Remakes, like this weekend's "Total Recall," are often considered the lowest of the low for Hollywood. Just take an old movie or franchise with the slightest bit of name recognition and rehash it for a new generation with lackluster results ("Psycho," anyone?).
Sometimes, however, a remake manages to equal or even surpass its predecessor. Here are five great examples that give unoriginality a good name.
It's rare for remakes to be good, much less for them to win Best Picture. However, in the hands of master director Martin Scorsese (who previously found remake success with "Cape Fear"), it should come as no surprise, especially when the source material, a 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller "Infernal Affairs," is right down his alley.
As expected from a Scorsese film, the cast is at their gritty, profane best, but it's the director's craftsmanship with the genre that makes "The Departed" a delight. He knows how to create terrific, character-driven tension, clearly demonstrated in a sequence involving two moles and a ringing cell phone. I'm not sure if it quite deserved Best Picture in 2007 (it seemed more like a make-good for Scorsese's previous overlooked classics), but it certainly deserves a high spot on this list.
"The Manchurian Candidate"
The original "Manchurian Candidate," starring Frank Sinatra, is almost as much a product of its time as it is a product of great filmmaking. Released in 1962, its paranoia-drenched story of a brainwashed politician echoed the fears of a nation in the grips of the Cuban Missile Crisis and, a year later, the Kennedy Assassination. The 2004 remake, directed by "The Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme, could never hope to be as timely, but it's close, capitalizing on post-9/11 fear and paranoia.
Demme does a terrific job of making the audience uncomfortable and feeling the characters' paranoia. The updated screenplay is surprisingly an improvement as well, especially in its …Read more...