In with the New BLOGATHON: 4 remakes we think are better than the original films


Happy Weekend everyone! Today I’m participating in Wendell’s In With the New Blogathon, and here’s the gist of it from Dell himself:

In movies, we tend to look upon the new version of things with disdain or, at best, cautious optimism. By new version, I am of course talking about remakes and re-imaginings. Let’s be honest, we have good reason to be skeptical of these movies. They often pale in comparison to the original. Every once in a while, though, one comes along that blows its predecessor out of the water.

I think remakes that are better than the originals are still uncommon, but here are four films my pal Ted S. and I think are on par or better than the original. Anyway, the two films that Ted picks are taken from this previous post that compares remakes from their originals.

Ted’s Picks:

Man on Fire

1987 Original: Speaking of Tony Scott, he was actually set to direct this film way back in the 80s but at the time he was still new in the industry, so the studio didn’t want him to take over the project. They let some French director named Elie Chouraqui do the film instead. The original starred Scott Glen as Creasy and Joe Pesci as David, his character is that of Christopher Walken’s in the remake. I saw this version years ago at the recommendation of Quentin Tarantino, he loves the film and can’t stop talking about it while he was promoting Pulp Fiction. To be honest with you, the film wasn’t that good. The first 30 minutes or so was hard to sit through, but the rest of the film was pretty decent. The film was badly directed and acted, especially Joe Pesci, he was quite awful in the film. Also it was a very low budget film so it looked very cheap.

2004 Remake: So 17 years later, Tony Scott was finally able to make the film he wanted to do years back. He has more prominent stars with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken, and a bigger budget. The remake is pretty much the same as the original, except this one took place in Mexico while the original was set in Italy. Also the remake was much more violent and since it cost $70mil to make, so the action scenes were bigger and louder than the original.


Infernal Affairs/The Departed

2002 Original: The original version from Hong Kong was a very slick and cool thriller, and I knew Hollywood would do a remake of it right after I saw it back in early 2000s. In fact, Brad Pitt bought the rights to the film after he saw it and was going to star in it himself but he decided to just be the producer. The film was very fast paced with great cinematography and a cool soundtrack. To me though, the film didn’t spend enough time on character development, so we didn’t really know about them all that much. The women in the film were simply there just for eye candy purposes and the main gangster (Nicholson’s character in the remake) was played by a very weak actor.

2006 Remake: So the remake is pretty much the same as the original plot wise with the exception of the ending, I wouldn’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen either the original or the remake. In my opinion, the remake did a better job when it comes to developing the main characters, we know more about them and their motivations as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. Of course it helps a lot when it was directed by the master Martin Scorsese and the fact that Jack Nicholson played the Irish gangster.


Ruth’s Picks:

The Shop Around the Corner/You’ve Got Mail


1940 Original: I saw this movie a year ago or so, and given that I like Jimmy Stewart, I was prepared to be wowed by it. Well, it didn’t quite make an impression to me as much as had hoped. I find it odd that the film was set in Hungary and Stewart playing Hungarian, and that fact didn’t really add much to the story. The beginning the story was more about the various human relationships of the store in that gift shop. Stewart was okay here, but I personally prefer him in other films. There’s not much chemistry between him and Margaret Sullavan either, and so when they ended up together, it wasn’t emotionally involving. It’s not a bad movie per se, and I’m glad I saw it, just not something I’d ever see again.

1998 Remake: It’s loosely based on the same story, with some technological changes of course, it’s email vs letters, and in the remake, the characters are more of a business rival. I really think that the pairing of Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan (the queen of rom-coms back then) made the movie for me, and Ephron infused the story with such wit and irony that it’s such a delight to watch this one repeatedly. Of course the technology is so dated, it’s hilarious to hear that modem sound and that cutesy ‘you’ve got mail’ icon, but I think the story still holds up. I also love the two supporting cast here: Parker Posey and Greg Kinnear as Hanks’ girlfriend and Ryan’s boyfriend, respectively. It also boasts one of the loveliest New York City scenery in a movie.



