20 Films Improved By Mike Leigh
The Original: Michael Bay's juggernaut of a movie about vehicles with the amazing power to turn into robots that look exactly like other robots.
The Leigh-make: Down-at-heel robot electrician Optimus Prime (voiced by Timothy Spall) discovers the "All Spark," a powerful device that enables him to compete with business rival Megatron (Eddie Marsan).
Key Scene: Optimus sets the All Spark to work, giving himself enough time to sit down for a nice cuppa.
Van Helsing (2004)
The Original: Stephen Sommers' overblown attempt to tag-team the classic Universal monsters by throwing them simultaneously at Hugh Jackman's eponymous vampire hunter in a flurry of bad CGI.
The Leigh-make: Van driver Abraham Helsing (Jim Broadbent) is the town eccentric, trying to drive chavs off the estate to win the love of loca gypsy (Alison Steadman).
Key Scene: Helsing is brought before a magistrate for hitting a bunch of trick-or-treaters with a broomstick.
Aliens Vs Predator (2004)
The Original: Paul Thomas Anderson's "two birds with one stone" slaying of classic sci-fi franchises. Whoever wins, cinemagoers lose.
The Leigh-make: A camping trip for Candice-Marie (Alison Steadman) and Keith (Roger Sloman) goes awry when the battling extra-terrestrials land in Dorset. Nuts.
Key Scene: Pedantic Country Code follower Keith wades in to an Alien/Predator scrap to reprimand the duo for making too much noise.
Die Another Day (2002)
The Original: Franchise-wounding Bondage, as Pierce Brosnan's 007 battles with iceberg surfing, invisible cars, and Madonna as a fencing instructor.
The Leigh-make: Newly released terrorist hostage James (David Thewlis) becomes convinced he's a secret agent. Now his family must keep his mental illness under wraps.
Key Scene: James "drives" around town in his invisible car. In reality, he's shuffling along the road on his bottom in perpetual danger of being run over.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
The Original: Ed Wood's cult classic about aliens invading a town populated entirely by bad actors.
The Leigh-make: When the dead begin to rise from their graves, chiropodist Terry (Phil Davis) faces an outbreak of patients putting their backs out trying to carry them back to the cemetry.
Key Scene: Terry sees a flying saucer fly past his window, only to discover that it's an actual saucer flung over the garden wall by arguing neighbours.
The Original: James Cameron's Oscar-hogging flood-fest about an ill-fated romance aboard an ill-fated boat.
The Leigh-make: Boating lake employee Jack (Daniel Mays) falls in love with a rich customer (Sally Hawkins), only for their first date to go awry when their pedalo springs a leak.
Key Scene: Jack takes Rose to the front of the boat, 'cause it's the best vantage point to feed the ducks.
Street Dance 3D (2010)
The Original: Flavour of the month Cowell-cash-in in which ballet dancers are taught to bust propah moves by Diversity and George Sampson.
The Leigh-make: Lesley Manville's boozed-up ballroom dancer gets a shot at redemption when she transforms a posse of street dancers into foxtrot specialists.
Key Scene: The kids' moment of epiphany, when they switch channels from Britain's Got Talent to watch Strictly Come Dancing instead.
The Avengers (1998)
The Original: Jeremiah Chechik's point-missing Hollywoodisation of the whimsical British spy classic, led by a baffled, miscast Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.
The Leigh-make: Depressed banker John Steed (Jim Broadbent) pretends to be a secret agent to impress posh totty Emma Peel (Jane Horrocks).
Key Scene: At the local fete, a deluded Steed attacks a procession of performers dressed as teddy bears with an umbrella, reducing onlooking children to tears.
Suburban Commando (1991)
The Original: Hulk Hogan-starring family actioner about instellar warrior Shep Ramsey getting trapped in suburbia with Christopher Lloyd's white-collar square.
The Leigh-make: Hogan keeps his role, but this time he's stuck in the home of Beverly Moss (Alison Steadman), which means he's got to endure one of her awful dinner parties.
Key Scene: A pissed Beverly insists that Shep slow-dance to a Demis Roussos song.
Dungeons and Dragons (2000)
The Original: Jeremy Irons puts his kids through college as the bad guy in the lame big-screen makeover of the classic role-playing game.
