What Makes A Good Remake?

Written by Gillian Finklea

Like many movie purists, I used to despise the dreaded remake. As a believer in originality, I held out hope that we could do more than simply repeat the past. More than anything, it just seems like a waste to pay money to watch the exact same things that have already entertained me years before.

But now, I have learned to accept, and even enjoy movie remakes. Occasionally you get a delightful spin on a property you were never truly familiar with – such as ’21 Jump Street’ – or a modern twist on an old story like ‘You’ve Got Mail’. I’ve learned that remakes can be a welcome event or an unmitigated disaster, and now I’m able to look for signs as to how successful a remake is going to be.

21 JUMP STREET

Let’s use ’21 Jump Street’ as an example. The trailer for this movie was funny, light, and utilised two well-known actors. Compared to the trailer for the TV show, which takes itself very serious despite the outrageous plot, it seems like the two properties are barley related. The revitalised franchise doesn’t rely on similar plot lines or character relationships as foundations for the movie, instead it takes the general idea of undercover cops in high school and spins it out into a whole new world. We have one great cameo from the original television show, and then we don’t really think of it ever again. It is a remake that created its own universe and it’s certainly one worth exploring.

Psycho

Now let’s look at the opposite end of the remake spectrum — Gus Van Sant’s almost shot-for-shot remake of the classic Hitchcock masterpiece ‘Psycho’. For the first 20 seconds, the trailer makes it seem like you are going to get a movie from Norman Bates’ perspective which, while that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, would at least be an interesting take. But then the trailer starts showing very familiar and famous scenes – Marion in the shower and Arbogast running on the stairs. But what else are we to expect? This is a very specific movie with a very specific twist. We get excited to see those famous shots in the trailer because we briefly think that maybe this would be a chance to see more of the the psychological turmoil and expand the horror universe. However, when the movie came out it was literally the exact same as the film which came 40 years prior. The best parts were shown in the trailer and those parts were obviously better in the original.

junglebook

In order for a remake to work, it needs to be updated with its own sense of self and if possible, be better than the original. The trailer for the new ‘The Jungle Book’ movie appears to have its own ideas and themes, at least in the fact that it’s not animated and seems to take itself more serious than the Disney classic. It doesn’t completely rely on familiar songs and has an interesting enough cast that I think it may be a worthwhile remake.

ghostbusters2016

The new ‘Ghostbusters’ trailer however, has left me a little suspicious. Now, I have been a champion of the ‘Ghostbuster’ remake because I don’t think the original is some kind of Holy Grail never to be altered, and I trust Paul Feig with most things relating to comedy. However, that trailer was way too close to 1998 ‘Psycho’ territory. In the trailer there’s a ghost in the library, a funky car and even Slimer; all of which we’ve seen before. And while the actresses seem to have developed fun and interesting characters, the overall feeling is too similar to the original movie and that’s a problem. Remakes that don’t forge their own path are doomed to make viewers wonder why there needs to be a remake at all.

So when you see a trailer for a remake and get an instant rush of nostalgia, take a pause. If the trailer just conjures up reminders of the previous movie or lifts from scenes beat-by-beat, you are probably destined for a disappointing trip down memory lane.

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Watch This Space: August 10 – 16

Welcome to your weekly go-to-guide – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Guy Ritchie makes his directing return this week with ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E’, and it certainly looks like it will be a successful return. Action-comedy is a genre that’s difficult to get right, but with Henry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant involved, it looks like this latest effort could be a hit. Expect laughs and thrills in equal measure. 

Audiences in America have been able to enjoy ‘Trainwreck’ for a while now, and we brought UK readers an exclusive review a few weeks back. Now the time has come for audiences here to see Amy Schumer’s big break on the silver screen, in what could be the comedy film of the summer.

Finally, we issue a public warning NOT to waste your time and money on another Adam Sandler led pile of crap. There can be no doubt that ‘Pixels’ is just another in a long line of flops from the moronic actor in his hunt for the next inflated pay cheque.

ON TELEVISION

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: Tune in to ITV2 to see the cult comedy ‘21 Jump Street’. The sequel may only have been slightly better than average, but the original will have you laughing out loud. 

Thursday 21:00 GMT: See how the ‘Alien’ franchise came to pass with modern prequel ‘Prometheus’ on Film4. You don’t need to have seen any of the original ‘Alien’ films in order to enjoy this, so we recommend this as your weekly dose of mind-boggling Sci-Fi, directed by Ridley Scott. If you like this film, you’ll be pleased to know that a second film has been announced.  

Friday 21:00 GMT: Our second recommended comedy of the week comes in the form of ‘Bridesmaids’ on Film4. We said that ’21 Jump Street’ is funny, but this is on a whole different level. One of our favourite comedies here at JumpCut UK, ‘Bridesmaids’ is utterly brilliant and well worth staying in on a Friday night for. 

Saturday 18:15 GMT: Our family film for the weekend is slightly more action-driven than normal, but it’s still a great film to sit down and enjoy together. ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’ is the third film in the iconic Indiana Jones series (don’t worry, you don’t have to have seen the others). Indiana Jones is as good as film characters get, and that is official after he came top in Empire magazine’s list. Sit back and enjoy on BBC 1

Sunday 21:00 GMT: The 9pm Sunday slot has some fantastic films vying for our attention this week. ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Casino Royale’ are on BBC3 and ITV2 respectively, but we’re going to recommend that you watch the Oscar-winning, war drama ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ on Channel4. The film follows the search for Osama Bin Laden, and is as dark as you would expect. This is the film that catapulted Jessica Chastain to Hollywood stardom and it’s easy to see why.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Adventureland: It was a mixed week for Fox Studios last week, after the disastrous reaction to the ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot, but luckily the release of a ‘Deadpool’ trailer managed to salvage some street-cred. Ryan Reynolds may be best known for his infamous ‘Green Lantern’ role, but let’s not hold that against him, because it looks like he’s going to smash it this time around. He’s also pretty great in a supporting role in the underrated, comedy-drama ‘Adventureland’.