1954 original: I also saw this film years after I saw the remake. Now people might say that usually we prefer films that we saw first and be that as it may, the original has one of my favorite classic actresses of all time: Audrey Hepburn. So she was really the main draw for me here, yet I didn’t really like her in this role as much as I had hoped. Similar to how I felt about Stewart, I prefer her in other films of similar genres, i.e. Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady. Well for one, Hepburn never really looked that shy or awkward to me nor did she come across as being desperate despite the attempted suicide scene. Now, suicide is obviously a dark subject matter but here it comes across rather silly and Sabrina seems like a petulant girl who’s upset things don’t go her way instead of someone who’s deeply brokenhearted. I also feel that Humphrey Bogart, who was three decades older than Hepburn, looked old enough to be her dad so their scenes are kind of creepy. William Holden was fun to watch as the rich playboy David but I too feel there’s not much chemistry between him and Hepburn. I still enjoyed the movie, but I expected more from Billy Wilder.

1995 Remake: I absolutely adore this movie the first time I saw it years ago, and I’ve seen it countless times since. I really connected with Sabrina Fairchild right from the start and Julia Ormond might not have the movie star charisma as Audrey Hepburn, but she more than made up for that in earnestness. I like how Sydney Pollack made her look plain, almost like an ugly duckling in the beginning, as she watched David with googley eyes from a tree. There is something so beguiling about Sabrina’s vulnerability here that I didn’t find in the original, and her narration really helps me get into her character’s head. Harrison Ford might seem like unlikely casting here but I actually really like him in the role of Linus, he’s such a contrast to the charming rascal younger brother David, played with such wonderful comic timing by Greg Kinnear. Ford was actually two decades older than Ormond but somehow it didn’t feel creepy as Ormond looked far more mature than Hepburn. I love everything about this movie, the look, the setting, the supporting cast (especially all the servants in the Larrabee’s mansion) and the absolutely gorgeous music by John Williams.


What do you think of our picks? Let us know in the comments!

53 thoughts on “In with the New BLOGATHON: 4 remakes we think are better than the original films

    1. Tim, please do! Still time to get in on this.

      As for these picks, I wholeheartedly agree with The Departed and Man on Fire. Haven’t seen either Sabrina, only parts of You’ve Got Mail, and none of Shop. Didn’t even know those last two had anything to do with one another. You have now tempted me to see those four. Great work, guys. Thanks for participating!

      1. Hi Dell! All four movies I mentioned are worth a look even if I prefer the remake versions. You’ve Got Mail is one of my fave rom-coms ever.

  1. Great picks! I haven’t seen the original Man on Fire or Infernal Affairs, but I’m a fan of the remakes. Ruth, I actually feel the opposite about your choices. I LOVE the classic versions of those rom-coms! 🙂

    1. He..he.. I knew I’d be in the minority for preferring the remake versions Josh. I didn’t dislike the original films, I just like the remake versions more for the reasons I mentioned.

    2. Hey Josh, Infernal Affairs was very good but to me Scorsese’s version had more depth and well it’s much a better film. The original Man on Fire has potentials but it wasn’t well directed at all.

    1. Thanks Mark! You’ve Got Mail is loosely based on the original film but the themes are pretty much identical. I know you’re not into rom-coms but you might enjoy the remake 🙂

  2. Abbi

    I have to respectfully disagree on Infernal Affairs/The Departed. I LOVED The Departed but Infernal Affairs is incredible.

    1. Hey Abbi, I totally understand, I know I might be in the small minority who prefer Scorsese’s version. I really enjoyed Infernal Affairs but to me it’s more plot driven and we don’t know much about the characters. Also, the women seems to be there just for eye candy. In The Departed, Vera Farmica’s character has a bigger role and actually part of the story.

  3. Interesting idea. The first film that came to my mind was 3:10 to Yuma. Really like the original but love the remake.

    Interesting take on Sabrina. I actually had a totally different reaction. I loved the Hepburn, Bogart, and Holden dynamic. I do like the remake but for me it felt like a remake. Again, like it a lot but not as much as the original.

    Fun post Ruth and Ted!

    1. Hey Keith! Y’know, the cast is indeed great in the original Sabrina, but somehow it didn’t sweep me away the way the remake did. There are still things I like about both original movies though, but it’s the remakes that I still love to rewatch repeatedly. It’s rare that it happens as usually I prefer the original version of a movie.

