence is graphic. That's what's great about the film; it's suspenseful rather than pointlessly violent. We're sure anyone choosing to remake it would realize that, right?

What the Remake Did Instead:

The 2007 version was directed by Rob Zombie who, not just content to make bad music, has established himself as a director of bad movies.

This remake decided to focus significantly more on Michael as a child, giving the character a backstory. While not a bad idea in theory, in practice the character development amounts to little more than "Uh oh, he likes to kill people!" which makes Myers about a complex of a villain as Snidely Whiplash, while simultaneously eliminating the mystery of the original Myers. Instead of being a big unknown, he's just some kid who's kind of a jerk.


"You know, you might be more popular if you stopped doing stuff like this. Just sayin'."

Of course, the body count is upped too. In fact, Michael kills more people as a child in the opening scenes of this version than he does in the entire original movie. When people are getting knocked off so rapidly, it eliminates any suspense over who survives and who doesn't to the point where it's impossible to care about any of the characters. The remake featured plenty of gratuitous nudity as well. OK, so it had a little merit.

How Did They Do?

The original made $55 million ($176 million in today's money) from a budget of less than half of a million. Unfortunately the remake was financially successful as well and, sure enough, they're making a sequel. So on one hand, they've turned the series into the kind of standard slasher films we see every year. On the other hand, the original Halloween's success is the reason we see so many of them. So, really, John Carpenter has no one to blame but himself.

 

 

#3. The Stepford Wives

 

What the Original Was About:

This 1975 film is based on a novel from 1972, a horror story with heavy elements of satire. The main character is Joanna Eberhart, who moves to the small town of Stepford with her husband and children. Joanna is unimpressed by the other women of the town, who appear to be interested only in cooking and cleaning.

Joanna becomes friends with the only other woman who isn't acting odd, and they decide to investigate the strange behavior of everyone else. After learning that most of the other women were once supporters of the feminist movement, the pair become disturbed enough to want to leave town. That plan quickly falls apart when Joanna's children are kidnapped and her new friend begins acting strangely.

Joanna does the logical thing: She stabs her friend. This is how she learns that her friend is now a robot. Instead of getting the fuck out of there like a normal person, Joanna elects to sneak into the mansion used by Stepford's Men's Association. Her plan goes about as well as you'd expect one with absolutely no preparation to go; the final shot of the film shows Joanna placidly buying groceries with the other robot wives.

With the exception of the final scene, the film is set entirely during the daytime, with bright and sunny settings used to offset the quietly chilling story. The behavior of the robot wives is a satirical display of traditional gender roles, although it's unclear if the film's final message is "running a male dominated, chauvinistic dystopia is bad" or "we need to hurry up and make some robots!"


"Damnit robot, the kitchen is inside. Inside! There are still some bugs to work out."

What the Remake Did Instead:

The plot of the 2004 remake remains essentially the same up until the point where Joanna is captured and becomes a robot, at which point the story quickly falls apart. The Men's Association hosts a ball to celebrate the assimilation of all the women in town, during which Joanna lures the leader of the organization away while her husband, Walter, sneaks into the room where the transformations occur.

There he discovers that all the women in town are being controlled by microchips implanted in their brains, and after he destroys the computers controlling them, they immediately revert to their old personalities. In an ironic ending, the newly freed women force their husbands to do all the mundane tasks they had been performing. Ironic in the sense that this movie completely discarded the suspense and satire of the original and replaced it with half-assed comedy. Wait, did we say ironic? We meant retarded.


Take this, feminism!

The new ending brings up endless plot holes as well. Apparently having a microchip in your brain makes you immune to fire, causes you to give off electric sparks and grants you the ability to dispense money from your mouth (each of which happens in the film). Yet, despite their mighty power, Joanna can apparently resist them completely. Either that, or when she was captured for sneaking around, the men of Stepford decided to do... absolutely nothing to her.


"Could you just pretend to be a cyborg, please? It would save me a ton of time."

How Did They Do?

The original received generally positive reviews and has grown in popularity over the years. The remake bombed and has largely been forgotten, although there's a pretty good chance everyone involved with it was killed and turned into a robot.

 

 

#2. The Wicker Man

 

What the Original Was About:

This 1973 thriller sees a Scottish police officer, named Neil Howie, investigating an isolated island in search of a missing girl. Discovering that the island is populated entirely by pagans who worship the sun and practice fertility rituals, our hero is shocked, as he is a devout Christian. The pagan aspects are presented with painstaking realism, as the issue of conflict between the two religious beliefs forms one of the central themes of the film.


