Top 10… Remakes

More and more it seems there’s no original ideas in mainstream Hollywood, but it turns out that this has always been the case, and it just seems more prevalent now because there’s so many more films released each week, and less original stories to go around, so therefore there’s more rehashed versions of films gone by available to us on a weekly basis. 2012 saw three remakes in the Box Office Top 20 (The Amazing Spider-Man, Snow White and the Huntsman, Les Miserables), and this is far from new, hell, even The Wizard of Oz was a remake back in 1939 of three silent films that came before it (and a book, but everything’s a remake of a book these days). The thing is though… I don’t mind. I have no problem with modern film makers updating older films to introduce them to a wider audience – there have been several instances where a remake has inspired me to go back and see the original, and I’ve discovered a classic that I otherwise may have never found (Scarface springs to mind).

So what inspired this list? Well, The Film Vituperatum‘s movie of the week is The Adventures of Robin Hood, which whilst I haven’t seen it yet and therefore haven’t got around to reviewing, I am more than familiar with the story, mainly due to the various adaptations of it. If I had to guess, I’d say the story of Robin Hood is probably one of the top three most adapted tales in history, after A Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland, but my list of top 10 Robin Hood adaptations would see Kevin Costner taking third place behind John Cleese in Time Bandits and an animated fox, at which point the list would end because I haven’t seen any others, so instead I’m going to celebrate the greatest remakes that I’ve ever seen, regardless of whether I’ve watched the originals or not. Oh, and The Wizard of Oz didn’t make the list, because I’m fairly sure I’ve never seen it all the way through. The list also doesn’t include any English-language remakes of originally foreign works, because that would be another list entirely, and one I’ll save for another day – perhaps when Ringu is selected for movie of the week?

Ocean’s Eleven

Sneaking its way onto the list at number 500 of Empire’s top 500 films is the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, one of the few remakes on the list to surpass its original. This film relies on the complexity of the genius heist plot and the easy camaraderie and star wattage of its leads to create an enjoyable and cerebral popcorn flick. But as usual it’s the small moments of humour that meant the most to me, especially how the story and characters play with the real-life personas of the actors playing them. For example, at the beginning of the film Brad Pitt’s Rusty Ryan and George Clooney’s Danny Ocean are teaching ‘movie stars’ how to play poker. The so-called stars they are schooling include small screen heartthrobs Topher Grace (That 70s Show,) Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek) and Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), each playing themselves, and here dubbed as major movie stars, being photographed by the paparazzi whilst Pitt and Clooney, at the time two of the most famous faces in the world, are ignored by everyone. Another parallel is Pitt and Clooney’s teaching of Matt Damon’s rookie conman Linus Caldwell, in a sense showing Pitt and Clooney teaching Damon how to become a star as renowned as them, with Damon continuing his meteoric rise to fame with the Ocean’s Eleven, arguably reaching the same level as Pitt and Clooney. Finally, Pitt’s performance as a fake doctor parodies Clooney’s stint on ER, especially his flamboyant overacting.

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