      1. I LOVE 3:10 to Yuma w/ Crowe & Bale, and I’m not usually into Westerns. I usually prefer the original versions in most films but there’s something about the 1995 Sabrina that I find absolutely enchanting. I connected more w/ Julia Ormond than I did w/ Audrey Hepburn.

  4. Ted I’m probably one of Scott’s biggest detractors so the less said the better. I can’t think of a director where style over substance applied more to him. Plus I’ll never be able to get my 2 hours back for sitting throughRevenge. Yikes… LOL.

    The Departed I’d agree with you even though Infernal Affairs was pretty damn good in its own right.

    Ruth not being a rom-com fan I actually haven’t seen any of those films so I can’t really comment. Sorry.

    There were some films that were apples and oranges like La Jetee/12 Monkeys, Sacrface (Hawkes)/Scarface (De Palma) so it’s hard to pick one over the other. Actually my pick is sort of a cheat because I couldn’t think of a film that, for me, truly blew away the original out of the water like this one did. Personally the single best remake I saw was not from film but from TV. 2004’s Battlestar Galactica was just mind blowing with its reboot. Especially the first three seasons. To quote The Boston Globe’s Joanna Weiss “This is a show about religion, politics, parent-child relationships, and the moral dilemmas of insurgency. Consider it a workplace drama where the business is armed resistance.” Like most sci-fi it was truly under appreciated in its time.

    Plus it contained one of the most beautiful pieces of music written for the small screen penned by Bear McCreary.

    1. Oooh I LOVE LOVE the 2004’s BSG, my hubby and I binge-watched ’em several years ago and we still love ’em to this day. I also love Bear McCreary’s soundtrack!

        1. So say we all, Dave! Hey would you do an appreciation post for BSG in the future? Or even a list of fave characters or something? I LOVE so many characters there, but the two Adamas + Starbuck are my top 3 😀

    2. LOL! You know QT also loved REVENGE and of course I had to see it. Even though I didn’t hate it, I agree it’s kind of waste of time to sit through it. The film has potentials but it just sort of ended when you think the film’s finally going to be good.

      I loved The Departed and I wanted to hate it because I thought it could never top Infernal Affairs. Of course under Scorsese’s direction, nothing can be bad. 🙂

    1. Nope, you’re not the only one. I enjoyed Let The Right One In BUT Let Me In was a much better film. The performances by the two leads were excellent and it may have been the most underrated film this decade. I think people dismissed it just because it’s a remake.

      1. Cool! Glad to see I’m not alone. Yes, the acting was better and, even though it was a very faithful remake, the American version had much more energy and was even darker, which I liked.

        1. Ted and Fernando while I thought Let Me In was a good adaptation of the book I didn’t think it held up to Let The Right One In in its adaptation. Why adaptation and not remake? Interestingly enough, Reeves was pretty emphatic that LMI was his film version of the book and NOT a remake of LTROI even though many of the shots from the movies are nearly identical. Semantics I know… but it is what it is. In the end though… you like what you like. Here’s my take on the movies.

          1) Had I not seen Chloë Grace Moretz as Hit Girl, one of the most memorable characters from the previous year, I’d have an easier time with my suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately this pulled me out of the film a bit. Same with Chloë and the Carrie remake. I thought Jenkins and Koteas were good casting choices for LMI though. Funny thing is Koteas, not Jenkins, usually plays the ultra creepy characters (See Crash or Exotica).

          2) While the LMI film’s leads are better actors this isn’t necessarily better for this particular movie At least in my mind. The two new leads in LMI deliver lines in a more scripted, obvious manner. Hedebrant (Oskar) and Leandersson (Eli) created a natural, unforced chemistry that didn’t come across as acting. *(See below) I thought this pairing gave the film more power and almost a sweetness. Especially to the final scene’s in the pool and on the train between the two. If you don’t know the Morse code message Oskar taps out on the box… Google it.

