The Ladykillers (2004)
The Original: One of the best-loved of all the Ealing Comedies, director Alexander Mackendrick strikes the perfect balance between the humourous and the macabre with this tale of a bunch of crooks colliding with a surprisingly resilient old dear. Alec Guinness leads a fab cast with a wonderfully hammy turn as panto-villain-in-chief Professor Marcus.
The Remake: A rare misstep from the Coen brothers, this Mississippi-set remake makes the significant error of casting Irma P. Hall as the lady in question, a robust, no-nonsense woman who you feel could have Tom Hanks for breakfast. There are a couple of laughs to be had along the way, but gone is the menacing undertone of the original. One to file next to Intolerable Cruelty in the “dud” column.
Lost In Translation: Whilst Alec Guinness had Peter Sellers backing him up, Tom Hanks has got Marlon Wayans. You could forgive him for feeling short-changed…
Dinner For Schmucks (2010)
The Original: Francis Verber’s well-loved farce Le Diner De Cons , in which a group of snide business types host a regular dinner in which a prize is awarded to whoever brings the most idiotic guest. Acid-tongued bitchiness takes centre stage in this wonderfully mean-spirited comedy.
The Remake: On paper, teaming Anchorman alumni Paul Rudd and Steve Carell with Meet The Parents helmer Jay Roach sounds like a promising set-up. Sadly however, the script is woefully broad, ditching all the verbal dexterity of the original in favour of ludicrously overblown buffoonery.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the first film focuses on the build-up to the titular dinner, the remake makes it the main event, allowing the oafish guests free reign. Unfortunately, none are funny enough to make this work, whilst the decision to make Paul Rudd’s character an essentially nice guy is something of a cop-out.
The Italian Job (2003)
The Original: One of many Michael Caine films to receive a Hollywood working-over, the original Italian Job was a tongue-in-cheek crime caper full of cockney jollity and intrepid Mini Coopers. Oh, and you’ll have the theme tune going round your head all day now we’ve brought it up…
The Remake: Whilst the Mark Wahlberg-starring remake is a perfectly serviceable action flick, it doesn’t have a drop of the heart or humour of the original film. We’d like a little more than simply blowing the bloody doors off.
Lost In Translation: Ed Norton’s snivelling villain is a thoroughly unnecessary addition to proceedings. The authorities are perfectly adequate as the bad guys!
Clash Of The Titans (2010)
The Original: Whilst this 1981 ham-fest might not have been a towering dramatic achievement, it scores big points for Ray Harryhausen’s genius model-work, which invests proceedings with a generous helping of shonky charm.
The Remake: Louis Leterrier directs this effects-heavy clunker in which Sam Worthington’s under-written Perseus attempts to bore the audience to death with his utterly tedious heroics. Even Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson can’t drag this one out of the doldrums.
Lost In Translation: Harryhausen’s effects are brimming with the sort of personality that just isn’t attainable with today’s CGI pyrotechnics.
The Time Machine (2002)
The Original: This Oscar-winning adaptation of the novel by H.G. Wells casts Rod Taylor as Wells himself in this fun science-fiction fantasy. Notable for a remarkable sequence in which time-lapse photography is used to illustrate the effect of a swiftly changing world.
The Remake: Poor old Guy Pearce finds himself cast opposite z-list pop-star Samantha Mumba in this misguided effort from director Simon Wells. As the author’s great grandson you might have expected him to stay a little closer to the source material, but alas, no.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the original was a sci-fi movie through and through, this one is all too willing to conform to the crash-bang-wallop customs of the modern-day action flick.
The Assassin (1993)
The Original: Luc Besson’s ultra-cool thriller Nikita , in which violent street kid Anne Parillaud is recruited by the French government to work in their intelligence department. Brutal and sexy, Nikita is the definitive femme fatale.
The Remake: John Badham’s remake eschews the icy cool of the original in favour of campy silliness, with Bridget Fonda falling considerably short of Parillaud’s violent masterclass. Okay if you’re looking for a mindless action romp, but fans of the original will be disappointed.
