Movie remakes are all the rage these days and like pretty much every trend that Hollywood uses excessively, it’s led to some notable artistic triumphs and some pretty dismal failures. For instance: did we really need a Robocop remake? The answer is no; the original is perfect. Surprisingly, in the mad dash to remake seemingly every movie ever released, there are quite a few that have been curiously ignored. We’re as sick as anyone of Hollywood’s remake fever but admittedly, there are some films that would totally benefit from a redo. It’s probably only a matter of time before most (or even all) of the following movies receive the remake treatment, but we’d still like to give Hollywood a push in the right direction by highlighting which titles actually deserve to be given another shot.
17. Breakfast At Tiffany’s
The original adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is undeniably a cinematic classic, with Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black dress and tiara still considered a high watermark for women’s fashion to this day. Unfortunately, it’s also nearly 60 years old at this point, making it difficult to enjoy without noticing the many ways in which it’s dated. Most problematic is a yellow-faced Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi, a racist, unbearably annoying caricature whose presence tarnishes the film as a whole.
The other issue, at least for fans of Capote’s source material, is that Breakfast at Tiffany’s glosses over or omits altogether many of the novel’s darker material, such as Holly being a call girl or that the novella’s unnamed narrator is a gay man (and most likely a gay prostitute) — a far cry from the romantic interest played by George Peppard in the film. An updated adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s would be free to explore these formerly taboo aspects of Capote’s story and offer a more faithful adaptation in the process.
16. To Kill A Mockingbird
Based on Harper Lee’s novel of the same name, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of the twentieth century, anchored by Gregory Peck’s Academy Award-winning performance as noble lawyer Atticus Finch. Much like Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird tackled some serious issues for its time, drawing attention to systemic racial injustice in America. Released right before the Civil Rights Movement really started to heat up, the film’s lessons of tolerance and rejection of prejudice spoke to many seeking social change in the country at the time. Unfortunately, while considerable progress has been made in the more than five decades since the film’s release, racism is still very much alive and well in America today, so a remake of To Kill a Mockingbird would still have something important to say.
There’s also the matter of Lee’s posthumous release of To Kill a Mockingbird follow-up, Go Set a Watchman, which received heavy criticism for its depiction of Atticus Finch as a racist old man, tarnishing a character many held up as an incorruptible symbol of good. A remake of To Kill a Mockingbird could go a long way in reminding of Atticus’ basic goodness and humanity in Lee’s original text while also providing a modernized take on a story that continues to have cultural currency to this day.
15. The Outsiders
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton coming-of-age novel is a bonafide ’80s classic, and was a breakout role for many young actors including the likes of Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise, just to name a few. As good as Coppola’s film is though, it’s over three decades old now. Given its relatively timeless plot (working-class teens like fighting each other but become disenchanted with gang life after the violence becomes too real) and the fact that the book is still taught in middle school, it’s odd that we don’t have a more recent adaptation of The Outsiders. Cast a bunch of young up-and-coming actors, modernize certain aspects of the story a bit and there’s no reason a new take on The Outsiders couldn’t speak to a whole new generation of young people.
14. Avatar: The Last Airbender
M. Night Shyamalan has experienced something of a career revival in recent years thanks to films like The Visit and Split, but the filmmaker was right in the midst of his worst period professionally when he made 2009’s Avatar: The Last Airbender — an adaptation of the acclaimed Nickelodeon animated series of the same name. Though a commercial success, The Last Airbender was universally panned by critics and fans alike and is now regarded as one of the worst Hollywood adaptations of all time. Plans for a trilogy were quickly scrapped but Shyamalan has expressed interest in making a sequel. As much as we wouldn’t mind seeing the director get another kick at the can, it would probably be best for Paramount to wipe the slate clean and go with a new director, cast, and story that has no connection to the previous adaptation.
As a general rule, video game movies are universally terrible, but we’ll admit to having a soft spot for the 2005 Doom adaptation starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Karl Urban. We’ll also admit that it’s nowhere close to being a good movie. The main problem with Doom is that it wastes a perfect premise for a fun action-horror movie and instead resembles a poor man’s version of 1986’s Aliens. Space Marines battling demons on Mars is the kind of set-up that pretty much writes itself, but the one thing that the 2005 Doom was missing was the one man fighting against impossible odds scenario that helped make the original video game so compelling back in the ’90s.
Fortunately, Doom has experienced something of a revival in recent years thanks to the stellar reboot developed by id Software in 2016 and if a filmmaker were to take the lessons of that game and apply it to a film adaptation — namely, a renewed focus on brilliant action setpieces, creative enemy design, and lots of over-the-top violence and gore — there’s no reason a new Doom movie couldn’t be a fun action-horror romp in its own right.
