Remakes that (believe it or not) are good?

There’s a common theme in movies I’ve seen recently where the original and remake, despite taking different approaches, are of comparable quality. This is a pretty uncommon thing, in my experience, as so many remakes and reboots fall well short of what they’re based on, or are so far off the mark that they may as well be entirely unrelated aside from the title.

Tonight I watched 3:10 to Yuma- the 1957 original, with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. It’s excellent, and an extremely tense drama that focuses so much on the two of them. But I’m also a fan of the 2007 remake, with Russel Crowe and Christian Bale in the respective main roles, and that tells a similar story with the focus on action rather than the back-and-forth drama (which is still present, if less prominent). If I had to pick one of the two as the better, I’d probably go with the original… but I also feel like on a different day and in a slightly different mood I’d lean towards the remake.

Last week I watched Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury and hadn’t realized that Fist of Legend starring Jet Li decades later was a loose remake. Once again, I feel like there’s a strong argument to be made that the more polished latter version is the better one, even though I prefer the former.

The Crazies flips things a little bit, as I prefer the remake to the original for the most part, but again, it’s a very close call, and watching them both as a double feature was a great deal of fun. There’s an ambiguity to the original that I love, and an equal lack of ambiguity in the remake that works super well.

I know that not everyone’s going to agree- that’s just movie discussions in general- but I’m curious to hear if anyone out there has a favorite remake that they think is on par with, or better than, the original it’s based on.


I suppose it’s also worth noting considering my profile picture that I’ve got a fair bit of love for the continuous re-imaginings of Godzilla, too, wherein each new era feels like it starts fresh with Big Green.

(Note: I haven’t gotten to the Millennium era yet, and am excited for how bonkers I’ve heard it to be; and the American works are not that good overall. I still like seeing each new iteration of the crisis and response.)


Consider: King Kong Lives.

1 Like

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is my favorite remake. The original is still a classic, but the updated version took things up a big notch. The other 2 remakes of the movie are not that great.


I thought the Dawn of the Dead remake was really good.


The Blob (1988)


To Be or Not to Be. Both the 1942 original (with Jack Benny, Clark Gable’s wife, and the Unsolved Mysteries Guy) and the 1983 remake (with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft) have their individual strengths.


Any time there are disposable biosuit guys with M16s I’m there.


As remakes go, I think it’s hard to choose against John Carpenter’s The Thing.


I mean, the 1983 Scarface was a remake of the 1932 one…


The 1932 version has less cocaine and not enough Pacino overacting.


Has anyone seen the remake/reboot (don’t know which) of Gamera that came out a few years back? I saw the trailer for it and it looked like a real improvement over the ones we saw on MST3K.


Yeah, as much as the Hawks/Nyby Thing is legitimately a very interesting movie, I reluctantly over the years come to give the edge to Carpenter’s Thing.

They’re very different, though: not really a remake situation IMHO.

Actually, I do give Body Snatchers from 1993 full honors. Again, not exactly a remake of the others, but…Meg Tilly, c’mon. Meg Tilly nekked, no less, in addition to her deliberately creepy performance. Double double c’mon! Its wins all the prizes!


Time for a super unpopular opinion, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The 2005 version was WAY closer to the book and also had a better moral, IMHO.


The thing that gets me about the Paul Muni movie is how Scorsese wholesale lifted the “letter X means someone’s going to die” aesthetic for The Departed.

While we’re on the subject of remakes, yeah, I wouldn’t put The Departed above its source material, Infernal Affairs.


This might be stretching a bit, but the 1986 version of Little Shop of Horrors is worth considering.

rick moranis GIF


Absolutely worth considering, and it’s gotta have that original ending.


Any movie with Steve Martin in motorcycle leathers gets my vote!


The 1939 Wizard of Oz film is actually at least the EIGHTH film adaptation of the Oz books. The only earlier one that’s retained any kind of staying power is a stunt-heavy silent slapstick film from 1925, mostly because it features an early appearance by Laurel and Hardy as the Tin Man and Lion.


Way worse haircut though…