Empire Magazine's "50 Remakes That Worked"

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Heat (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist, while both sides attempt to find balance between their personal lives with their professional lives. (170 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
“ What's good about the remake?: Though both appeared separately in The Godfather II, Heat marks the first on screen partnership between two acting greats, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino bouncing off each other exquisitely as the cop and criminal who are more alike than they might care to admit. With an excellently edgy turn from Kilmer, and that shootout there too, it's a beautifully shot crime epic - and for the coffee shop scene alone it deserves to be remembered for decades to come.

How does it compare to the original?: 1989's original was Mann's made-for-TV first attempt at creating a movie from his labour of love script, and is used as a skeleton for the remake to work from, removing unneeded subplots and refining the whole. With a far bigger budget and far bigger names, its production values are vastly different but the yin/yang character dynamic remains.

Did you know...Mann disowned L.A. Takedown after NBC cut it down drastically to fit its TV time slot - though it was still 3 hours long. Mann eventually said: "You can call it a Michael Smithee or an Alan Mann movie" - but not a Michael Mann movie. ” - colm-hearne365
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A research facility in Antarctica comes across an alien force that can become anything it touches with 100% accuracy. The members must now find out who's human and who's not before it's too late. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
The Fly (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (96 mins.)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. (121 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ What's good about the remake?: Men in drag are the evergreens of comedy, turning up over millennia to amuse us with their fake boobies and silly wigs - but drag was never funnier than in this Wilder classic, with a top-flight comedy cast and Marilyn Monroe almost self-parodic in her sexiness.

How does it compare to the original film?: It outshines it like the sun against the moon. That's no disrespect to the German film, which is a perfectly respectable, but Wilder's film amps up the tension with the addition of gangsters and the very real prospect of starvation in the Depression setting, and amps up the funny with the inspired casting of Curtis, Lemmon, Monroe and secret weapon Joe E. Brown.

Did you know...Some Like It Hot was banned on release in Kansas. Apparently cross-dressing was "too disturbing" for Kansans. ” - colm-hearne365
Cape Fear (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him. (128 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
The Departed (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston. (151 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. (116 mins.)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. (129 mins.)
Director: Terry Gilliam
His Girl Friday (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying. (92 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes. (128 mins.)
Director: John Sturges
Scarface (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed. (170 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
Airplane! (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick. (88 mins.)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. (100 mins.)
Director: John Huston
An Affair to Remember (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A couple falls in love and agrees to meet in six months at the Empire State Building - but will it happen? (115 mins.)
Director: Leo McCarey
Ben-Hur (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (212 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
“ What's good about the remake?: Its 11 Academy Awards couldn't be more deserved: the acting, the photography, the effects, the stagecraft, the music, the sound? Even now, 1959's Ben-Hur is a glorious, emphatic, bum-numbing triumph of optimism and creativity, costing a then record-breaking $15 million and eventually conquering the world and the Academy. It's the most epic of epics, an absolute classic of its kind and of all cinema - and not a pixel in sight.

How does it compare to the original?: First of all, the original is a silent movie, and despite being the most expensive silent movie ever made its production values pale into insignificance in comparison to the 1959 epic. That said, a certain young Mr Wyler was an assistant director on the original, taking the chariot scene (a huge undertaking in 1925 and one that resulted in a fatality) almost shot for shot in the remake.

Did you know...The remake used a reported 1 million props and 300 specially built sets, processing 1,250,000 feet of film by the end of the production. ” - colm-hearne365
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Jonathan and Lucy live in Wismar and the Count wants a house there. Varna is a port on the Black Sea, close to Dracula's castle. (107 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A very rich and successful playboy amuses himself by stealing artwork, but may have met his match in a seductive detective. (113 mins.)
Director: John McTiernan
Sorcerer (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Four unfortunate men from different parts of the globe agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across dangerous South American jungle. (121 mins.)
A Star Is Born (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A film star helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career on a downward spiral. (154 mins.)
Director: George Cukor
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall. (101 mins.)
Director: Zack Snyder
The Quiet American (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An older British reporter vies with a young U.S. doctor for the affections of a beautiful Vietnamese woman. (101 mins.)
Director: Phillip Noyce
Vanilla Sky (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover. (136 mins.)
Director: Cameron Crowe
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge. (99 mins.)
Director: Sergio Leone
“ What's good about the remake?: Three points: it reinvented the Western, it brought the world Clint and Clint the world, and it created its own sub-genre, the Spaghetti Western. More specifically, every close-up of Clint's grizzled chops is a joy for the eyes, every beat from Ennio Morricone's score a delight for the ears, and all for the grand price of a couple of pints and a packet of crisps.

