So the remake of Total Recall came out a couple weeks ago and, as is so often the case with these things, was not very well received by professional movie receptors. One common complaint the film received was that it didn't improve upon the original film, which actually holds up fairly well today, outside of some slightly ropey-looking special effects.
Wig technology has advanced incredibly far since 1990.
This is actually a problem that all remakes face: their inevitable comparison with the presumably widely loved original. The latest Spider-Man film, Double-New Spider-Man: The Rebirth: Year One, for example, wasn't widely enjoyed, no doubt in part because it doesn't compare to the Tobey Maguire series of New Spider-Man Begins films. And yes, we all loved the new round of Batman films, but how much of that was because of the comparison to the last, Chris O'Donnell-heavy batch?
It would seem then that instead of remaking good films that everyone enjoyed, we should be remaking movies that weren't very good. Better yet, we can look for movies that should have been good, but for some reason weren't, whether it was because of casting, or script problems, or Joel Schumacher. These are movies with great, golden premises that either weren't explored completely or were screwed up somehow in execution.
(Private Note to Shrieking Internet People: I'm going to leave out some obvious newer movies that meet that criteria, like The Matrix Reloaded or The Phantom Menace. Yes, those should have been better, in a variety of ways, basically all of them in fact, but this has already been gone into by every other site on the Internet, which I'll now refer you to.)
#6. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a fantastic comic strip written by Alan Moore, perhaps best known from his work writing fantastic comic strips. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is also a shockingly terrible movie with the same name as that comic strip.
I'm not going to say the film was "based" on the comic, because that's not what that word means.
Basically it's a highly original universe, with rich characters and a unique steampunk setting, that gets spectacularly pissed away. It is a ferocious, kind of intimidating racehorse piss of wasted potential, and makes me a little angry just thinking about it.
What the Remake Could Look Like:
First, start with a smaller cast. With too many characters in the first film, there was no room for any of them to develop. Each extraordinary gentleman got about three minutes of screen time, which was just enough to allow them some clumsy exposition explaining their unique powers while subduing villains. And no offense to Tom Sawyer and his power of "guns," but people buy movie tickets to see Mr. Hyde tear the legs off of bad dudes. More of that, please, and then, if there's time left over, maybe a scene of Jekyll waking up in a heap of legs and then have a single tear roll down his face. Bam! Character development.
And in general, maybe make the action a little less hectic. Think James Bond style pacing, with casinos and travel and mystery solving, which slowly builds up to the large-scale set pieces. You don't have to get too serious; this is a fundamentally silly concept for a universe, so have some fun with it. But when your script features a Victorian-era car racing down the streets of Venice to start an explosion that will stop other explosions, then you need to hold down your backspace key for a couple minutes, because you've made a mistake.
Also, Venice doesn't have streets. Hire a screenwriter who knows how Venice works.
Sphere was based on a novel written by Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park 2. In it, a bunch of scientists find an alien spacecraft on the seabed and go inside it, and sure enough, there's a bloody great big sphere in there. "Let's call this the orb," one of them suggests, but he's soon shouted down.
Later it turns out that the sphere is pretty strange, and some squids attack them.
I love movies that have what I'm going to call "alien archaeology" themes. You know what I'm talking about: where the protagonists uncover some ancient alien device, and start banging rocks against it to see what happens. Nice meaty questions arise naturally from this premise: Are humans capable of figuring out how to use this technology? And if we can, should we? Imagine giving a monkey a sword. Is he even going to figure out what it's for? And if so, is he going to rule the other monkeys wisely?
Getty More statues of me. That's what this place is missing.
This is obviously an old premise, done many times over by now in various bits of science fiction. But it's a good one, and hasn't shown up in movies for a while now; there's no reason not to explore this again. I mean, holy fuck, if they make another movie about Love Overcoming Some Contrived Obstacle I will shit screams out of my face.
What the Remake Could Look Like:
The biggest problem with Sphere was evidently just the script: wooden dialogue, too many changes in direction and unconvincing squid fights. That sounds easy enough to fix. Just let a different writer take a kick at the can, and tell him to give the squid better motivation. (Maybe years ago the squid's brother was dropped off a building by the protagonist?)
Also, in the original film, the titular sphere made its handlers' greatest fears come to life, which is what prompted the middle third of the film to play out like a mediocre horror movie. If we're going to keep the horror angle -- and I think we should -- then let's make it a good horror angle. Get rid of the cheesy monster attacks, and go for a more brooding psychological horror. Shadow people, mysterious sounds, blood-filled elevators, that kind of thing. Or at least give your characters better fears.
"UNDERSEA BEARS OH GOD NO IT'S REALLY HAPPENING."
You may or may not have heard of Zardoz, but if you've spent any time hanging around the Internet, you'll have seen this picture:
I have it as my wallpaper.
Zardoz was set in a post-apocalyptic world where Sean Connery is kind of a sparsely clad barbarian-knight. He manages to sneak into the home of his oppressors, a group of immortal milquetoasts, who don't have sex and spend most of their time talking utter horseshit. (This is, incidentally, a huge and unexpected slam against Internet users, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was made a couple decades before anyone knew what the Internet was.) Later, Sean Connery gets all the world's knowledge (seriously) and then murders everyone.
It's not a very good movie.
What the Remake Could Look Like:
Just make it exactly the same as before, except:
And now it's your wallpaper.
And don't change the casting.