Lost In Translation: Fonda is way too perky to pull this off and her transformation from scowling street-urchin to tanned beach bunny is just plain daft.
House Of Wax (2005)
The Original: A terrifying ‘50s horror movie in which Vincent Price stars as an embittered sculptor who opens a chamber of horrors waxwork museum in which the dummies are people he’s murdered. Shot in 3D, it’s a technical triumph, and a damned scary one at that.
The Remake: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray and notoriously, Paris Hilton all run around screaming in this by the numbers retread that sheds all of the menace of the original in favour of lashings of OTT violence. Dull, dull, dull.
Lost In Translation: The original film saw the viewer firmly behind Price’s luckless victims. However, it’s impossible not to cheer when Hilton buys it in the update.
Guess Who (2005)
The Original: A fairly limited comic set-up (a black man meeting his white girlfriend’s parents…how daring!) is played for maximum laughs by a stellar cast that includes Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, in 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Not quite as taboo-busting as legend would have it, but pretty funny all the same.
The Remake: The original film gets a right-on, noughties twist as this time around it’s a white man meeting his black girlfriend’s parents! Sadly, the white man in question is Ashton Kutcher, and whilst Bernie Mac does a decent enough job as his nemesis, the whole thing feels a bit tired. Which, given that this came out the year after Meet The Fockers , is hardly surprising.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the original had audiences chuckling away from start to finish, the gags dry up almost completely as this one limps over the finish line.
The Haunting (1999)
The Original: A classic haunted house flick in which a bunch of sceptics are invited to spend the night in Hill House in order for a scientist to prove the existence of ghosts. Hackneyed set-up it may be, but Robert Wise’s film isn’t half effective in spooking the audience!
The Remake: Jan De Bont abandons any attempt to conjure an atmosphere of fear and instead concentrates on a number of eye-catching set-pieces, which whilst visually impressive, uniformly fail to get the blood pumping. When even Owen Wilson fails to raise a smile, you know you’re in trouble.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the lesbian subplot of the original served to heighten the psychological tension, Catherine Zeta Jones’ character announces she’s bisexual right from the off. That’s that plot strand successfully negated then…
Gone In 60 Seconds (2000)
The Original: H.B. Halicki stars, writes and directs this bruising, hard-boiled crime flick in which plot is treated purely as the glue that binds together a series of heart-pounding car chases. It’s not exactly a gold-plated classic, but the chase scenes are quite rightly feted as genre classics.
The Remake: Dominic Sena presides over this half-hearted action flick, as Nic Cage spits out shocking one-liners, chews up the scenery and spends an inordinate amount of time speaking to his car. Glossy, vapid tosh.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the car chases of the original were gritty, crunching affairs, Sena’s offerings are very much of the quick-cut, music video variety. Dull, in other words.
When A Stranger Calls (2006)
The Original: Based upon the urban legend of the babysitter and the man upstairs, this tightly wound slasher flick sees a helpless child-minder terrorised by a nuisance caller…who’s calling from within the house. Things go a bit off the rails after this initial set-up is resolved, but nonetheless, it was a hugely influential addition to the stalk-and-slash genre.
The Remake: Cellphones are chucked into the mix in Simon West’s remake, but this minor innovation is nowhere near enough to compensate for the fact that nothing bloody happens! One to test the audience’s patience rather than their nerves.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the babysitter-nutcase tête-à-tête only comprises the original film’s first act, here it is dragged out over 87 agonising minutes. Lazy.
The Original: Ishiro Honda’s classic monster movie wasn’t half as daft as you might think, with the admittedly iffy-looking lizard doubling for widespread Japanese paranoia in the wake of Hiroshima. Look past the dodgy effects and you’ll find a panic-soaked monster movie of the first order.
The Remake: Roland Emmerich churns out one of his identikit disaster movies, with Independence Day ’s alien aggressors subbed out for a giant dinosaur. Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno wrestle manfully with a shockingly leaden script, but their efforts are sadly in vain.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the original played on a sense of hysteria to good effect, the remake is unforgivably ho-hum, with genuine fear replaced by cod-heroics and naff one-liners.
