We live in the age of the movie franchise. As Hollywood studios become more and more adverse to taking risks on new, untried stories, they double down on the production of remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels. These new/old movies often fuel nostalgic discussions among the viewers about the good old days and cinematic masterpieces from those times.
However, not all remakes are created equal. Only some of them match the movies that inspire them and other times even surpass them.
We present you with the 12 Best Remakes of All Time.
12. Dredd (2012)
Based on a character created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra for the cult British comic book 2000 AD, Dredd presents a dystopian future in which most of the Earth is scorched wasteland, with the remainder of humanity living within a large overpopulated city that takes up most of the United States’ east coast. Crime is rampant and order is maintained by no-nonsense Judges such as Dredd (Karl Urban). Made by British director Pete Travis and featuring Lena Headey as villainous drug lord Ma-Ma, Dredd was a pulse-pounding action movie well-received by critics and audiences alike.
Released in June of 1995, the first Judge Dredd wasn’t as lucky. With a $70 million budget and Sylvester Stallone as the titular character, the movie seemed poised for success. But despite all of that, as well as the solid cast that included Diane Lane, Armand Assante, Jürgen Prochnow and Max von Sydow, Judge Dredd failed dismally at the US box office. It got panned not just by the critics, but by Judge Dredd’s creator John Wagner as well.
11. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
3:10 to Yuma is one of those modern westerns that prove there’s still life left in the genre. Directed by James Mangold, whose filmography includes everything from dramas (Girl, Interrupted) to superhero epics (The Wolverine), the movie features Russell Crowe as an outlaw Ben Wade and Christian Bale as a rancher Dan Evans trying to bring Wade to justice. Released in August of 2007, 3:10 to Yuma won critical acclaim and is considered to be one of the finer westerns of the new century.
Mangold’s film is a great example how a classic movie can lead to an equally great remake. Based upon a short story by Elmore Leonard, the original 3:10 to Yuma was made in 1957 with veteran actor Glenn Ford as Ben Wade and Van Heflin as Dan Evans. Directed by Delmer Daves, it was quite popular at the time of its release and in 2012 was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Dracula remains popular due to its lavish production and unabashed melodrama. Inspired by Bram Stoker’s classical horror novel, it features the performances of Gary Oldman as Dracula, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing as well as Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves as Victorian newlyweds who find themselves in a fight against an immortal bloodsucker.
To say that Coppola’s movie is a remake is almost laughably obvious: a cursory internet search shows at least 200 movies with a word “Dracula” in their title, not to mention famous plagiarisms, like F.W. Murnau’s masterful 1922 horror Nosferatu. Two versions of Dracula stand above all others. The first one is Todd Browning’s 1931 adaptation with Bela Lugosi, whose performance as the famous vampire remains iconic to this day. The second one is 1958 Hammer Horror version starring Christopher Lee. Lee was so charismatic as Dracula that he reprised his role in several low-budget Dracula sequels and, over time, built himself a career out of playing bad guys.
9. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Directed by an award-winning film maker Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven is an old-fashioned heist film about a group of professional thieves planning to rob the three biggest Las Vegas casinos in a single night. Featuring an ensemble cast led by George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, Ocean’s Eleven was one of Soderbergh’s most commercially successful movies, leading to sequels Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007).
The original Ocean’s 11 came out in 1960 with the twist that its protagonists were WW2 veterans planning their Las Vegas heist as if it were a military operation. The movie features Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr – members of the notorious and celebrated Rat Pack who, for the sheer value of their cool, easily match the stars of Soderbergh’s remake. Ocean’s 11 also features appearances by Angie Dickinson and Shirley MacLaine as well as a superior, if bitter-sweet ending, to the remake.
8. The Departed (2006)
Directed by Martin Scorsese in 2006, The Departed is a crime drama about a mole (Matt Damon) planted inside the state police by the Irish mob boss Francis Costello (Jack Nicholson). Meanwhile, the police plant Detective Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) inside the mob. In a dangerous cat-and-mouse game, each side tries to discover a traitor within their ranks before it’s too late. The Departed was a huge commercial success and won four Academy Awards, including a long-deserved Best Director Award for Scorsese.
Although The Departed won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, the movie was actually a remake of a Hong Kong crime drama Infernal Affairs. Directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak and released in 2002, it told the story about a conflict between Hong Kong triads and the local police. Critically acclaimed, Infernal Affairs was also hugely popular in Hong Kong, eventually leading to two sequels.
7. 12 Monkeys (1995)
After legendary Monthy Pythons parted their ways, their sole American member Terry Gilliam went on to become a successful filmmaker with titles such as Brazil (1985) and Fisher King (1991). In his mind-bending science fiction film 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis plays a time-traveler from the future sent to prevent a pandemic that killed off most of humanity. Released in 1995, 12 Monkeys was one of Gilliam’s most successful films, earning two Academy Awards nominations, great reviews and over $160 million at the box office.
