Is Hollywood Out of Ideas? Film's Worst and Best Remakes and Reboots

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Well, it's official "” the movie no one wanted a sequel to is getting a sequel. Or a remake. Or a reboot. Or maybe it's a requel (yes, that's a word now.) Anyway, the movie is Ghostbusters. Remember Ghostbusters?


This very moment is when Dan Aykroyd realizes he has nowhere to go but down, Columbia Pictures

Well, get ready, because there's another Ghostbusters on the way courtesy of Paul Feig. He directed Bridesmaids and a bunch of other stuff, including the short-lived, classic Freaks and Geeks. He tweeted the announcement yesterday:


Hilarious women? As opposed to hilarious flamingos? Twitter

So it looks like the movie is going to be a reboot or maybe a requel. (That's where the continuity of the preceding film is maintained but the cast is largely replaced). In any event, this brings up the following question: does anybody want another Ghostbusters? The first one was a classic. The second was decent, but not great. In any case, it looked like it would be the last one since nobody involved seemed to want to make another, especially Bill Murray. But Dan Aykroyd has been peddling a new Ghostbusters script for years. And while the film is finally getting made, it's with a different script.

The all-women angle could be just what the series needs to refresh itself. Plus, with the success of female-centric comedies like The Heat and Bridesmaids (both directed by Feig), maybe this could be just what people want these days.

Personally, I'm not that interested in a reboot of Ghostbusters. It's not even that old, and it was basically a perfect little sci-fi comedy, so I don't see the need. But more than that, I simply haven't seen the need for all these Hollywood reboots/remakes/requels and what not. Whatever happened to a good old sequel? Hell, even a prequel?

That said, let's take a look at some recent reboots/remakes that Hollywood has cranked out of its lubricated-with-the-blood-of-the-masses movies machine (I'm only listing the domestic gross as most of these movies wouldn't count as remakes or reboots in other countries that are unfamiliar with the original version).

Friday the 13th
1980/2009


Still better than Easter Sunday, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema

So here we have a battle between one iconic horror classic and one attempt to cash-in on the enduring popularity of its main character, Jason. Of course, Jason wasn't really in the first movie so the reboot actually smooshes the first three movies together. But the truly shocking gore (at the time) of the original and the clever kill sequences are replaced by a Jason who acts more like a horny pro wrestler.

Gross/Budget
1980 version: $39,754,601/$500,000 
2009 version: $65,002,019/$19,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1980 version: 35%
2009 version: 34%

My Ranking: 
1980 version: 8/10
2009 version: 2/10

The 1980 version absolutely made a fortune relative to its budget, while the 2009 did pretty good, but not great. No sequel has been announced, thankfully.

Psycho
1960/1998


Showering is a bad idea. Stay dirty, Paramount Pictures.

Now this one boggles the mind. Why on Earth anyone would you want to remake what is easily one of the most iconic movies of all time is crazy. Especially with the totally miscast Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche. As if that weren't bad enough, it's a shot-for-shot remake (where the filmmakers attempt to exactly recreate the original movie without any deviation whatsoever). Ugh.

Gross/Budget: 
1960 version: $32,000,000/$806,947 
1998 version: $21,456, 130/$60,000,000

Metacritic Rating:
1960 version: n/a
1998 version: 47%

My Ranking: 
1960 version: 9/10 
1998 version 2/10

The remake failed horribly, as well it should. The lesson here is this: don't remake Hitchcock movies.

Total Recall
1990/2012


Twice the action. Thrice the boobs, Carolco/Columbia Pictures

Total Recall was one of those far-out action pictures that only Paul Verhoven can do justice to. It's got triple-breasted women, midgets with machine guns, and mutant taxi drivers on Mars. The remake eschews all of this (except the three-breasted chick who you can read an interview with here. It's pretty amusing). Anyway, a remake was just unnecessary period. The original was not that old and its effects still held up well. Colin Farrell and Jessica Biel both suck, and Kate Beckinsale's character wears out her welcome because her husband directed the movie and made her part far bigger than it was in the original.

Gross/Budget: 
1990 version: $119,394,840/$65,000,000 
2012 version: $58,877,969/$125,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1990 version: 57%
2012 version: 43%

My Ranking:
1980 version: 8/10
2012 version 3/10

In any event, the reboot tanked. Yet Hollywood didn't seem to notice as they're still cranking 'em out.

Conan the Barbarian
1982/2012


I could get that buff. I just don't want to, Lionsgate/Universal Pictures

Another Arnold flick. This is the one that made him a star. Despite what you may think, it's actually a well-made movie, if a little cheesy. Director John Milius knows how to make a spectacle. The remake, on the other hand, is a mix of fake-looking backdrops and CG monsters. And the zero charisma Jason Momoa takes over for Arnold. Although the scene where his dad literally rips him out of his mother's womb will make you shudder, that's about all that's worth watching and it happens five minutes into the movie.

Gross/Budget: 
1982 version: $39,565,475/$16,000,000
2012 version: $21,295,021/$90,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1982 version: 43%
2012 version: 36%

My Ranking: 
1982 version 7/10
2012 version 2/10

Another complete failure and waste of money. For the price of this film you could buy a laptop for every child in the Sudan. Probably.