The Omen (2006)
The Original: Richard Donner’s pant-wettingly scary tale of a luckless couple who find themselves saddled with the spawn of the devil. Scare-stories concerning the cursed nature of the shoot and a handy dollop of controversy courtesy of the Catholic church ensured The Omen its spot in the horror hall of fame.
The Remake: The only thing worth mentioning about this vapid retread is that it was released on 06.06.06. Presumably, this was one of the primary reasons it got the green light in the first place. Utterly pointless.
Lost In Translation: John Moore’s glossy update lacks any of the scuzzy menace of the original. It’s too damn shiny for its own good.
The Invasion (2007)
The Original: Don Siegel’s 1956 thriller stars Kevin McCarthy as a small-town doctor who gradually discovers that the local population are being replaced by alien doppelgangers. It’s an ingenious premise that spawned two fairly worthy remakes in 1978 and 1993. However, a fourth outing was clearly a bridge too far…
The Remake: Downfall helmer Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Invasion boasts a stellar leading pair in the form of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, but both look as though they’d rather be anywhere else. Indeed, their performances are every bit as blank as the alien replicants they find themselves facing off against…
Lost In Translation: Hirschbiegel unwisely attempts to crowbar in some philosophical musings, which only serve to confuse matters. The original set-up was brilliantly simple. Why tinker with it?
The Women (2008)
The Original: George Cukor’s 1939 film is one of the earliest incarnations of the chick flick, with Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford leading some of MGM’s top stars in a top-notch all-female ensemble. The plot sees Shearer’s cheerful housewife squaring-off against Crawford’s predatory perfume-vendor, when she gets wind that her off-screen husband has been playing away…good, frothy fun.
The Remake: This god-awful remake comes off more like a feature-length episode of Sex & The City , and we already know how trying that can be. The sparky banter of the original is replaced by bawdy innuendo (“I can suck nails out of a board” brags Meg Ryan), whilst the painfully slight plot offers little in the way of respite.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the original felt fresh and daring, this warmed-up retread is derivative in the worst way.
Black Christmas (2006)
The Original: One of the earliest entries into the slasher genre, this grisly seasonal tale is set in a sorority house, where the hapless residents are being stalked by a sinister prowler. Ho-ho-ho.
The Remake: Arriving some thirty years after the original, this piss-poor remake races along at a rollicking pace but forgets to supply any scares along the way. Instead, what we’re left with is a production line of not-so-grisly deaths, all of which are greeted with a shrug of indifference by the audience.
Lost In Translation: By speeding up the pace of the (admittedly slow) original, director Glen Morgan simultaneously chucks all the first film’s suspense at the same time.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
The Original: Penelope Cruz stars in Alejandro Amenabar’s unsettling mystery Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), in which a flash businessmen begins to lose his mind after suffering horrific injuries in a car crash. Haunting and beautiful, its well worth seeking out.
The Remake: Tom Cruise appears alongside original star Penelope Cruz (very much in it for the money) in a garbled mish-mash of an adaptation. It’s as if Cameron Crowe had dreamt the original and only managed to remember half of it.
Lost In Translation: So smug is Cruise in the film’s early going, it’s virtually impossible to sympathise with him as things start to go wrong.
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (2005)
The Original: I t’s called Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory for a reason as Gene Wilder steals the show with his charming, witty take on the oddball confectioner. Throw in some toe-tapping songs and a dash of psychadelica and you’ve got a bona fide children’s classic.
The Remake: Tim Burton’s reworking lives and dies by Johnny Depp’s performance as Wonka, and sadly, it’s just too weird for its own good. Coming off like some kind of nightmarish cross between Michael Jackson and The Child Catcher, Depp’s Wonka trades on an irritating combo of OTT tics and squeaky-voiced gibberish.
Lost In Translation: Wonka should definitely be weird, and more than a little sinister, but he’s also meant to be charming as well. It’s that last criteria that’s sadly lacking from Depp’s incarnation.