The Leigh-make: Back to basics. This version's about the original game, as regional champ Eddie Marsan meets his match in hot-shot newcomer Sally Hawkins. But can he overcome his shyness to deal with a woman role-player?
Key Scene: Against his mates' advice, Marsan comes to the first date dressed as a dwarf. Fortunately, Hawkins has come as an elf. What larks.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The Original: Mel Gibson's flay-tastic recreation of Jesus' last hours.
The Leigh-make: When the local council turns up to evict Jesus (David Thewlis), he nails himself to his house to stop the bulldozers coming in.
Key Scene: Mary Magdalene (Imelda Staunton) climbs up on a ladder to offer Jesus a sip from her Thermos.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
The Original: Louis Leterrier's ill-advised remake of the Ray Harryhausen gods 'n monsters classic.
The Leigh-make: Days ahead of the flower show, a couple of unscrupulous growers (Broadbent, Steadman) send young gardener Perseus (Daniel Mays) to steal the rhodedendron bush of deadly rival Medusa (Imelda Staunton).
Key Scene: Medusa attacks Perseus with a garden hose.
Howard the Duck (1986)
The Original: George Lucas-produced failure to turn a horny alien duck into the next big kids' franchise.
The Leigh-make: Eccentric British comedy about a clumsy Mallard who ignites an affair between a widow (Brenda Blethyn) and a park ranger (Timothy Spall).
Key Scene: In a hilarious misunderstanding, Spall ends up in bed with the duck.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Original: The Wachowski Brothers' muddled sequel to the bullet-time masterpiece: 50% overblown action, 50% verbose cod-philosophy.
The Leigh-make: In this early 90s period piece, lonely I.T. geek Thomas (David Thewlis) discovers a world beyond his imagination when he fixes the computer of pill-popping political activist Trinny (Jane Horrocks).
Key Scene: Thomas' mum (Alison Steadman) lets loose at an illegal rave in the Home Counties.
I Know Who Killed Me (2007)
The Original: Lindsey Lohan's infamous attempt at more adult material, in which she plays stigmatic twins terrorised by a serial killer.
The Leigh-make: Sally Hawkins is a happy-go-lucky teacher whose life unravels when her long-lost twin sister (also Hawkins) turns out to be a misanthropic bitch.
Key Scene: Locked together in the school overnight, nice Hawkins has to listen to nasty Hawkins' ugly conspiracy theories, while a creepy janitor (Timothy Spall) stalks them.
The Original: Muy thai talented Jean Claude Van Damme kicks, boxes and writes the script. In retrospect, maybe the last of those was a bad idea.
The Leigh-make: Skinhead Gary Oldman is the local kickboxing champ who has to fight to help his poor family stay afloat.
Key Scene: After getting in yet another scrap, Oldman is giving a dressing down by his nan (Liz Smith).
Independence Day (1996)
The Original: Roland Emmerich's flag-waving vision of America defeating aliens on the 4th of July.
The Leigh-make: Timothy Spall's new American diner comes under threat from the local nimbies, who want him to make British food.
Key Scene: Spall sees the error of his ways and launches the rebranded restaurant - complete with fireworks - on Bonfire Night.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
The Original: Uwe Boll's video game horror about Christian Slater's supernatural detective discovering things that go bump in the cinema when the audience walks out.
The Leigh-make: Eddie Marsan plays Edward Carnby, who discovers that an old folks' home is haunted by the ghosts of the dear departed (Brenda Blethyn, Alison Steadman and Ruth Sheen).
Key Scene: The staff think Edward's gone loco when he organises afternoon tea for the ghosts.
The Original: Jan De Bont spends all of his cash on the meteorological effects. There's none left for a script.
The Leigh-make: A family camping trip turns into a disaster when they spend the night playing board games. Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Lesley Manville and David Thewlis star.
Key Scene: Old secrets resurface when a "right hand red" brings Thewlis into an uncomfortable position.
Epic Movie (2007)
The Original: Vintage Friedberg/Seltzer, this is the one spoofing any film that vaguely resembles an epic and/or was popular that year.
The Leigh-make: Leigh (playing himself) stars as an independent British director hired to make a Hollywood spoof, who causes alarm with studio executives when he starts secret rehearsals having not seen the films he's supposed to be parodying.
Key Scene: The execs watch the big Narnia set-piece, now transformed into a melancholy scene where Jane Horrocks finds a box of secrets and lies inside the wardrobe.