There’s a reason why filmmakers should be careful in remaking a classic. There is always the danger of upsetting fans of the original, of course, as well as alienating a new generation. But there is a new problem. It is something that they probably never consider: the fact that the original has stood the test of time for a damned reason.
I just watched The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) immediately followed by the 2008 remake. For what it was, the remake was fine. However, unlike with the 1951 film, I felt no emotional attachment to any of the characters. In fact, it seemed the only reason to remake the film was so they could throw in CGI. Much the same reason as Peter Jackson’s version King Kong, which I must say is marketedly better than the movie I watched tonight.
I must say, however, that not all remakes are horrible. In fact, some have even surpassed the original, going on to become the preferred version. The Maltese Falcon (1941) with Humphrey Bogart is seen as the definitive version, and much preferred to the 1931 film with Ricardo Cortez or the 1936 version Satan Met a Lady with Bette Davis. All are based on the same source material, but it was happy circumstance the led to Bogey playing Sam Spade.
For whatever reason, Hollywood loves its remakes. With an abundant source of books and real life stories to mine from, why must they remake the same stories again and again? How many times must we have another adaptation of Dracula, A Christmas Carol, or retelling of The Bible? We get it. We’ve seen it before. If they want to astonish us, or astound us, shock us even, why not find an author who is worth a damn and adapt their book. There are untold numbers of books to begin with, and I’m sure we all have our ideas, so I won’t bore you with Mine (by Robert McCammon would agood idea).