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.