How does it compare to the original film?: Both are built around strong, brooding leads: unshaven, uncouth, laconic, superfast gunslinger / swordswinger types, and the idea of a corrupt town's two gangs being played against each other is the main thrust of both plots. But the directors' stylings and cinematographical trademarks separate them hugely.

Did you know...Kurosawa launched a plagiarism suit after Dollars' release, settled a year later with him receiving 15 percent of the takings and a minimum of $100,000. MGM/United Artists have still not acknowledged that Dollars was a remake. ” - colm-hearne365
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering. (120 mins.)
“ What's good about the remake?: James Stewart, in American everyman mode, plays the doesn't-know-it-all to perfection, thrust into the world of deceit and deception, in a perfect bit of Hitchcockian casting. Doris Day, likewise, is spot on, though you might not have seen that one coming as easily, and manages to successfully crowbar in the Oscar-winning 'Que Sera, Sera' rendition in there too.

How does it compare to the original film?: Hitchcock self-effacingly said to Truffaut that, "The 1934 version was the work of a talented amateur, the 1956 version the work of a professional", but this is very unfair. Both are very good thrillers, and though they share some scenes almost exactly, each has its own tone and plot changes so as to make both well worth a watch.

Did you know...The remake's Albert Hall sequence is 12 minutes long, made of 124 shots, and contains absolutely no dialogue. ” - colm-hearne365
The Ten Commandments (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people. (220 mins.)
“ What's good about the remake?: This isn't a movie; it's a 'motion picture event', a flamboyant and ostentatious romp, and a film that doesn't do anything by halves. This telling tackles the well-known story with such fanfare and pomp that it's as if DeMille himself had God on speed dial for consulting purposes. The dialogue might have dated badly, but its sheer arrogance and blow-your-socks off brashness make it a stone-cold classic.

How does it compare to the original film?: DeMille's silent original varies tremendously in that it's a film of two halves - the first concentrating on the biblical story, the second a tale of modern men dealing with commandments and how they affect their lives. Some of the first section was remade shot for shot even as the rest was jettisoned. But the pomposity? It's there in spades in both tales.

Did you know...1,200 storyboard sketches were drawn for the remake, the script was 308 pages long, containing 70 speaking parts, and the finished article eventually used over 14,000 extras and 15,000 animals in total. ” - colm-hearne365
King Kong (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A movie crew, travelling to a mysterious island to shoot their picture, encounter a furious gorilla, taking their leading actress and forming a special relationship with her, protecting her at all costs. (187 mins.)
Director: Peter Jackson
“ What's good about the remake?: Peter Jackson's Rings follow-up saw him once again daring to step on hallowed ground, taking on a classic and managing to deliver something rather beautiful. If it isn't quite held in the same esteem as his epic trilogy, that's not to say that it isn't good. Slow build-up or no, this is a giant ape who will break your heart all over again.

How does it compare to the original film?: Jackson nearly doubled the running time, but the effects are, of course, in a different class. What they lack in shonky charm they make up for in dazzling detail. Still, the original will probably always be more highly regarded, creating as it did the monster movie and blockbuster all at once.

Did you know...Jackson's film could have been even longer: the script included scenes where the crew build a raft to cross a swamp and fight off attacking critters, and one where cook Lumpy (Andy Serkis) shoots a flightless bird. ” - colm-hearne365
War of the Worlds (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival. (116 mins.)
Blow Out (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger. (107 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
Night and the City (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The story about a cheating and incompetent lawyer (Harry Fabian) who suddenly gets obsessed on becoming a boxing promoter. (105 mins.)
Director: Irwin Winkler
Insomnia (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Two Los Angeles homicide detectives are dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn't set to investigate the methodical murder of a local teen. (118 mins.)
True Lies (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A fearless, globe-trotting, terrorist-battling secret agent has his life turned upside down when he discovers his wife might be having an affair with a used car salesman while terrorists smuggle nuclear war heads into the United States. (141 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
“ What's good about the remake?: Cameron's gleefully over-the-top action comedy has lots of intentional gags in its witty script, but gets far more laughs for sheer, balls-out audacity. Arnie and Jamie Lee-Curtis snogging in front of a mushroom cloud? Arnie in a Harrier jet firing a baddie, hanging from a missile, through a building into a chopper full of accomplices? Such movies barely scratch the surface of the insanity on display here.

How does it compare with the original film?: The basic plot is the same: wife discovers her aggressively boring husband is in fact a glamorous international spy. But Thierry Lhermitte and Arnold Schwarzenegger hardly play the same character - and the action dial is amped up to ear-bleeding levels with Cameron in charge and a much bigger budget.

