Ranked: Best and Worst Remakes of the Past Decade

  • Publish Date: August 16, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 15 user comments

10 worst-reviewed movie remakes since 2000

1. Rollerball 14 (2002) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Rollerball (USA, 1975) Add to Netflix Queue

"Plentiful helpings of dreadful acting, confusing action cinematography, choppy editing and embarrassing dialogue, with the added bonus of a plot almost as dumb as that of the original film."

—Connie Ogle, Miami Herald

Having sat through the 2002 Rollerball at a screening prior to its release, I can attest to the urge to get up and leave the theater. John McTiernan (Die Hard) directed this ill-conceived remake of Norman Jewison’s 1975 film starring James Caan. Casting Chris Klein in Caan’s role was the first mistake McTiernan made, but not the last. The film replaces the essence of the first film (individuals vs. corporations) with a plot that revolves around violence equalling TV ratings. The film’s bad acting and worse dialogue seem cobbled together in post-production with poorly edited sequences that struggle to make narrative sense. Don’t let the promise of seeing Rebecca Romijn (Stamos at the time) nude entice you to give this film a chance; it has an extended action sequence filmed with “night vision” cameras. Enough said.

2. Prom Night 17 (2008) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Prom Night (Canada, 1980) Add to Netflix Queue

"How do you like your abysmal? Inept but distinctive, with lots of gratuitous violence and T&A;, and Leslie Nielsen in a serious role? Or slick but perfunctory, with no imagination and all the nasty bits scrubbed for mass consumption? That's the difference between 1980's Prom Night ... and the virtually in-name-only remake, which contents itself with delivering a few mild shocks to accompany its generic modern-rock soundtrack."

—Scott Tobias, A.V. Club

The horror genre could provide a list of best and worst remakes all by itself. New versions of classic horror films and Hollywood adaptations of foreign horror films come to theaters every year, so don’t expect this to be the last horror film on our list; it's simply the worst of several. The original Prom Night, starring Jamie Lee Curtis (the queen of scream at that time thanks to Halloween) and Leslie Nielsen, wasn’t a good film, but at least its killer was motivated by revenge. The 2008 remake features a much simpler stalker plot, Brittany Snow in the lead role, and a PG-13 rating. Too bad it doesn’t offer actual scares and a little gore like most horror films.

3. Swept Away 18 (2002) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August (Italy,1974) +Q

"Ritchie ... has in effect written a chapter of 'Lina Wertmüller for Dummies,' or turned a fable of love and domination into a 90-minute television spot for some unspoiled island getaway."

—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

This remake of Lina Wertmüller’s 1974 Italian film by Guy Ritchie and his then wife Madonna seems ill-conceived from the beginning. How could audiences and critics not embrace Madonna playing a stuck-up socialite shipwrecked on a Mediterranean island with the ship’s Italian first mate? To appeal to modern audiences, Ritchie removes the Marxism and tones down the misogyny, but his stunt casting of Adriano Giannini, son of the original film's star Giancarlo Giannini, doesn’t pay off, so the film is left with two leads who look good in bathing suits but can’t act. The inevitable result was a box office bomb that "won" five Razzie awards.

4. Black Christmas 22 (2006) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Black Christmas (Canada, 1974) Add to Netflix Queue

"The remake neither pays perceptive tribute to the original nor updates it in anything but hackneyed form."

—Desson Thomson, Washington Post

Director Glen Morgan (Willard) fills the cast of 2006's Black Christmas with a bevy of young ladies (Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Crystal Lowe, Lacey Chabert, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but it can’t distract from the failure of this remake to reach the heights of the 1974 Canadian slasher classic directed by Bob Clark (who went on to even greater—if tamer—holiday film success with A Christmas Story). Dispensing with the police subplot from the original and adding flashbacks to fill in the killer’s backstory doesn’t improve on Clark's film. Maybe future directors of horror remakes will realize that more gratuitous violence doesn’t necessarily equal a better horror film.

(tie) 5. Bangkok Dangerous 24 (2008) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Bangkok Dangerous 45 (Thailand, 1999) Add to Netflix Queue

"I'm beginning to suspect there's some sort of ancient, or at least post-Pearl Harbor, curse in play that stops genre-oriented Asian filmmakers from creating anything of but the most negligible merit once they hit the California shore."

—Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

The Pang brothers’ 2002 ghost story, The Eye, was remade in 2008 with Jessica Alba in the lead role. That remake was not successful, but what if the Pang brothers remade their first film, 1999’s Bangkok Dangerous, themselves? No, that doesn’t work either. Of course, it didn't help matters that the brothers changed the original’s main character, a deaf-mute hitman, into Nicolas Cage. The failure of many Hollywood remakes can be summed up in this quote from Oxide Pang in an interview with the New York Times prior to shooting the remake, “We'd like to keep him the same, but we understand that from a marketing purpose Nic needs to have some lines. So what we're going to do is transform his girlfriend into a deaf- mute. By switching the roles, the drama of communication between two people will remain the same.” Nic Cage does not need lines, but he needs to stop doing remakes (Gone in 60 Seconds 35, The Wicker Man 36).

(tie) 5. Get Carter 24 (2000) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Get Carter (UK, 1971) Add to Netflix Queue

"If you've never seen the original, you may have no idea what's going on."

—John Patterson, L.A. Weekly

Taking a classic British crime drama starring Michael Caine and turning it into a Sylvester Stallone vehicle is not a recipe for success. Critics will unfavorably compare it to the original before walking into the theater. The remake does away with the original’s dark ending and can’t make Seattle into the grim backdrop that Tyneside supplied for the original, but a little fun can be found in a cameo by Michael Caine and scene-chewing supporting roles by Alan Cumming and Mickey Rourke.

(tie) 5. Mr. Deeds 24 (2002) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (USA, 1936) Add to Netflix Queue

"Adam Sandler does Frank Capra wrong. His unfunny remake stomps all over the honest values and endearing qualities of the original."

—Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun

It’s rare that an Adam Sandler movie gets any love from the critics, and this remake of the Frank Capra classic starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur is no exception. Sandler plays Longfellow Deeds from Mandrake Falls, the same good-natured, aspiring greeting card writer Gary Cooper played in the original. Winona Ryder plays Babe Bennett, a reporter for a TV tabloid show (instead of a newspaper). The remake sticks to the basic structure of the first film but adds more punching, a cameo by John McEnroe, a character named Crazy Eyes played by Steve Buscemi, and either a brilliant or bizarre (or both) performance by John Turturro.

(tie) 5. One Missed Call 24 (2008) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of One Missed Call 54 (Japan, 2004) Add to Netflix Queue

"One Missed Call was originally a so-so Takashi Miike freak-out. Now it's a worse-worse American eyesore."

—Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

To say this is the worst of the many Japanese horror remakes is saying something when the number of remakes is considered (The Ring 57, Dark Water 52, The Grudge 49, The Ring Two 44, Pulse 27 just to name a few). Takashi Miike, who made our best remake since 2000, directed the original One Missed Call, but the Hollywood remake, featuring lifeless performances by Shannyn Sossamon and Edward Burns, failed to scare anyone. The plot revolves around cell phone calls from the future, and anyone who saw the film probably wishes they would have received a voicemail warning them not to waste their time.

(tie) 5. Sorority Row 24 (2009) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of The House on Sorority Row (USA, 1983) Add to Netflix Queue

"An interminable mess of a film that juggles more characters and undeveloped subplots than it can handle and even manages to bungle the setup."

—Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Scantily clad sorority sisters are killed one by one in this remake of the 1983 slasher classic. While the general idea of a killer stalking a group of women is a staple of the horror genre, the inciting incident of the two films differs greatly. Instead of accidentally killing their house mother, Mrs. Slater, the sorority sisters in the 2009 remake pull a prank on one of their cheating boyfriends who then accidentally kills his girlfriend. This completely changes who the killer is and what motivates all the slaughter, but one refreshing element in the remake that most critics agreed upon was the campy fun of Carrie Fisher toting a shotgun.

