Unlike many, Yosra Osman‘s not going to judge Ghostbusters until she’s seen it. Because, contrary to common opinion, some remakes rock. And others? Well…
I’m looking forward to the new Ghostbusters. It has Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, and looks like a fun popcorn movie. Which means I will see it and hopefully enjoy it.
I’ve ignored most of the outrage, which seems to come from fans of the original, throwing their toys out of the pram because director Paul Feig has dared to remake the beloved original, and with four women as its leads too. Oh the audacity. The poor film has been encompassed in drama for the last two years, despite the fact that hardly anyone’s seen it yet.
Unfortunately this comes as part of the territory when you enter the brave world of the remake. The remake is an easy target; filmmakers take the risk of making something that will always be compared to the original. If it’s done well, then all praise to you, but if it’s done badly, may heaven save you from the wrath of the critics. It’s a recipe for disaster – like that time I tried to make my mum’s lentil soup one year, only to be shot down by the family because it was pants in comparison. It was pants, I accept that now.
Not all remakes are pants, so let’s start this off on a positive note and look at some very good remakes, some of which may even be better than the originals:
The Departed (2006)
Known as the film that won Martin Scorsese his only Oscar, despite not really being anywhere close to his best film, this remake of Andrew Lau’s Infernal Affairs holds its own. They’re both great films, but The Departed deserves credit for a more ambitious adaptation. It’s longer, meatier and has fantastic performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg et al. Strong work, boys.
True Grit (2010)
I hate westerns, but the Coen Brothers’ remake of John Wayne’s 1969 original made me reconsider my attitude. Well, until I watched another western.
True Grit stars Jeff Bridges and a brilliant Hailee Steinfeld, who provides the key changes to the original by driving the narrative. It may be a remake, but the Coen brothers made it very much their own. It’s also one of their best reviewed films to date.
21 Jump Street (2012)
OK, this is actually adapted from a TV series, but it has to be included because it’s just so funny. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are a riotous double act, and it even has Johnny Depp, who starred in the original, make an appearance.
Wuthering Heights (2012)
This is a controversial inclusion. I know many people that didn’t like this Wuthering Heights for being too artsy, too far removed from the classic themes of the original novel.
Personally, I loved it. It’s a fresh, gritty take on the tale and so much better than the cheese-fest of the 1939 original film. Of course it doesn’t beat the book, but as a film, it’s a unique adaptation that breaks away from tradition. Isn’t that what a good remake should do?
Unfortunately, for every good remake, there are several pretty dreadful ones. Here are some that should have raised alarm bells from the minute they were developed:
Any backlash Ghostbusters has received is but a drop to the raging tsunami of loathing generally felt towards Gus Van Sant’s remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. The ‘virtual shot-to-shot remake’ only slightly modified the script, mimicked the same score and even imitated some of Hitchcock’s camera moves. It was an odd choice from the Good Will Hunting director.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
For a supposed fantasy epic, Clash of the Titans was no fun whatsoever. I tried to like it, but it was just so hard when the title is more fun than the actual film. The script was shoddy, the actors didn’t look like they wanted to be there, and the special effects couldn’t divert attention away from the awkward plot.
Even Helen Mirren couldn’t save this remake of the 1981 comedy. Enough said.
The Women (2008)
George Cukor’s 1939 comedy-drama The Women was ahead of its time: an all-female showcase with some excellent one-liners and hilariously bitchy performances from Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Joan Fontaine among others.
The 2008 remake, directed by Diane English, shares a great cast including Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes and Annette Bening, but does not live up to its predecessor in any way. At all. It completely misses the snappy dialogue and catty humour of the original, and is, all-in-all, a bit of a drag.
Ghostbusters is in cinemas now. You can read Yosra’s review on Friday.
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Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions