6 Movie Remakes that Missed the Point

Movie remakes are a win/lose proposition. On one hand, you're starting with a movie audiences have already grown to love. On the other, if you fuck it up, it becomes a horrible embarrassment for everyone involved.

But nothing is worse than when the remake is made by someone who apparently had no clue what the original was even about. That's how you get misguided--and even downright insulting--remakes like...

#6. Rollerball

What the Original Was About:

The 1975 film takes place during 2018, in a dystopian future where a handful of corporate states form a world government. The most popular form of entertainment is the titular sport, which boils down to a violent spin-off of roller derbies, with the addition of motorcycles. In this future, rollerball serves as a substitute for all other sports as well as warfare and, in the words of the film's antagonist, serves to "show the futility of individual effort." In our words, it demonstrates "how fucking awesome sports are if you add motorcycles to the mix."

The story revolves around Jonathan E., a star player who becomes a little too famous and powerful for the corporation's tastes. After attempts to convince Jonathan to retire fail, the owners begin changing the rules of rollerball in an effort to get Jonathan killed. As a result, the sport quickly degenerates into senseless and brutal violence. Brutal motorcycle violence.

Death sports aside, the original Rollerball focused more on social commentary. Jonathan has to fight to maintain his identity and his free will, and he also strove to understand the relationship between corporations and modern society. The finale of the film shows how rollerball fans have been stunned by the brutality of the violence, but they cheer on Jonathan's achievements as an individual.

What the Remake Did Instead:

The 2002 remake decided to ditch all that boring social/political stuff and replaced the message of "brutal violence is bad" with "brutal violence kicks ass!" Changing the setting from dystopian future to present day, rollerball is just another sport, one that's mostly popular in the former Soviet Union. Jonathan is less interested in maintaining his free will than he is in driving fast cars and trying to bang Rebecca Romijn.

The new version focuses pretty much exclusively on the sport itself, with the story revolving around Jonathan's promoter trying to make the game more violent in order to boost ratings. That's essentially what the movie does as well, with the film being marketed as an action movie and the attraction largely being the increasingly violent matches. You know, the ones that the original designed to make us feel uncomfortable and barbaric.

How Did They Do?

The original wasn't a classic, but it received generally good reviews and has established a cult following. The remake was universally panned and made only $26 million dollars from a budget of $70 million. Damn, how could they go wrong with a cast that included Pink and LL Cool J?

#5. I Am Legend

What the Original Was About:

It started as a 1954 novel (I Am Legend) and was first made into a film in 1964, called The Last Man On Earth. It featured Vincent Price playing Dr. Robert Morgan, man of science and monster hunter extraordinaire. Living in a world where everyone has been infected by a disease that turns them into vampires (and not the sparkly Twilight variety, either), Morgan kills as many of the mutated as he can, while researching the plague and looking for a cure. You'd think he'd try to focus on one goal or the other, but hey, we're not doctors.


Pictured: Intensive scientific research.

There's a heavy emphasis on how Morgan tries to deal with the psychological issues that come with the complete loneliness and despair of his situation. Morgan eventually encounters another survivor by the name of Ruth, but he soon learns that she's part of a group of infected people who suffer some of the effects of the disease but are able to hold the worst at bay with a vaccine. They're working to rebuild society, but they're terrified of Morgan since he appears to them as a mysterious killing machine (as he's taken down some of their kind during his career in vampire slaughtering).

Morgan escapes with Ruth's help, but he's eventually hunted down. In the novel he peacefully accepts his death, realizing that he's the last of his kind and the infected survivors represent the next step for humanity. The book's title, I Am Legend, referred to Morgan realizing that he, in his mass killings, had ironically become the mythical, nightmarish creature to this new breed.

The movie gets the same message across, but Morgan, half-crazy from years of isolation, goes out after a violent chase, eventually dying as angrily as possible. While it sounds like a huge change, the movie is otherwise pretty faithful, especially when compared to future attempts...

What the Remake Did Instead:

The first remake came out in 1971 under the name The Omega Man. Starring Charlton Heston, as Colonel Robert Neville, the monsters in this film are less scary than they are silly, with the vampires blaming the disease on the evils of science. So they're Luddite vampires, refusing to use anything other than the most primitive technologies. How do you think a bunch of bow and arrow wielding bad guys performed against the spokesperson for the NRA?

The movie mostly involves Neville shooting shit up, eventually coming across a group of people who are semi-resistant to the disease. He gives them a serum of his blood so they can become fully immune and restore humanity. He then dies heroically, knowing that he helped save the world from a plague of Amish vampires.

The 2007 re-remake, while finally getting the title right, otherwise plays out exactly the same as the Heston version. Will Smith kills a bunch of vampires in order to help some kids escape with his cure, once again saving the world from those no good monsters. Well, at least they used technology this time.


"Lemme see you nod your head, like this!"

How Did They Do?

The Last Man on Earth hasn't aged very well, but it was well received at the time and still has some charm. The Omega Man was widely criticized, and I Am Legend received mixed reviews, with most complaints focusing on the weak ending which, as it turned out, was a last-minute change. The original "true to the novel" ending can be found on the DVD extras. If only the author of the novel had audience focus groups available to him, he could have fixed that whole "message" thing and saved Hollywood the trouble.

#4. Halloween

What the Original Was About:

The 1978 John Carpenter film is about a guy who kills teenagers. On Halloween. That alone should explain why it's one of the most well received horror films of all time.

But if you want to get into all that boring analysis stuff, what makes this film is work is how Michael Myers, the big bad villain, is portrayed. The teenagers he's stalking don't know anything about him; he's an unknown, unstoppable killer who apparently has no reason for what he's doing. And that's exactly what Halloween is about: evil that's mysterious and unworldly. Well, that and candy. Halloween II is mostly about candy.


"Do I see Reese's Pieces down there? Fuck yes!"

Despite Myers being all about the stabbing, Halloween isn't a very violent film, relatively speaking. Few people are killed, and none of the violence is graphic. That's what's great about the film; it's suspenseful rather than pointlessly violent. We're sure anyone choosing to remake it would realize that, right?

What the Remake Did Instead:

The 2007 version was directed by Rob Zombie who, not just content to make bad music, has established himself as a director of bad movies.

This remake decided to focus significantly more on Michael as a child, giving the character a backstory. While not a bad idea in theory, in practice the character development amounts to little more than "Uh oh, he likes to kill people!" which makes Myers about a complex of a villain as Snidely Whiplash, while simultaneously eliminating the mystery of the original Myers. Instead of being a big unknown, he's just some kid who's kind of a jerk.


"You know, you might be more popular if you stopped doing stuff like this. Just sayin'."

Of course, the body count is upped too. In fact, Michael kills more people as a child in the opening scenes of this version than he does in the entire original movie. When people are getting knocked off so rapidly, it eliminates any suspense over who survives and who doesn't to the point where it's impossible to care about any of the characters. The remake featured plenty of gratuitous nudity as well. OK, so it had a little merit.

How Did They Do?

The original made $55 million ($176 million in today's money) from a budget of less than half of a million. Unfortunately the remake was financially successful as well and, sure enough, they're making a sequel. So on one hand, they've turned the series into the kind of standard slasher films we see every year. On the other hand, the original Halloween's success is the reason we see so many of them. So, really, John Carpenter has no one to blame but himself.

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