10. Taxi 27 (2004) Add to Netflix Queue
Remake of Taxi (France, 1998)

"Queen Latifah is a natural-born charmer, but there's only so much she can do when paired with a costar so irritating it's hard not to squirm when he's on the screen, which is most of the time."

—Maitland McDonagh, TV Guide

There were a few films tied (at 27) for this final spot on our worst list, but this 2004 action-comedy from Fantastic Four director Tim Story deserves the spot as the only one of the films to feature Gisele Bündchen as the leader of an all-girl bank robbing gang, Jimmy Fallon as an undercover detective unable to drive a car, and Queen Latifah as a cab driver who dreams of driving in NASCAR. Taxi is based on a 1998 French film of the same name that was written by Luc Besson and spawned three sequels. While the Hollywood version didn’t lead to any sequels, and found no love from critics, it did gross almost $69 million worldwide, a decent take for a film reportedly budgeted at just $25 million.

What do you think?

What are your favorite and least favorite remakes from recent years? What about remakes from prior to 2000? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (15)

  • NelsonH  

    Personally, I find most remakes insulting to my intelligence and tastes. I'm supposed to watch the remade movie and think that it's an improvement. NOT What I find insulting is the notion that younger actors and more special effects are going to make me like the remake better - while ignoring the elements that made the original film a good one.

    All of this is, really, cowardice and complete lack of any real creativity on the part of the studios who fear spending money on anything that hasn't already made money.

  • EssenceOfSugar  

    You know, Fright Night wasn't so bad. I wonder what the original was like.

  • GeorgeVader  

    For some reason the director of Pyscho's name is a swear word!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • GeorgeVader  

    Surely the remake of **** 'Psycho' must rank as the most pointless remake EVER, 'honourable' mentions to 'Halloween', 'The Ladykillers'....so many bad bad remakes, Hollywood at it's very laziest.

  • scotland52  

    I have come to believe the only people that count in Hollywood and "their" business are the people that make movies. Narrow minded, self-serving people who think remakes are interesting. What ever happened to making good original movies worth watching. Case in point the most recent releases Conan and Apollo 18. All the hype and where do they sit, at the bottom of the list. When was the last time there were good original movies made without thousands of special effects. Where are the movies where the story revolves around actors that can act. There seems to be to few real actors and too many reality types in the movies. I see maybe 2 movies a year and those are based on word of mouth and not critics or studios blowing their paid horn or their own. Why is it that with the number of authors and books out there that there should not be a steady flow of good to excellent movies out there every year. What ever happened to having screenwriters who could take a great book and make it a great movie. I look at what tv produces with shows that push the boundaries with good story lines week in and week out. Even now, while watching HBO movie channels I find myself watching slightly older, very seldom remakes that I would almost pay to see in a theatre again rather than taking a chance or what is out there now.

  • ALF  

    Remakes! The last bastion of a Hollywood and major TV channel system which cancels decent series and make remakes rather than exploring new fields and having some balls not to be intimidated by the nutty factions, an example being the actions which stopped sequels to Golden Compass being made. Worst remakes. Solaris with George Clooney. Terrible. Watch the original 1970's Russian masterpiece which even scientists recently ranked as fifth all time favourite. The Ring films. The US makers lost the whole meaning. The Japanese versions are the only ones to watch and believe me, they are the only films ever to make the hairs on my neck stand up.

    The Magnificent Seven. Another awful remake of a great Japanese film, the Seven Samurai. There have been a few good remakes. They were so good I have forgotten what they were !

  • horabi  

    how about brothers from danish film brodre

  • RimmaGibbon  

    remakes: people either compare it to the original (where the original will mostly win) or the knowledge of plot sucks the surprise out of the film. As for freaky Friday, and King kong in the best list and Mr Deeds in the worst list!?!? given the choice id def go see sandler over those other two, its not the finest film by any standards including his own, but at least its entertaining.

  • Spielberg00  

    I thought THE GRUDGE was a pretty bad remake...

  • conditionals  

    Death at a Funeral REALLY didn't need to be remade. I would have put it on the list instead of Taxi, but then again I'm a diehard Fallon fan and shouldn't be trusted.

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