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.
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.
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!