          3) LMI never really dealt with Abby’s gender whereas LTROI did with Eli. Most American filmmakers wouldn’t dare attempt to shoot the scene the way Alfredson shot the gender ambiguity reveal scene with Eli. While it was a risque scene, it’s still a 250 year old vampire were talking about and not a young child. Although that said, neither film dealt with the fact that Eli’s “father/keeper” was a pedophile in the book. Maybe this is why Alfredson didn’t reveal too much about the “father/keeper” character. Reeves beefed up the back story for Jenkins portrayal of the father which was, no better or worse, just a different take on that character.

          4) CGI vs practical effects. Now this is a personal preference. The cat attack scene admittedly didn’t look great in LTROI due to the low budget and was taken out altogether in LMI but the bleeding scenes where they entered w/o being invited worked so much better with practical effects. I just personally prefer practical effects whenever possible. (See The Dark Knight semi flipping scene vs The Dark Knight Rises stadium demolition scene). I gotta think J.J. Abrams went practical where possible on the new Star Wars due to the backlash to Lucas’s CGI overkill. J.J.’s even stated “I feel like the beauty of this age of filmmaking is that there are more tools at your disposal, but it doesn’t mean that any of these new tools are automatically the right tools. And there are a lot of situations where we went very much old school and in fact used CG more to remove things than to add things.”

          5) The atmosphere. I feel that 80’s New Mexico didn’t capture the bleakness of 80’s Sweden. It’s an intangible that I don’t feel should be overlooked. I thought the setting played a bigger part in LTROI then in LMI. Plus if Reeves put one more Culture Club song into LMI I might have had to poked myself in the eye with a blunt stick… or should I say ear. LOL.

          6) Lastly the climactic scene at the pool was just brilliant. Especially the underwater shot. The scene doesn’t even need subs in the clip below. The smile Oskar and Eli give each other in it actually eerily reminded me of the final scene from the recently releasedWhiplash…. for different reasons of course.

          *I just came across this gem from Marla who contributes to the blog . It sums up better than I can on why I like the original movie so much better than the remake to me.

          “Lina Leandersson (Eli) and Kåre Hedebrant (Oskar) portray a sorrowful and affecting relationship. They’re not as Hollywood-camera ready, but the connection between them is far deeper, more mature and more unnerving than Moretz’s and Smit-McPhee’s. Leandersson delivers the world-weariness of an ancient being while Moretz comes across as a soberly precocious child. And while Smit-McPhee’s Owen is certainly a little oddball, Hedebrant’s unconventional performance as Oskar is at times deeply unsettling. The kids in Let Me In are cute and talented. The kids in Let the Right One In are INTENSE.”

          1. My goodness Dave… this is worthy of its own post, man, you are incredible! I can’t contribute to this convo as I haven’t even seen either one of the films 😦

            1. Well Ruth I loved this film so much I just wanted to share my enthusiasm. It would surly be among my top 10 horror movies. One of my prerequisites for liking a horror film is emphasizing with the characters which I did strongly with LTROI. Which oddly enough was as much a horror story as it was a love story… albeit an unconventional one. I have to care what happens to the characters. Like for example Linda Blair in The Exorcist or Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween etc. In Friday The 13th they could have killed every single one of those kids and burned the camp to the ground for all I cared. LOL.

              That just reminded me of an old joke. How do you kill (insert crazed killer here…) Freddy Kruger/Jason Voorhees/Mike Meyers ? Stop going to their movies. LOL.

          2. Wow Dave, had no idea you loved the original version so much. Now you’ve made me want to watch it again, haven’t seen it in years. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see it again but I still love the performances by the leads in the remake. I’ve never read the book it’s based on but I wish the remake hinted about the sexuality of the female lead.

  5. Cool post! Haven’t seen the first too but I gotta love the departed even if I haven’t seen the original. I didn’t like it as much the second time around as I did the first, but it’s still a fun movie.
    The Sabrina’s are really interesting to me. I like them both but for totally different reasons. If you just want to watch a really well executed rom com, definitely go for the ’95 version. Apparently Bogart detested Hepburn so it’s not surprising the actors had no chemistry whatsoever (but then again they are actors lol). I think wilder does more with the social commentary in the original tho, especially with the character of Sabrina’s father, so I have to give Wilder points for going there.
    For best remake I have to go with 1959 Ben-Hur. The 1925 silent one is hard to watch nowadays, but ’59 holds up to this day. I have no idea why they’re remaking it AGAIN…. (I mean, obviously they want to do it with cgi, but they should let well enough alone in my opinion.)