The Hitcher (2007)
The Original: C. Thomas Howell has the bejesus scared out of him by the utterly terrifying Rutger Hauer, a man you wouldn’t let into your car under any circumstances whatsoever. Taught and tense throughout, with a deliciously grisly denoument.
The Remake: Camp, overblown, trashy…a horror remake can be all of these and still raise a smile, but one thing it cannot be is bland. Sadly, that’s just the word for Dave Myers’ cynical retread, with hardly a drop of tension wrung from what should be an open-goal of a premise.
Lost In Translation: Bluff Yorkshireman Sean Bean may be many things, but a convincing psychopath he is not.
The Fog (2005)
The Original: John Carpenter creates another pulse-quickening fright-fest with this tale of a crew of shipwrecked spooks come to wreak havoc on a sleepy seaside town. Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh are amongst the villagers being stalked in this creepy, wrong-footing chiller.
The Remake: Cheap scares abound in this jump-heavy remake from director Rupert Wainwright. Tom Welling and Maggie Grace make for a pair of suitably photogenic leads, but the scares are half-baked and the ghostly crew look frankly risible.
Lost In Translation: The original manipulated the audience masterfully by effectively cloaking its antagonists in the titular fog. Somehow the remake manages to fumble this handy device, with a clutch of all-too-visible CGI ghouls that wouldn’t look out of place looming out of a fairground ride.
The Island Of Doctor Moreau (1996)
The Original: Entitled Island Of Lost Souls , Erle C Kenton’s 1933 film is the first of three celluloid adaptations of HG Wells’ novel. Starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi, it tells the tale of a man washed up on an island ruled by a mad scientist, whose inter-special experiments have created some rather unusual natives…
The Remake: Marlon Brando stars as the villainous Dr. Moreau in this atrociously camp version in which the poorly-realised beastmen are the most convincing performers.
Lost In Translation: Whilst Laughton’s Moreau was a truly menacing presence, Brando’s deranged performance is frankly laughable. A piano duet with a capering midget is not what we’d expect from the man who gave us Vito Corleone.
The Original: Norman Jewison’s dystopian sports movie is a testosterone-soaked thrill-fest of the big and dumb variety. The satirical overtones are somewhat leaden-footed but James Caan makes for an engaging lead, and the visceral action sequences can’t be faulted for energy.
The Remake: Personality vacuum Chris Klein steps into James Caan’s shoes in this hackneyed rehash from John McTiernan. With a garbled plot and a half-cocked script weighing it down, there’s still a chance the action scenes could save this from total failure. Sadly, a sanitised version of the supposedly brutal sport means even these miss the mark.
Lost In Translation: The original might not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer, but some of the dialogue on show in the remake simply beggars belief. At one point a commentator describes rollerball as, “a no-holds-barred cock fight.” Eh?
City Of Angels (1998)
The Original: Wim Wenders’ romantic masterpiece Wings Of Desire , in which an angel tires of his immortal detachment and assumes human form in order to pursue the human emotion of love. Poetic, dream-like and nigh-on untouchable. Ripe for a remake then!
The Remake: A cloyingly sentimental yarn starring serial remake offenders Nic Cage and Meg Ryan. Ponderous, self-important and unforgivably dumbed-down…seek out the original and give this one a wide berth.
Lost In Translation: Slushy, multiplex-friendly mush, City Of Angels is a gaudily decorated fairy-cake next to Wenders’ luxuriant gateaux.
Get Carter (2000)
The Original: One of the greatest crime flicks in British cinema history, Get Carter is stuffed to the brim with iconic scenes, from Michael Caine’s naked, shotgun-toting greeting to a house-caller, to the grim finale on the windswept Tyneside shoreline. As gritty as it gets, and all the better for it.
The Remake: Oh dear. All the original’s edgy menace is swept away in this laughably clean-cut vehicle for leading man Sly Stallone. As a stand-alone crime flick it’s not completely awful, so why not release it with a different title and have it judged on its own merits? As a successor to Get Carter , it never stood a chance.
