There are two rules in successfully remaking a creative work, be it a song, a story, or a film:
- The remake must be at least as good as (and preferably better than) the original.
- The remake must in some way be distinct, and not a mere clone of the original.
If you look at recent remakes, you can see that where these two simple criteria were met, success followed, but when they weren’t, disaster struck.
Godzilla vs. Pacific Rim
The last two remakes of Godzilla, the 1998 take starring Matthew Broderick, and the more recent 2-14 film, both failed to achieve success, having IMDB ratings of 5.3 and 6.4 respectively. Both closely followed the original films, and failed to add much to them. On the other hand, Pacific Rim added a science fiction premise for the existence of Kaiju (giant monsters) and human driven Gundam (giant robots) to combat them. De Toro’s film, while not wildly successful, has an IMDB rating of 7.8 and a sequel in the works. Meanwhile, Godzilla will go through yet another reboot, and the new film, Godzilla: Monster Planet, has a science fiction premise like the one in Pacific Rim.
Robocop vs. Dredd
The Robocop reboot of 2014 added virtually nothing to the original from 1987. The original film had a rating of 7.5, whereas the reboot has earned a mere 6.3. On the other hand Dredd (2012), the remake of the Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dredd (1995), earned a rating of 7.1, far outdoing the original’s 5.5. It succeeded largely because it replaced the campy original with a gritty science fiction action film that was much truer to the original graphic novel.
King Solomon’s Mines vs. The Four Feathers
Both King Solomon’s Mines, whose 1950 remake is rated 6.9, and the Four Feathers, whose 1939 remake rates a 7.6, are classic adventure stories that have both been remade multiple times. Yet King Solomon’s mines remake in 1985, starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone, has a miserable 5.1 rating. The version from the 50’s is much better, and follows the H. Rider Haggard novel closely. The Four Feathers remake from 2002, starring Heath Ledger, is much different from the 1939 version, which took a comedic turn. The 2002 remake, though poorly rated on IMDB at on 6.5, follows the book much more closely, and updates the story to the epic status it deserves.