Planet of the Apes
1968/2001


Based on a true story, 20th Century Fox

Now this one had some promise. Tim Burton was still considered a reliable director at the time and the original was definitely dated. And yet, he made a complete mess. And he didn't cast me in it to boot.

Gross/Budget: 
1968 version: $32,589,624/$5,800,000
2001 version $180,011,740/$100,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1968 version: n/a
2001 version: 50%

My Ranking: 
1968 version 8/10
2001 version 3/10

There was almost nothing good about Burton's version while the original was a thoughtful tale that dealt with themes of slavery, imprisonment, and utilitarianism. The Burton version was mostly about Mark Wahlberg looking surprised.

Spider-Man
2002/2012


I thought everybody hates spiders? Sony Pictures

This is one of the more egregious examples of an unnecessary reboot. With the largely well-recieved Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man trilogy wrapping up only five years earlier, did we really need another Spider-Man origin story so soon? Answer: no. Sony disagreed and fast-tracked the sequel while scheduling two more films. The sequel underperformed so Sony has canceled parts 3 and 4 and instead planned . . . another reboot! God help us.

Gross/Budget: 
2002 version: $403,706,375/$139,000,000 
2012 version: $ $262,030,663/$230,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
2002 version: 73%
2012 version: 66%

My Ranking: 
2002 version 3/10 
2012 version 3/10

So, are there any good reboots or remakes out there? Because, looking down the list, I'm having trouble finding one. Oh, wait a minute "” I think we have a winner . . .

The Blob
1958/1986


This movie put me off Jell-o for life, Fairview Productions/Tristar Pictures

The original The Blob was a fun, cheesy B-movie that featured a gelatinous, um, blob as its villain. It was harmless fun. The remake on the other hand features a balls-to-the-wall face-melting massacre of an entire town by a gigantic blob that is as fast as it is deadly. Its victims simply dissolve into the blob, making it grow in size with every death. Truly gory, but still lots of fun, the remake outdoes the original in every respect.

Gross/Budget: 
1958 version: $3,000,000/$700,000 
1986 version: $40,456,565/$15,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1958 version: n/a 
1986 version: n/a

My Ranking: 
1958 version 4/10
1986 version 9/10

The Blob is a pretty good example of how to do a remake right. Of course, the original wasn't exactly a classic, so there was lots of room for improvement. How about a remake that improves on an already excellent original film?

The Fly
1958/1998


Take your pick, they're both great, 20th Century Fox

The original version of The Fly is a well-regarded horror classic. Forget what you might think about it if you're only familiar with the somewhat cheesy (to us, now, anyway) giant fly head costume. It's actually a really creepy, disturbing movie with a truly shocking ending. So when David Cronenberg remade it nearly 30 years later, he had his work cut out for him. The result? A harrowing, grotesque journey as we watch a hapless scientist slowly transform into a fly courtesy of some stellar make-up effects. However, whereas the original The Fly was more of a standard monster movie, Cronenberg's version is a tragic romance with a sad, depressing ending.

Gross/Budget: 
1958 version: $4,000,000/$240,000
1988 version: $8,247,943/$19,000,000

Metacritic Ranking:
1958 version: n/a
1988 version: 79%

My Ranking: 
1958 version 9/10 
1988 version 9/10

So, what have we learned? Well, Hollywood is out of ideas, naturally. But that's nothing new. There are only eight basic stories anyway, and Hollywood has been retelling them for almost a hundred years. Novelists have been doing it for a lot longer.

But I think the key to reusing/rebooting/remaking a previous property is offering a new twist on it. The new Friday the 13th was just an inept remake of the first three films. The Amazing Spider-Man rearranged things to seem more original, but the changes were pointless as they seemed to be done only for the sake of change.

Total Recall played the same hand, except it kept giving awkward nods to the original, superior version. Conan was just a mess and I can't think of a single reason for it to exist.

The Blob and The Fly, on the other hand, took a successful concept and turned it on its head. Each explored the subject matter in a more realistic fashion and both had the power to show the unspeakable aftermath of those who fell victim to the villain. (Of course, in The Fly the villain is also the hero, but we'll talk about that another day).

In the end, reboots aren't a bad thing in theory. Pretty much every love story is just Romeo and Juliet with different settings and possibly less suicide. So you can't really blame Hollywood for being out of fresh stories, because there simply aren't any fresh stories left. (Except for my screenplay about robot carrier pigeons. Call me.)

This is nothing new. Classic stories like Frankenstein and Dracula and Howard the Duck get told and retold time and time again. All we can do is hope for the best. Based on my unofficial calculations, about 1 in 10 reboots turn out to be any good. Not the greatest odds. But unless you want to start your own movie studio, you'll just have to roll the dice like the rest of us. Or check Metacritic.

So grab your popcorn, your soda, and your 3D cat and kick back with one of the (good) movies on this list. And if you don't like it, I wouldn't worry "” I'm sure a reboot is in the works.


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