Remakes are in the air, and always will be. However, a lot of dumb ones are convinced the latest one – Ghostbusters – will be bad because girls are gross and definitely not funny.
So, on this week of a weirdly controversial remake, I asked a variety of Seattle’s critics, writers and general movie nerds; What’s your favorite remake of the 21st Century?
The answer is tougher than one might think, since remakes, understandably, are easily mocked. There are quality remakes for horror (Dawn of the Dead, The Ring), comedy (Freaky Friday) fantasy (King Kong), period action (13 Assassins) and surprisingly more. For me, it’s a toss-up between two basically perfect films; The Departed and Ocean’s Eleven. Both are nearly impossible to stop watching once they begin, each distinctly tight narratives of large casts and twists, with one honing in on anxious tension and the other double-downing on more of “How can they get away with it this time” variety. I love them both dearly, but in the end, The Departed kicks me in the gut each time, and in that original go-around even more so. Plus, it has the advantage of remaking a superb film (Infernal Affairs), without merely being a copy and paste job.
Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
There are a couple solid selections here (Ocean’s Eleven being a standout), but I’ll say Dawn of the Dead. I know a lot of people hold George A. Romero’s original in high regard, as they should, but if you watch that film now, its low budget and pacing have not aged particularly well. On the other hand, the new Dawn of the Dead is an extremely tense, exciting and entertaining piece of work.
Some may forget, and you perhaps wouldn’t even realize when watching the movie, that it was directed by Zack Snyder, now known for making somewhat emotionally flat action pieces with lots of special effects. Dawn of the Dead was Snyder’s first feature-length film, and it offers everything that many people would say his current films do not: likable, engaging characters; tight storytelling; and fun factor.
With my wife out of town this weekend, I’ve now thought of a movie I should pop in…
Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @ SSRdotcom
Although I admire what Fede Alvarez was able to do with Sam Raimi’s demented love child Evil Dead, the honor of greatest remake must be bequeathed to Marty. That it took a remake for the Scors to earn his first Best Picture win and a little slice of Oscar gold of his own in the form of a Best Director statue, the value of The Departed should not be understated. Bleak, darkly comic and set ablaze by a cast that seems beamed in from some fantasy draft of actors (Dicaprio! Nicholson! Damon! Wahlberg! Sheen! Winstone! Baldwin!) The Departed adapts Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, giving it an identity of its own through a novel cultural lens without muddying what made the predecessor work so well. A grubby, unsettling, brilliant shitkicker of a crime epic, it’s hard not to include The Departed among the very finest of Scorsese’s career, a career that includes such masterworks as Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. This is how you do a remake.
Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Whether it’s remaking hardcore cult classics or American filmmakers reworking international films because domestic audiences don’t want to read, horror has more solid remakes than any other genre. Sure, we’ve had to wade through the new Nightmare on Elm Street, those Texas Chainsaw Massacre debacles, and countless other subpar rehashes, but we’ve also had exemplary updates like Dawn of the Dead (still Zach Snyder’s best movie), The Hills Have Eyes, and Evil Dead. Then there are English-language translations of modern foreign horror joints like The Ring, Let Me In, and We Are What We Are, which all stand close to the originals.
For my favorite remake of this millennium, however, I have to go with 2010’s Piranha 3D. French maniac Alexandre Aja took the manic camp of Joe Dante’s 1978 schlock fest about a swarm of killer fish devouring spring break and jacked that shit up to absurdist highs. No joke, it was my favorite movie that year by a landslide. Like the back end of a drive-in double feature, this is nudity and gore and the best use of 3D technology I’ve ever seen. (I don’t care about being immersed in some fully realized alien world, throw a chainsaw at my face and give me geysers of blood and we’re gold.) This movie makes me clap and giggle just thinking about it.