American Hustle: Jennifer Lawrence turns 24 on Saturday, and we can’t believe the catalogue of great acting roles she has already put together in such a short space of time. Amongst J-Law’s array of fantastic performances, the one which most stands out has to be her portrayal of the unpredictable, volatile Rosalyn Rosenfeld in ‘American Hustle’. With an all-star cast, top director and a multitude of Academy Award nominations, this film gives a perfect balance of crime and comedy.

Starred Up: You may have missed it, but last week also saw the release of the global trailer for upcoming action film ‘Hitman Agent 47’. Rupert Friend takes the lead role in this video game adaptation, and whilst we aren’t exactly sold on this one, we really enjoyed Friend’s role in prison drama ‘Starred Up’. Gritty as hell, with an equal serving of tense action scenes and poignant, emotional moments, this Brit flick is one of our favourite films from 2014. With rising star Jack O’Connell taking centre stage, and a strong supporting cast, it’s hard to pick fault with this choice.

Gone Girl: We literally cannot avoid talk of Batfleck lately – not that we would want to – and last week was no different. Rumour has it, a select few from the upper echelons of the Warner Bros. society were treated to a work-in-progress screening of ‘Batman v Superman’. Ben Affleck’s performance has been heralded as “the definitive Batman” by these big-wigs, but for now we recommend taking a look at him in action in last year’s dark and twisted ‘Gone Girl’; a film not to be missed, most notably for the stunning performance of Rosamund Pike.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal

Jump Street – MIB Crossover Will Happen

It has been speculated for months, but Sony have today confirmed that their ’21 Jump Street’ series will intertwine with the world of ‘Men In Black’. After the Sony e-mail hacking, it was revealed that plans were in place to produce a crossover of the two popular franchises, and now the wheels are officially in motion to get it to the big screen. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are set to reprise their roles for the project.

Also on the way, is a female-led ‘Jump Street’ spin off, with Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs hired to write the script. Dakota Johnson, who appeared in ’21 Jump Street’ before jetting off to ‘Fifty Shades’ fame, could be part of the female driven project but nothing has been confirmed.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Watch This Space: April 27 – May 3

 Welcome to our newest feature – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

Nothing new to report on the cinema releases this week, for the UK anyway. If you haven’t already, get yourself to a screening of ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ and treat yourself to IMAX and 3D. If you’re over in the USA, you’ll have to wait until the end of the week to finally see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but it’s worth it.

Last week, the UK became the last country to catch the release of ‘Stonehearst Asylum’, which ironically seems to be a British like-for-like version of  Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’. Ben Kingsley heads a stellar cast in this eerie thriller, but don’t expect anything special from this version of a familiar story.

‘Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck’ was released a fortnight ago, without the media hype that one might have expected. But nonetheless, this documentary film presents an intriguing balance of art and fact, a must-see film for those remotely interested in the legacy of Cobain, and indeed Nirvana.

ON TELEVISION

Tuesday 18:15 GMT: Continuing the Han Solo buzz from last week, you can catch Harrison Ford in ‘Clear And Present Danger’ on Film4, another classic from his catalogue of fantastic films.

Wednesday 21:00 GMT: Whilst it may not particularly be our cup of tea, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ has its fair share of admirers. With the second film released earlier this year, Film4 give you the chance to see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday 21:00 GMT: Now THIS is more like it! On 5*, go back to school with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill for ‘21 Jump Street’. We promise you will laugh out loud and be thoroughly entertained all the way through.

Friday 22:40pm GMT: From the director of the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic, comes ‘Senna’. Catch the award-winning story of legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna on ITV.

Saturday 17:10 GMT: Keep the kids (and yourself) entertained this Saturday night, with ‘Wall-E’ on BBC1. This Pixar film won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature back in 2009, and deservedly so; a real treat for the whole family.

Sunday 19:10 GMT: Strictly for the females with this pick, Channel 5 bring us ‘Legally Blonde’ on Sunday evening, an entertaining film packed with girl power and feel-good vibes to help you prepare for the doldrums of Monday morning.

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Dallas Buyers Club: August 2016 will see Jared Leto adopt the iconic role of The Joker for ‘Suicide Squad’. Arguably Leto’s best character to date is that of Transgender AIDS patient Rayon in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. Based on a true story, the tale is moving, humorous and harrowing.

The Help: Picking back up with our giveaway competition, this week will see the newly released ‘Birdman’ up for grabs. Best Supporting Actress nominee Emma Stone truly shines in 1960s drama ‘The Help’, challenging racism in the Deep South.

The Social Network: This week, details were revealed for the following two instalments of the ‘Fifty Shades’ series. Dakota Johnson made her first notable silver screen appearance in ‘The Social Network’, a fascinating insight into the story behind the phenomenal worldwide success of Facebook.

Napoleon Dynamite: It’s that time of year when revision is the hot word on everyone’s lips, or at least it should be. Maintaining the scholastic theme, ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ is an independent comedy film focusing on the weird and wonderful ways of Napoleon as he progresses through high school.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Molly Dolan