Yesterday we circled the wagons around six films from 90s that we couldn't bear to see get the same treatment as Total Recall-- that is, getting remade. But while it's always your instinct to protect the movies you love, and to assume that a remake is the last-resort effort from a movie industry that's run out of ideas, remakes are basically as old as the movie itself. There are only so many stories you can tell anyway, and if you've got a good one, why not tell it again for a new generation? Ben-Hur was a remake. So was John Carpenter's The Thing. Seriously, they're not all bad.
And the best-case scenario for a remake is that it doesn't just tell the story well, but that it one-ups the original, bringing out themes the previous one didn't, or simply getting the casting right. And as Hollywood inevitably turns its attention to the 90s for stories they can repackage and sell all over again, there are more than a few movies that weren't really so great the first time, but could be great with just a few tweaks. Instead of looking back and wishing they'd gotten it right the first time, why not remake it and do it better? We've got six ideas of 90s movies that might be better as remakes-- take a look at our choices, and let us know your own in the comments below.
Remakes should only be applied to movies that didn’t work the first time through. Why touch Psycho or, to a lesser extent, this weekend’s Total Recall? Those movies worked the first time. Instead, remake flawed films that easily could be improved with better casting, a script polish and/or the industry’s advancements in technology.
Which is why Kevin Reynolds’ Waterworld is the ideal candidate for a remake. The premise still holds promise: Set in a post-apocalyptic future, where the melting polar ice caps have flooded 95% of our planet, a nameless anti-hero with fins and gills begrudgingly helps a young girl who might hold a valuable map to the mystical dry land. It’s hard to believe Waterworld’s $175M budget sank the film. Today, that figure seems cheap for a tentpole. Nearly 20 years ago, though, a project of this size and scope – set predominantly in the ocean – tested Universal’s bottom line and made it nearly impossible for the film to break even. The industry’s better equipped for Waterworld these days. Movies set at sea can be filmed in massive studio tanks. Cutting-edge digital effects could improve on the film’s various stunts. The underlying environmental message of Waterworld still holds weight. Cast a charismatic hero, shoot it in 3D (where the ocean will wash off the screen), and keep the budget in check, and a Waterworld remake could make Universal very rich.
I know what you’re thinking: Jan de Bont’s Speed is one of the classic 90s action movies. It’s one of those rare films that takes what should be a really stupid idea and turns it into something thrilling and cool, with an interesting love story at the middle and a great hero vs. villain dynamic. So why on Earth should a remake be made? Because it’s inevitable anyway.
Hollywood lives and breathes for simple stories that mass audiences can get behind, and now that more emphasis has been put on international box office numbers that’s truer than ever. On the plus side, it could be a good vehicle (no pun intended) for rising stars like Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock were back in 1994. It also happens to be a simple enough idea that any tweaks you make to the story or the twist will probably still work in the remakes favor (so long as you don’t move the plot from a bus to a boat). While I wouldn’t want to see the project fall into the hands of a hack, any director with a visual flair and a desire to take a risk could do interesting things with Speed. It’s not the best idea in the world, but why bother fighting an unstoppable force?
Remember when Hollywood tried to make Geena Davis an action star, releasing Cutthroat Island and Long Kiss Goodnight within a year of each other? Given that both movies tanked, that plan didn't pan out, but she was fun as the ferocious female pirate Morgan Adams at the center of the former, and I think this charismatic character deserves a second chance at the high seas.
Adams was sexy, sassy and could battle on par with all the burly, bearded blighters who surrounded her. And the waters of movie trends seem clear sailing for her triumphant return. First off, audiences worldwide clamored over each offering from The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, proving there is a market for buccaneer adventures. Secondly, in the wake of the record-shattering success of The Hunger Games it appears moviegoers are more on board with female-centered action-adventures than every before. And lastly, her story of waging war against her vile uncle while falling for a high society con man (originally played by a smirking Matthew Modine) is one so epic and ripe for dazzling costumes and explosive action sequences that'd it'd be a crime not to give it a flashy revamp with a savvy action-helmer attached.
Andrew Fleming's The Craft had a lot going for it, including a solid cast (Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor) and a fun, dark premise, but the story and the character development never fully gelled, and the film just didn't reach its full potential. Some would say it's better left in 1996 than remade for today's audience, but I see the next Heathers/Jawbreaker/Mean Girls just waiting to rear it's teen-dream head, reminding us yet again how much high school is a witch for the typical American teen girl.
The Craft remake wouldn't merely be a high school-set dark drama about a group of teen girls who discover they're witches and wreak havoc on their school. Let's incorporate a healthy share of dark humor into the mix this time around, with a sort of Paul Feig/Joss Whedon/Tina Fey infused combo-pack, merging humor, supernatural metaphor and a locker full of girl stuff into one movie that's humorous, dark and fun with just a little bit of depth. Cast Kristin Wiig as a teacher or the principal, and find the next generation's Bridesmaids-type female actors to play the witchy teens who attempt to dominate their school with their newfound powers.
Six Days, Seven Nights
The idea of Harrison Ford and Anne Heche as a pair of sparring would-be lovers is drop-dead hilarious now, but it was pretty inane even back in 1997, when Ivan Reitman's Six Days, Seven Nights took the age-old rom-com format and meshed it with an adventure film to completely uninteresting results. The movie is barely remembered for much of anything these days, so no studio would want to be cashing in on the name recognition-- but the movie's formula is something that would work much, much better today.
For that I mainly credit Lost, which took the typical desert island narrative and cranked it off into a whole new direction, pretty much rewriting the rules for what you can do with characters stuck on a desert island. Few movies have attempted that kind of high-flying sci-fi since then, but meshing it with the classic romantic comedy story of Six Days, Seven Nights would be an easy way to do it, in addition to condensing the thick narrative of Lost to the story of two people learning to love each other (like if Lost was just about Sawyer and Kate). Most importantly, a remake could correct the egregious casting error from the first time around, and give us not only the good romantic comedy we've desperately needed for years, but one with a side of adventure to go with it.
The Quick and the Dead
Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead has an excellent and exciting premise. From a script by Simon Moore, the 1995 revisionist Western follows a 'Lady With No Name' with a hidden past who wanders into the corrupt town of Redemption to try her fast hand at a dueling tournament. The conceit was so ripe with potential that the film was fast tracked into production… and right into box office failure despite featuring big names like Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman plus rising stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.
Not to say that money is any real indicator of quality, but The Quick and the Dead, although entertaining enough, was a serious missed opportunity. In his signature inventive but ostentatious style, Raimi infuses too much levity into what could have been an intense revenge tale with some serious (and cool) gun play. The sense of silliness and fun created by Raimi's camera undercuts the sequences that are supposed to have some emotional weight leaving them, well, laughable. In the right hands--perhaps The Proposition's Nick Cave and John Hillcoat?-- a remake of The Quick and the Dead could be the harrowing and violent portrait of a ruthless tournament befitting the wild, wild west, especially considering the focus on gender roles. And, in light of the recent rash of female led action flicks, with the right star, it could also be a big draw. Jennifer Lawrence?
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