    1. Hi Melissa! Thanks for the Sabrina 1954 trivia, I didn’t know Bogart detested Hepburn, I wonder why? Yeah that could explain the lack of chemistry, and plus he just looks too old next to her. I think the social commentary might’ve been a bit lost on me but y’know what, I remember being annoyed by the Larrabee brothers’ dad. I like that in the remake they had the Larrabbe’s mother instead and I like Angie Dickinson in that role.

      Oh I’d so agree with you about Ben-Hur even though I haven’t seen the silent film. I doubt the remake could ever touch that version, though the casting of Jack Huston as Judah did intrigue me a bit.

  6. I absolutely adore your list! I had no idea ‘Man on Fire’ was a remake. I’ve seen a lot of movies, but I’ve never heard of this one. It’s funny when I think of the movie ‘Internal Affairs,’ I think of the 1980s flick with Andy Garcia and Richard Gere. I think I’ve heard of the Hong Kong version, but didn’t realize that ‘The Departed’ was based on it. I absolutely adore “You’ve Got Mail.” It’s probably one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time. It was a remake that was actually better than the original. Lot of good info in this post.

    1. Hi Mariah! Yeah I often got ‘Internal Affairs’ mixed up w/ ‘INFERNAL Affairs’ too! Glad to hear you adore You’ve Got Mail, it’s one of those rom-coms I could watch over and over.

    2. Mariah, I don’t think many people knew about the original version of Man on Fire, it wasn’t well known at all and I don’t think it got a wide release here in the States. As for Infernal Affairs, I thought Hong Kong did a remake of INTERNAL AFFAIRS, Lol! I actually enjoyed both films though.

      1. Yes, I never heard of Man on Fire until Ridley Scott’s version. I like to consider myself a film buff, so I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this one before. As you said, it must not have been well-known in the states.

        1. I used to work at a video store back in college so I got to see so many films that not a lot of people knew about. Of course most of them are quite bad, which is why they’re not well known, haha. But sometimes you get to see some really good ones.

  7. I had no idea that Man on Fire was a remake!

    I love that you went for those classics…and I think I might actually agree with you, even though I do love those two classic films…they just were reimagined so beautifully.

    1. Hi Drew! That’s exactly how I feel! The original films are not bad, but the re-imagined versions are much better and more emotionally-involving. It’s one of those rare occasions that they improve on the original films.

    2. Andrew, not people knew about the original Man on Fire. I only knew about it because I’m a huge Tarantino fan and when he mentioned the film, I went and looked for it. Thankfully I was working at a video store at the time (yes I’m that old, lol) and found it.

  8. You’ve really made me want to see the Sabrina remake now Ruth. I love the original so I’ve had reservations about seeing another version. It’s strange how our love of particular films makes us feel about remakes…

    1. Hi Natalie! I hope you’d give Sabrina remake a shot, it really is a delightful film and who knows you might like it as much as I did. I’m usually skeptical about remakes too but this is a great example where it improves on the original, at least to me anyway.

  9. I have seen none that is better than the original because I don’t really like remake.

    I can still tolerate ones like You’ve got mail because the original was ages ago. So i can’t say that the remake is better or not compared to the original because I haven’t seen the original.

    What I can’t tolerate is the remake on Asia or Europe movies (basically non English speaking movies) because I think the remakes are just plain lazy; lazy to create something new and lazy to read subtitles. I only watch such remakes when my fav actor is in it, other than that I go for the original and ignore the remake.

    1. I agree that most remakes just aren’t that good compare to the originals but once in a while Hollywood tends to surprised me. I wasn’t excited when they announced the remakes of Infernal Affairs and Let The Right One In but to my surprise, they’re both were excellent and to me, much better than the original version. I don’t have anything against remakes if they do it the right way and improves and/or pay respects to the original. Also, some movies deserves a remake because the original version wasn’t that good.

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