However, the inspiration behind 12 Monkeys isn’t nearly as well known. In 1962, Chris Marker, French writer, photographer and multimedia artist, directed a short film titled La Jetée. Made almost entirely out of still photos, it told a melancholy story about a prisoner from post-apocalyptic future sent through time by his jailers and fixated on finding a woman from his childhood. Upon its release, La Jetée was well-regarded by critics but remained relatively unknown to the wider audience.
6. The Fly (1986)
Almost 30 years after its release, David Cronenberg’s The Fly remains one of the most disturbing horror films ever made. It is a story of an eccentric genius Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) whose experiments with a teleportation device end horribly after he accidentally fuses his genes with those of a common housefly. Despite Cronenberg’s non-mainstream pedigree, The Fly turned into one of his most successful movies. Its far less-impressive sequel – Fly II – was released in 1989.
Despite its seemingly original premise, The Fly was a remake of a much older film. Directed by Kurt Neumann in 1958 and based on a short story by George Langelaan, the original The Fly was a low-budget B movie featuring horror icon Vincent Price in a supporting role. This version of The Fly was relatively successful as well, leading to the sequels Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly.
5. True Grit (2010)
In 2010, award-winning film makers Joel and Ethan Coen adapted popular western novel, True Grit by Charles Portis, for the big screen. In it, we follow 14-year old girl Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld), who hires grizzled US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to avenge the death of her father by capturing and killing his murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Nominated for ten Academy Awards, True Grit was commercial and critical success, with many critics claiming it was superior to the movie it remade.
An earlier version of True Grit was made in 1969. Directed by Henry Hathaway, it featured Kim Darby as Mattie Ross, Jeff Corey as Tom Chaney as well as Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper in supporting roles. But the movie remains most well-known for starring Hollywood legend John Wayne, whose performance as Rooster Cogburn earned him an Academy Award for the best actor.
4. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
In The Magnificent Seven, gunslinger Chris Adams (Yul Brynner) is hired to defend Mexican village against bandits led by evil Calvera (Eli Wallach). He enlists help of other gunslingers played by, among others, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Robert Vaughn. Directed by John Sturges and released in 1960, Magnificent Seven at first failed at the US box office, but over time was recognized as a classic of the western genre.
The Magnificent Seven was remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai. In it, seven masterless samurai in feudal Japan help villagers defend themselves from raiders. If the imitation is the highest form of praise, Seven Samurai truly deserves being called one of the finest movies ever made: it inspired a host of imitators, from 1978 Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars to Pixar’s 1998 computer-animated film A Bug’s Life. And this wasn’t the only work by Kurosawa remade for Western audiences.
3. The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s The Thing is a science fiction horror set in polar wasteland where American explorers stumble upon monstrous alien creature capable of assimilating and mimicking other life forms. As paranoia grips the crew, it’s up to the unlikely hero MacReady (Kurt Russell) to stop the organism from reaching civilization. At the time of its 1982 release, The Thing was relatively unsuccessful, probably because it was released around the same time as Blade Runner and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Since then, though, its reputation only grew, even leading to a prequel in 2011.
Carpenter’s classic was a remake of a 1951 sci-fi horror film The Thing From Another World based on a short story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.. Ostensibly directed by Christian Nyby, it is widely speculated today that the movie was actually made by legendary director Howard Hawks, whose production company financed the film. Whatever the case may be, The Thing From Another World remains among the best of the 1950s science fiction films.
2. Scarface (1983)
Written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian de Palma, Scarface was a 1983 crime drama chronicling the rise of Cuban immigrant Tony Montana (Al Pacino), who arrives in Miami with nothing and, over time, becomes a drug lord. The movie featured performances by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, F. Murray Abraham and then-unknown Michelle Pfeiffer. Initially, Scarface received bad reviews due to its brutality and violence, but the movie was a commercial success and over time became known as one of the best mob films ever made.
The inspiration for de Palma’s film came from the 1932 gangster movie of the same title. Loosely inspired by the rise and fall of Al Capone, original Scarface follows a rise of an Italian immigrant Antonio “Tony” Camonte (Paul Muni) through the ranks of Chicago mafia. The movie was directed and produced by Howard Hawks and is widely considered to be a classic.
1. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Clint Eastwood’s breakout role came in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars. Eastwood played The Man With No Name – mysterious gunslinger who skillfully manipulates rival gangs of a small town into killing each other. Released in 1964, this spaghetti western became most successful Italian movie of its time. Eastwood and Leone made two other westerns together – For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
A Fistful of Dollars was yet another remake of Akira Kurosawa’s work – his 1961 film Yojimbo starring Toshiro Mifune. It was the exact same story, except with samurai instead of gunslingers. In fact, it was so similar that Kurosawa sued Leone. To make this story more complicated, Kurosawa himself was inspired by the 1942 crime thriller The Glass Key that was, in turn, an adaptation of Dashiel Hammet’s 1931 noir novel of the same title. Other film experts cite Hammet’s western novel Red Harvest as Kurosawa’s inspiration. At least two other movies were loosely inspired by Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars: Coen Brothers’ 1990 film noir Miller’s Crossing and Walter Hill’s 1996 movie Last Man Standing.
What are your thought regarding remakes? What are your candidates for the best and worst remakes? Share them with us in the comments below!