It seems now more than ever that we are living in an age of reboots and remakes – from every Disney animation to even a Gossip Girl TV reboot, there is a sense that original screenplays and content are becoming more of a rarity. But does this mean we scrap all remakes, or is there actually something to enjoy that their originals missed out?
The cynical (and realist) in me pictures a boardroom of executives carelessly churning out each remake, personifying essentially a studio pocketing more money and congratulating their earlier work while they’re at it. As long as there is a gimmick, they are good to go. Aladdin has a new song! Mulan is more gritty now, I guess? Either way, people still go through those cinema doors to experience that nostalgia, and whether the film is passable or terrible, it seems to work every time.
This is not to say that all remakes should be looked at with the same cynical eye. On the other hand, some remakes become so iconic for their own style and performances that they take on a new life of their own. Most people who think of Freaky Friday will imagine Lindsay Lohan from 2003 and not the 1976 original starring Jodie Foster. Likewise the first iteration of Scarface (based on Armitage Trail’s novel) was released way back in 1932, but Al Pacino and his iconic lines has secured the 1983 version as a movie classic. It seems, therefore, that a remake can be equally as successful as its original counterpart. But ultimately the director’s stylistic choices, the actors’ performance and reasons behind the film like relevancy and personal connection determine how much of a shameless cash grab it feels to the audience.
In light of this, the biggest and most common criticism a remake can receive is that it is unnecessary. Let Me In (2010) is by no means a bad film, yet it still is an American remake of the Swedish original Let the Right One In, which was only released two years before. Particularly common in the horror genre is the repurposing of films for English-language audiences, often being largely the same in every aspect other than the need for subtitles. It is frustrating that people miss out on so many films due to them being in another language and because of that barrier, remakes often seem like a sad solution to this non-issue.
Overall, remakes and reboots in themselves are not always bad and there are so many reasons why they are made beyond the negatives many complain about. Ultimately it is up to you, the cinema-goer, to determine how worthwhile a remake really is – if you feel like it is sadly yet another corporate attempt of recapturing the magic of the original, talk with your feet!