Another central theme? Wicker.

The investigation goes poorly, as the islanders are unwilling to cooperate. Leaving Howie to explore on his own, things quickly go downhill and he eventually ends up as a virgin sacrifice (due to his claiming to be a virgin by choice, but we think he was just embarrassed).

Howie is burned alive in the titular wicker man, while the islanders sing a merry pagan tune, hoping his death will restore the fertility of their orchards. The chilling final scene sends a powerful message about what people are capable of doing in the name of their beliefs. Also, there's a ton of gratuitous nudity, which Cracked writers fervently believe in.

What the Remake Did Instead:

The 2006 remake starring Nicholas Cage is infamous, and for good reason. The idea of religious conflict is downplayed, and replaced with... no conflict at all. The most interesting ideas in the original came from Howie's strong religious convictions clashing with the islanders, while Cage's character is given little motivation to go to the island and even less to stay.

The issue of infertile orchards is gone too, replaced with infertile bees, a pointless change leading to some of the film's strangest and most comical scenes. The competent acting is replaced with Cage running around aimlessly, shouting for no reason and punching the shit out of a bunch of women, sometimes while in a bear suit. Dramatic music plays all the while, further confusing and embarrassing anyone unfortunate enough to be watching the film.


Pictured: 90 percent of the film's content.

The remake's worst sin? Absolutely no gratuitous nudity. That's right, this movie is both terrible and impossible to masturbate to.

How Did They Do?

The original is now commonly regarded as one of the finest films the British Isles have ever produced. The remake was critically panned, lost $3 million and nearly ruined Cage's career. So, all in all, it's a tie.

 

 

#1. The Day the Earth Stood Still

 

What the Original Was About:

Debuting way back in 1951, the film is about an alien, named Klaatu, and his big clunky robot, Gort, who land their spaceship in the middle of Washington D.C. with the intention of delivering an important message to the world. Humanity gets off on the wrong foot by shooting him, and eventually Klaatu ends up on the run from the U.S. military while he tries to find a way to communicating with the planet.

Klaatu is portrayed as an affable and friendly alien, while the majority of humans we see in the film are paranoid and suspicious of his intentions. It is, of course, an allegory for the Cold War, where people's hostilities are overriding both their common sense and their common humanity. Klaatu is less than impressed by how he's being treated, but he still tries to see the best in Earth. Even when he demonstrates how powerful he is, he does it without killing anyone, and it's only after the poor guy eventually gets gunned down does his robot buddy get angry.

The climax of the film sees Klaatu finally getting a chance to deliver his message (after coming back to life), where he tells humanity that if they take their warlike and aggressive nature into space, killer robots will fuck them up. We paraphrased that a bit, but that's basically what he's saying.

What the Remake Did Instead:

The anti-nuclear weapon theme was replaced with an environmental warning, which makes sense since the Cold War is over (OR IS IT?!).

The problem with this version is in how Klaatu is portrayed, besides the fact that Keanu Reeves was chosen to play him. Instead of being a likable spaceman, he's just as hostile and suspicious of humanity as they are of him. Instead of continually trying to deliver his warning, he gives up after the first attempt and just decides to wipe humans off the Earth instead. Yeah, we know you got shot and all, but come on, that's a little bit of an overreaction.


"Can't hear you, off to destroy all humans."

So with Klaatu on the warpath, it's up to the generic female lead, her spunky kid and John Cleese to convince Klaatu that humanity is worth saving. Of course, that only happens after Gort does a ton of damage and kills a lot of people. Sure, there's an environmental message slapped in there somewhere, but it's still the optimistic and hopeful humans stopping the hostile and violent alien. It's like they tried to put all of the pieces of the original film in here, but they got all scrambled up somehow.


Though, in the remake's defense...

How Did They Do?

The remake has been financially successful, but was critically panned. The original is widely considered to be one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, and helped to prevent nuclear war (probably). Although to be fair, Keanu Reeves did accomplish that with Bill and Ted.

 

6 Move Remakes that Missed the Point is the latest of Mania's Weekly Cracked Spotlight, which appears at your online destination for genre entertainment every Saturday courtesy of our sister website Cracked.com.



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