Given Hollywood's current state of panicky mass remake mode that they've been in for the past, oh, maybe, twenty years, I decided to scour the books for the originals and remakes that go head to head (and also hope to spark heated arguments). I realize that there seems to be a usual trend of a remake butchering the amazingly done original, but every once in a while you find a gem of a film that both honors the content of the original movie while bringing in its own take. I'm going to list the contenders here for now, and say what is great about both, and then say which one is, in my opinion, the best. This is going to be super boring without participation, however, so I'm really asking people to get involved. There will be blood.
Rear Window (1954) or Disturbia (2007)?
Even though there was never an official "this is a remake" statement, the fact that Spielberg was slapped with a lawsuit from the Hitchcock estate is good enough cause to list Disturbia as a remake of this other thriller. Both have pretty riveting plots with amazingly well thought out character restrictions, although I find Disturbia's main character's house arrest a tad more interesting than the broken leg in Rear Window. Then again, there's the voyeuristic quality in Hitchcock's thriller that Spielberg's lacks, as Disturbia finds a way to maneuver its hero into the heart of the action via cameras and an underground passageway, thus taking away the quality of vulnerability brought about by only being able to observe what's going on from across the way. However, the dependence on tech rather than binoculars brings about a whole other quality of heart pounding fear, as you're much more invested in whether the characters will get caught since bugging someone's home is illegal while looking at it with binoculars is just creepy. At the same time, however, the fact that the salesman is able to hide what he's doing so easily in Rear Window makes our hero's obsession more compelling. What do you think?
Friday the 13th (1980) or Friday the 13th (2009)?
Both of these are horror films. Both have the same name. However, the plots are pretty different. There were a lot of people that criticized the 2007 version for essentially summing up the plot of the 1980 version in two minutes and then taking it in a whole other direction. While it’s valid that a remake should be pretty faithful to the tone of the original, I think that with a horror film, you can take some liberties. I mean, the original exists on its own, so to not make changes to it would be silly. If you don’t want changes, just watch the original film.
Now that I’ve said that little bit, on to the contenders. I like the first film because the large portion of the story or plot is focused on Jason and not the camp counselors, because, hey, they’re all gonna die anyway, so who gives a shit about their baggage? On the other hand, the newer version had its ups in making you invested in the college students because you actually wanted them to live. Yes, it was fun to watch Kevin Bacon get chainsawed, but it’s nice to sometimes NOT want the characters to die, too. Just a thought. At the same time, however, I have to say in all honesty that the special effects in the new one SUCKED. Sometimes, to make a horror movie, all you really need is a bucket of fake blood and a mask. The audience can put together the rest.
The Parent Trap (1961) or The Parent Trap (1998)?
Don’t you ever look back on the 1998 version and think, Wow, Lindsay Lohan was so cute. What the fuck happened?
Anyway, this is one remake where I honestly love both movies, and it comes down to this: I love the 1968 version for the girls, and I love the 1998 version for the adults. The camp scenes in the original are so hilariously reminiscent of the summer camp nightmares every kid experiences, from the bugle horn to the classic pranks and cabin rivalries. In the remake, I found the camp scenes a bit too sappy, but the sappy scenes that went with the romance of the two adults worked really well. It was nice to see what it was exactly that our two young heroines were fighting for. I don’t really remember there being quite as much chemistry between the parents in the original, which could have been casting, or could have been the protocol of a 1960s Disney movie. One thing I did like was the casting of Hayley Mills in the original, who was actually about fourteen, making her a way better actor than eleven year old Lindsay.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)?
To me, this is a hard one. I love Gene Wilder. He was a genius in this role, and Johnny Depp’s quirky eccentric-ness doesn’t quite compare. However, I didn’t really like the content of the original, since it doesn’t exactly follow the intentions or tone of the book. The remake, though it delves into an entirely unnecessarily backstory about Wonka’s daddy issues, keeps the exact plot and tone of the book, even keeping with the Great Glass Elevator. I like the original for the songs and Wonka, but I like the new one for the story and the other characters, such as Charlie and his family, who are (gasp!), actually English.
I'm sometimes not good at concealing my opinions, but I'll do a follow-up post with which versions I (honestly) think are better.
The Movie Mistress