Tuesday, December 13, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: Movies I'm Glad Were (re)Made

Last week, I wallowed in bitterness at the steaming pile of celluloid that passes for remade movies being released of late. This week, I look at the flip side and look at some of the best of the recycled.  I was surprised to actually come up with a full list of titles where I'd seen both (or at least two) versions, although I have to admit it did take some thinking. 

1.  3:10 to Yuma. I loved that the remake of this movie actually focused on relationships between the characters -- while at the same time bringing the gunfighting into the 21st century. I also loved that the ending so unexpected! I wish more westerns (remakes or originals) were as good!

2.  Ocean's 11. The reasons to like the remake of this story begin with the fact that there's no singing. The cast is wonderfully diverse and the acting keeps the same light and slightly smirky feel to the story that the original tried to portray. The ending in the Brad Pitt version is nothing like the original, but that's not a bad thing when all the rest of it is so entertaining.

3.  13 Assassins. Like its predecessor, it takes the time to honor the conventions of a good samurai film: It takes the time to introduce its characters, it is unapologetically violent, it brings a dash of witticism to contrast the sadistic villainy and the battles are truly epic. What makes this movie better are a few new twists and turns and cinematography that brings the movie into the right century.

4.  True Grit. When I heard the Coen brothers were remaking this movie, I cringed. It is a classic of Western films, after all, and made John Wayne a household name. When I saw in, though, I was very much impressed. It focused on the girl, which made the movie interesting from the point of view of the plot, and had a much better ending. It paid appropriate homage to the original, though, by keeping much of the same kind of language as the original film.

5.  Star Trek. This movie was like letting go of an old, yet very comfortable pair of shoes for me. I knew it needed to be done, but I mourned the fact that the old version was so used up, so well worn that nothing more could be gained from it. I hoped that, when it came out, it didn't destroy an innovative, engaging universe that had growing and maturing for some 40 years. I was relieved to see that it did not. In rebooting the franchise, J. J. Abrams breathed what I hope will give another 40 years to those of us who want to continue the mission to explore strange, new worlds and new civilizations.

6.  King Kong. The original film is very much a classic, and that should properly have put this remake on last week's list, but after watching it I changed my mind. The new version doesn't displace the original, but pays it appropriate respect by sticking with the same time period and storyline while taking advantage of the latest in visual effects (something the 1933 film was recognized for, as well).

7.  Casino Royale. James Bond was another franchise desperate for a reboot, and this one does a beautiful job of it! Daniel Craig makes a real (flawed, tortured) version of 007, supported by better (darker) writing and intense action sequences. I used to go see every new Bond film when it came out because it had become something of a tradition. I'm genuinely excited to see the series continue now in a way I haven't ever been, thanks to this film and its sequel, Quantum of Solace.

8.  Batman Begins. I was ruined on the story of Batman after Tim Burton's version (and the incessant mediocre sequels that followed), but this film restored my faith in Hollywood to do justice to comic book superheroes. Christian Bale gives Batman the dark, yet realistic flavor he's been needing and the plot actually did justice to Batman's origins, instead of going straightaway to his clashes with the Joker.  If the rest of the superhero universe would take some notes, please?

9.  I Am Legend. This is the third film to be based on Richard Matheson's book (1954). I've never seen the first one (The Last Man on Earth, made in 1964), and the second one, Omega Man (1971) was just not that engaging. The Will Smith version, however, scared me to death!  It was edgy, dark, suspenseful and every bit as unpredictable as I could stand without jumping out of my seat and spilling my popcorn.  The nightmares have faded over time.

10. M*A*S*H. The movie was forgettable, but not the TV series. The weekly ritual of watching this show provided some memorable moments from my childhood and the series finale easily ranks as one of my favorite episodes of any show, ever. I don't know if today's kids would find it as entertaining as I did, but I would hope that someone, somewhere would succeed in producing for every generation an ensemble show that is as funny, yet poignant, as this was in its time.


Mrs. Chili said...

I've not seen many of the originals you've mentioned here, but I have to second I Am Legend. I'm showing it to my Aliens and Vampires in Literature kids (they read the Matheson short story), and I'm planning on giving them Omega Man, too. I suspect we'll have some interesting conversations.

Dman said...

Okay, so, not too bad of a list here.

1.) I have not seen either 3/10 to Yuma films. Though my dad has and says they both are pretty good.
2.) I am very glad they remade Oceans 11. They made is more modern, with more intrigue, more suspense, more action. It was pretty great.
3.) Again, haven seen it. Of what I hear about it, people say it's alright.
4.) It would also be nice to understand what Jeff Bridges is saying! But other than that, nice job on the film.
5.) Yes. Just yes. That is all.
6.) I feel this was unnecessary to remake (again), but Peter Jackson did a nice job with it, even if it was a little stupid at points.
7.) I completely agree. Bond needed to be reenergized and did so beautifully with Casino Royale. Daniel Craig plays an excellent Bond and I am very much looking forward to seeing him in Skyfall.
8.) Chis Nolan did do a nice job in getting Batman back to being Batman. Though, some of the scenes (especially the action sequences) were hard to comprehend thanks to sub-par editing.
9.) I have seen both previous films based on I Am Legend. The first one was cheesy as crap, second didn't appeal to me, but the film made in 2009 really spoke to me. It's Will Smith. All alone. Violent zombies are everywhere. Gotta try to survive night to night. Scary stuff, man.
10.) I am very surprised at myself that I haven't seen this yet. I keep hearing great things about it.

So, not too bad of a list. Would love to get you opinions on films such as Transformers and Spider-Man.