Lost In Translation: Stallone is bad enough, but it’s the absence of dread that really lets this one down. There was a sense with the original that Carter’s violent quest was never going to end well…with the remake, it’s hard to care either way.
Swept Away (2002)
The Original: An understated but subversive offering from director Lina Wertmuller in which a stuck-up Italian socialite is marooned on an island with a fiercely socialist sailor. As you might imagine, sparks fly from the off…
The Remake: Guy Richie takes a break from his staple diet of knockabout cockney capers in order to direct a starring vehicle for his then wife Madonna. The result was so horribly ill-judged, it very nearly derailed his career for good.
Lost In Translation: Whilst the relationship between the original pair was spiky and disarming, Madonna fails to convince as a human being, let alone one that somebody might conceivably fall in love with.
The Pink Panther (2006)
The Original: Peter Sellers stars in one of his most iconic roles as the bumbling but loveable Inspector Clouseau. Classic Christmas Day fare, when watching a man in a suit of armour chase a man in a gorilla costume is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Remake: A criminally unfunny bastardisation in which the main joke appears to be that Steve Martin is speaking in a funny French accent. Apparently the star was keen to avoid, “just doing a rehash of a genius,” but he needn’t have worried. The two performances are totally unrecognisable…
Lost In Translation: Whereas Sellers’ Clouseau was essentially loveable, Martin’s clowning becomes wearing at around the five minute mark.
The Original: Twinkly-eyed Michael Caine plays cheeky chappie Alfie, a loveable rogue with an incorrigible eye for the ladies. This ‘60s morality tale might not have aged terribly well, but Caine’s performance is still worth a look.
The Remake: Jude Law takes over from Caine in Charles Shyer’s update, turning Alfie from cheeky cad to loathsome slimeball. Frequent asides to the camera do little to increase his likeability.
Lost In Translation: Where Caine was sparky and witty, Law is oily and smug. In fact you’d have to go a long way to find a more unpleasant romantic lead. The fact that his character is a love rat who spends much of the movie dicking Sienna Miller about probably doesn’t help…
Planet Of The Apes (2001)
The Original: Chuck Heston gripes and growls his way through this science-fiction romp. With plenty of action, a well-considered political subtext and a genuinely surprising ending, it’s a classic addition to the genre.
The Remake: Tim Burton “reimagines” the simian uprising by stripping away the socio-political elements and focussing on making the apes look impressive. Which, to be fair, they do. Sadly however, the humans let the side down, with Estella Warren redefining the term “vacant”, and Mark Wahlberg looking pissed off with himself for ever signing on!
Lost In Translation: The original twist ending was a clever pull-back and reveal. Burton’s twist makes as much sense as something you might hear a tramp shouting on the bus.
The Original: Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher-movie masterpiece is a consummate exercise in tension. Whilst the number of actual deaths is relatively slight, the sense of unease that clouds every scene at the Bates Motel is almost unbearable!
The Remake: A strong contender for the least welcome remake of all time, Gus Van Sant’s thoroughly pointless retread serves as a virtual shot-for-shot recreation of Hitchcock’s original. Which really begs the question, why bother?
Lost In Translation: In the original we had Anthony Perkins, all nervous tics and twitchy animosity. In the remake we have Vince Vaughn. Enough said.
The Wicker Man (2006)
The Original: A nerve-shredding exercise in rural terror, Edward Woodward plays the luckless policeman charged with poking around a remote Scottish Island, whilst Christopher Lee leads the thoroughly unwelcoming local community. A gruelling experience from the off, it possesses one of the most harrowing (and famous) conclusions in horror movie history.
The Remake: Neil LaBute foolishly allows Nic Cage off the leash in this barking remake in which the insular, island community of the original has been replaced by a cult of barmy, bee-obsessed harpies. Not the bees, eh Nic?
Lost In Translation: Whilst LaBute is clearly aiming for a creepy, unsettling tone, what he ends up with is something closer to outright comedy, as Cage (dressed as a giant bear at one point) sets about gleefully punching-out his female oppressors. Bizarre.