12. From Hell
Simply put, Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell is a masterpiece and deserves an adaptation that does it justice. A sprawling historical fiction epic covering the murders of Jack the Ripper during the late Victorian era, Moore’s novel is transcendent in its depictions of royal conspiracies, the occult and of course, the heinous murders of the five Whitechapel prostitutes attributed to the unidentified serial killer. As such, the oversimplified, craven 2001 adaptation starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, and Ian Holm makes for a poor companion piece to Moore’s book.
Of course, From Hell isn’t the only dreadful adaptation of Moore’s work out there (2003’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is arguably even worse) but considering From Hell is Moore’s best work (yes, it’s better than Watchmen), it deserves another attempt. Truth be told, a novel as dense as From Hell would be much better suited to getting the miniseries treatment from somewhere like HBO than another theatrical release but no matter the format, this is one remake that definitely needs to happen.
11. The Last Starfighter
The Last Starfighter was born out of the sci-fi craze of the late ’70s and early ’80s spawned by the overwhelming success of Star Wars but its central premise could arguably be transplanted any era. Following a teen whose arcade shooter skills end up making him the perfect candidate for a real-life alien defense force, The Last Starfighter could easily be adapted for modern audiences by incorporating advancements in video games and CGI (for instance, Alex Rogan could be an ace pilot in a virtual reality game).
Steven Spielberg and Seth Rogen have both expressed interest in making a sequel over the years but unfortunately, there is at least one big hurdle to overcome when it comes to getting any new The Last Starfighter film off the ground, in that Universal and Warner Bros. reportedly each have a claim on remake and sequel rights. In addition to the legal hangups, any new film would have to contend with the fact that The Last Starfighter is a cult classic, so any new entry in the series would have some hoops to jump through in order to convince fans it’s the real deal. Still, if it can avoid the mistakes of something like Tron: Legacy but look half as good as that film did, there’s no reason a new take on The Last Starfighter couldn’t capture viewers’ imaginations all over again.
Look, we realize that the Transformers series is cinematic trash and has been steadily growing worse with each louder, dumber, and more expensive sequel. The thing is, Transformers remains a beloved property because of the strength of the original cartoons and toy lines. None of the four Transformers films released to date have been very good, but that has more to do with Michael Bay than an inherent lack of quality in the franchise itself. If Transformers was relaunched with a different director and writing team at the helm, there’s no reason a movie about giant transforming robots couldn’t be an entertaining blockbuster that doesn’t make you want to lobotomize yourself with its sheer stupidity. Heck, it’s pretty much what Marvel’s been doing for years now with their movies (nobody’s going to make the claim that a comic series featuring a talking raccoon is some kind of literary masterwork). Transformers could be a good movie; we just have to pry Michael Bay’s greedy hands off its metal corpse first.
The thought that anyone would actually greenlight a remake of one of the most expensive box office bombs of all time is admittedly a fool’s hope, but that doesn’t mean that Kevin Costner’s infamous sci-fi adventure film doesn’t deserve another chance. Waterworld has a number of flaws, but its central concept about a future Earth covered almost entirely by water has the makings of a good survival tale. If you got rid of the bloat and doubled down on telling a good post-apocalyptic story, there’s no reason a new Waterworld couldn’t be a hit. Kevin Costner would have to go though; it was bad enough seeing him flounder about in the water, webbed feet and all, in the original; we could only imagine how bad things could be if he got behind the lens. In the right hands though, Waterworld could be a winner; after all, Mad Max on water skis is a concept that shouldn’t be left to go to waste.
8. Reign of Fire
Reign of Fire had all the ingredients of a great action movie: a great cast featuring a pre-Batman Christian Bale and an almost unrecognizable Matthew McConaughey and dragons. Although the movie is actually pretty good (and definitely underrated), it didn’t quite live up to its potential, even with its well-designed dragons and solid performances from Bale and McConaughey. That being said, the dragon encounters were too few and far between and the whole thing felt too small and intimate for a film about world-conquering dragons. Dragon destruction and a post-apocalyptic world could lead to cinematic glory in the right hands, so it would be a disservice to mankind (no hyperbole) not to take another crack at Reign of Fire. Just give us more dragons this time!
Timecop is an underrated 90s actioner starring Jean Claude Van Damme in one of his best roles. While it’s remembered now more for its display of Van Damme’s 90s era cheesiness (and one heck of a bad mullet), Timecop has a winning concept that could benefit from a modern resurrection. While it’s unlikely that Van Damme would return to the role of Walker the Timecop, there are all sorts of male actors that could do some temporal policing (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for instance; he’s already had time travel film experience). Heck, if they could justify making a Robocop remake when there was no need for one, a Timecop redo is practically a no-brainer. They just have to make sure they keep the original’s bizarre “same matter can’t occupy the same physical space” rule, but this time, they need to go all out with it; watching Ron Silver’s villain McComb morph into a grotesque skin blob never gets old. Fortunately, a Timecop remake is already in development at Universal, but there’s still no word on when we can expect it to see the light of day.
