Bad remakes are a dime a dozen. Less frequent, but more interesting to contemplate, are remakes that missed the point. Anybody can do a bad remake, but making one that utterly misunderstands or ignores the elements that made the original popular is far harder. It requires a very special kind of cluelessness.
Of course, no one ever sets out to make a clunker. And, to be fair, some of the movies on this list are good on their own terms. They simply don't seem to understand what the original films were intended to be about. They mimic the plot, yet fail to recreate the soul. From the redone RoboCop to Downhill to, yes, The Lion King, this list will put these most unusual films under a microscope to look at where they got off track.
Which of these remakes most totally missed the point? Your votes will determine the answer.
- 1118 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
Dudley Moore had what was arguably his definitive screen role in 1981's Arthur. He plays a lovable yet irresponsible millionaire who perpetually has a drink in his hand. He's faced with losing his family fortune unless he marries a socialite he doesn't love. Arthur is willing to do it, but then he falls in love with a waitress (Liza Minnelli). Suddenly he has to decide whether to follow his heart or keep his bank account happy. John Gielgud won an Oscar playing his tell-it-like-it-is butler.
Casting Russell Brand in the Arthur remake - and getting Helen Mirren to play the butler - was a masterstroke on the surface. No one else was better suited. It was on the screenplay and direction levels that the updated Arthur failed. Rather than being the observant, sharp-edged comedy the original was, the 2011 picture goes goofy and broad. As a result, it's a forgone conclusion which woman the character will choose, whereas in Moore's version you weren't really sure until he made his final decision.
In other words, the "love or money" conundrum at the center of the story is downplayed. It's unclear why anybody wanted to remake Arthur without realistically dealing with the idea at its core.
- 2248 VOTES
On paper, remaking The Lion King with photorealistic computer imagery must have sounded like a good idea. The approach probably seemed as though it would bring a whole new perspective to the classic story. Well, it did, alright - just not in a good way.
The problem with the movie is that making the animals look real takes away their ability to project emotions. That's a requirement in animation. Characters are often drawn with exaggerated facial expressions to emphasize their reactions to whatever situation they're in. Because the remake wanted them to appear authentic, they generally have blank faces. (Animals don't smile, laugh, or cry.) The CGI additionally robs the characters of visual distinction. Telling who's who among the lions, for example, can be difficult given that they all look essentially the same.
Failing to recognize these problems in advance, The Lion King merely retells the story in a different animation style, adding nothing new and even detracting from the themes. It looks cool, but it's soulless.
- 3198 VOTESPhoto: Columbia Pictures
Paul Verhoeven's 1987 film RoboCop was so violent that it originally received an X rating. The studio insisted it be cut down to an R. Even with those trims, the excessiveness of the violence effectively drove home the movie's theme. Omni Consumer Products claims its robotic law enforcement technology will make Detroit safer, when in reality it creates a situation even more unstable. The company's ED-209 model proves wildly unreliable.
The 2014 remake of RoboCop, directed by Jose Padilha, attempted to remain true to the corporate and military-industrial satire yet missed the mark by a mile. Going for a PG-13 rating automatically meant the violence was toned down. When the whole point of the story is to make fun of the militarization of law enforcement by money-grubbing companies, being bloodless is the exact wrong way to go. You can't satirize something if you don't indulge in it a little bit. The remade RoboCop seemed more interested in catering to teenage audiences than it did in remaining faithful to the source material's intent.
No wonder it failed to achieve the cultural impact of the original. Heck, it didn't even achieve the cultural impact of RoboCop 2.
- 4121 VOTESPhoto: MGM
Not many people would consider the 1975 movie Rollerball a classic, although it does have an appreciative cult audience. The movie depicts a future in which corporations control everything. America is in the grip of a violent sport that's kind of like roller derby with weapons. When the company controlling the game wants the star player (James Caan) out, he takes on the system to figure out why.
Basically, Rollerball has two themes. One is that audiences crave increasingly violent forms of entertainment, and the second is that it's not a good thing when corporate decisions outweigh the decisions of individual people. The 2002 remake, with Chris Klein in the Caan role, largely ignores this sort of social commentary. The movie is interested only in jamming in as many action scenes as possible, with little or no extra context.
Also, given that the '75 Rollerball was fairly prescient about the ever-growing popularity of violent entertainment, the '02 version is a day late and a dollar short.