Did you know...Jamie Lee Curtis really did dangle out of a helicopter for that pivotal scene - but she only agreed to do it because Cameron promised he'd be hanging out after her with a camera. ” - colm-hearne365
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion. (115 mins.)
Director: Philip Kaufman
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher. (122 mins.)
Director: James Mangold
“ What's good about the remake?: Bringing the 1957 Western a-kickin' and a-screamin' into the post-Unforgiven era, Mangold ups the action and tones down the niceties, gathering together an excellent cast in the form of Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and Ben Foster (who almost steals the show as the evil second-in-command), showing that Westerns still have their place through blazing gunfights and sheer grumpy badassness

How does it compare to the original film?: Crowe's character, the captured head of the gang, fated to board that train to Yuma prison, is made harsher and yet somehow more charming. There are tweaks here and there, but the most noticeable change is in tone: far grittier and harsher than its clean-cut grandfather.

Did you know...Much like High Noon, exactly ten minutes go by between the clock striking 3:00pm and the train actually arriving on screen. ” - colm-hearne365
Man on Fire (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In Mexico City, a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect. (146 mins.)
Director: Tony Scott
The Mummy (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
An American serving in the French Foreign Legion on an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Hamunaptra accidentally awakens a mummy that wreaks havoc on him, and his crew. (125 mins.)
Director: Stephen Sommers
Scent of a Woman (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated. (156 mins.)
Director: Martin Brest
“ What's good about the remake?: Martin Brest's CV is a riddle. For every Midnight Run, there's a Gigli; for every Axel Foley, a Joe Black. Happily, his early '90s coming-of-age tale is filed firmly under 'Column A'. Pacino chews the scenery, and a serious chunk of the Big Apple, as the suicidal ex-Ranger who reads 1000 Things To Do Before You Die and then tries to do all of them in two days. All while not hitting Chris O'Donnell. Hoo-ah!

How does it compare to the original?: The Dead-Poets-take-Manhattan subplot is crowbarred onto an Italian original that offers a much less varnished version of Pacino's character. Vittorio Gassman's abusive misanthrope may still be blind, but he's about as deep-down charming as a month-old panini. So on the likeability front, the American film wins.

Did you know...Both films were nominated for Oscars (Best Foreign Film in Profumo Di Donna's case), though they lost out to Unforgiven and Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala respectively. ” - colm-hearne365
Outland (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder. (112 mins.)
Director: Peter Hyams
The Ring (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it. (115 mins.)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Saboteur (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend. (109 mins.)
Disturbia (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer. (105 mins.)
Director: D.J. Caruso
The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Will Thomas still lead a life of crime and cruelty, just like his thuggish father, or will he pursue his dream of becoming a pianist? (108 mins.)
Director: Jacques Audiard
The Birdcage (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée's right-wing moralistic parents. (117 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
Brothers (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young man comforts his older brother's wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan. (105 mins.)
Director: Jim Sheridan
“ What's good about the remake?: A cast best known for blockbusters and roles as callow youths - Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman - mature and grow before our eyes in a harrowing story of a family torn apart and brought together by war and trauma. Great performances all around, a sure directorial hand from Jim Sheridan and a kicker of an ending.

How does it compare to the original film?: This one sticks fairly close in plot and finale, but the Danish film had the advantage of surprise in its twists and turns, and also of a slightly less Hollywood feel; this is one of those times when having a starry cast tends to count against a film for the critics. Still, it's a commendable and well-acted remake.

Did you know...U2 recorded the (Golden Globe-nominated) song Winter especially for the remake. The band and Sheridan go way back; Sheridan used to run the Project Art Club in Dublin in the 1970s when the band were first playing live gigs. ” - colm-hearne365
Enemy Mine (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A soldier from Earth crash-lands on an alien world after sustaining battle damage. Eventually he encounters another survivor... (108 mins.)
The Parent Trap (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, later discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together. (128 mins.)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Quarantine (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC, after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers. (89 mins.)
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A police sergeant must rally the cops and prisoners together to protect themselves on New Year's Eve, just as corrupt policeman surround the station with the intent of killing all to keep their deception in the ranks. (109 mins.)
Funny Games (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Two psychopathic young men take a family hostage in their cabin. (111 mins.)
Director: Michael Haneke
3 Men and a Baby (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Three bachelors find themselves forced to take care of a baby left by one of the guys' girlfriends. (102 mins.)
Director: Leonard Nimoy
The Italian Job (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally. (111 mins.)
Director: F. Gary Gray