6. Night of the Living Dead
Yes, George A. Romero’s horror masterpiece has been given the remake treatment before, but the 1990 version is widely considered to be an affront to Romero’s original vision. That being said, Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of another Romero film, Dawn of the Dead, proved that, in the right hands, horror remakes could stand on their own while paying homage to the film that inspired them. Using Snyder’s work as an example, it would be great to see another talented director take a stab at the zombie film that started it all. As much as The Night of the Living Dead remains an uncontested classic, it has begun to show its age in certain areas. Although we’re growing a bit tired of the zombie craze that’s seemingly been going on for over a decade now, a modern reboot with new visual flair that keeps the tried and true isolated farmhouse setting of the original would definitely be a hit.
5. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids franchise was a great kids’ series during the 80s and 90s, focused on the hijinks that ensues when a scientist father’s homemade shrink ray accidentally shrinks his kids and their friends. As with most movie franchises, the 1989 original remains the best one and that’s the film that should be revisited for a modern remake. The story itself remains appealing to this day and thanks to the incredible leap in special effects technology in the years since the first film was released, there are almost limitless possibilities for new shrunken-down adventures. Just imagine a group of shrunken people having to contend with a whole army of ants in their own backyard this time out, as opposed to the one (admittedly cute) six-legged insect from the original (RIP Antie). Although there have been rumors of a remake being in the works for about half a decade now, we’re ready to see this long-dormant franchise return to the big screen.
Back in the 90s, writer and artist Todd McFarlane was essentially the king of comics, thanks in large part to his extremely popular Spawn series. Naturally, the character got the cinematic treatment with 1997’s Spawn, starring Michael Jai White and Martin Sheen. Spawn was pretty much the definition of an uneven film; some parts, such as whenever Spawn was in combat, absolutely sizzled, while others, such as most of the dialogue, were largely cringe-worthy (and have only gotten worse with age). While Spawn’s popularity has waned considerably in the intervening years, the modern comic book movie boom makes it a bit strange that we haven’t seen anything new from the character. Spawn is one of the most visually-interesting characters in all of comics, so there’s no doubt that he would benefit significantly from some visual effects upgrades. Plus, the underlying origin story about a man rebelling against Hell remains compelling to this day, although we would be completely fine with John Leguizamo’s Clown not making the cut the next time out. McFarlane is apparently writing a script for a new movie, so hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer to see how Spawn fares with a 21st century makeover.
3. The Star Wars Prequels
It’s a truth universally known (except by unreasonable Star Wars apologists) that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is cinematic trash. But underneath the wooden acting and annoying antics of Jar Jar Binks lie the bones of a much better series of films. The story of how Anakin Skywalker went from a promising young Jedi to the most feared villain in the galaxy should have been the stuff of legend, and yet that riveting story was lost amid all the CGI bloat and excess. The truth is that Anakin/Darth Vader’s story deserves to be redone properly and honestly, a retooled trilogy that doubles down on the characters and drama while staying true to the Star Wars aesthetic would not only be a great reward for fans who had to suffer through the prequels, it would effectively remove those films from the series canon, which would be a victory in itself. While it’s unlikely that the franchise’s new stewards at Disney would ever actually go through with this idea, their commitment to releasing near-yearly Star Wars movies over the coming decades makes the prospect of a prequel trilogy remake sound more like a question of when, not if.
Catwoman, the 2004 travesty starring Halle Berry in the title role, is one of the worst superhero movies ever made. It’s difficult to sweep something like that under the rug, but that’s absolutely something that the braintrust at DC Comics and Warner Bros. needs to do, as Catwoman is too great a character to go to waste because of one bad outing. While Selina Kyle has had tremendous luck when it comes to being paired with Batman — Julie Newmar , Michelle Pfeiffer, and Anne Hathaway have all turned in signature performances over the years — it feels like no one is willing to give the cat burglar antihero another solo outing after that disastrous first film. As anyone who reads the Catwoman comics — particularly Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s run — can attest, this is one heroine who is rife with great content to mine for a feature film. If Green Lantern can be given another chance at a solo outing, why can’t Catwoman?
1. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Another comic book adaptation, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a critically-acclaimed series from legendary comics writer Alan Moore. Unfortunately, despite the involvement of Sean Connery, the 2003 film adaptation was almost universally panned (especially by Moore himself). It’s a shame that the series was tainted with such a shoddy movie because the comics themselves, about a group of Victorian literary figures who band together to stop a threat to the British Empire, is smart and sophisticated, two things that weren’t translated to the big screen the first time around. With the popularity of other Victorian-themed films and TV shows as of late, such as Crimson Peak and Penny Dreadful, it would be great to see someone take another crack at The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and actually get it right this time (even if Moore would still hate it regardless). Luckily, Fox has actually ordered a pilot for a new series based on the comic, so we can only hope now that it turns out better than the film.