Click to viewThe worst thing about Hollywood's plague of crappy SF remakes is, you get numb. You forget just how epically awful some of them were, even compared to Keanu/Klaatu. Here are the ten absolute worst remakes.
We're not just talking Day The Earth Stood Still bad. I know, I know - your head is still throbbing from the severe mediocrity and that slow, slow slide into the drool pond that happens after Klaatu takes off to travel around Upstate New York. But really - Keanu's insult to your senses is just the most recent, not the worst. Here. Let's refresh your memory.
Planet Of The Apes
The culprit: Tim Burton, plus a whole crew of performing monkeys.
Why the hate? Burton's remake of the 1970s classic is just cheesy in the wrong way. Too many supposedly clever lines like "Extremism in the defense of apes is no vice." Helena Bonham-Carter delivers a career-worst performance as a crusader for human rights. Even the usually reliable Paul Giamatti is scary bad as a cowardly slave-trader.
The Island Of Doctor Moreau
The culprit: Really, it sounds like the blame belongs with star Val Kilmer, who demanded that original director, Richard Stanley be fired. Then new director John Frankenheimer got into fights with Kilmer, and the shoot devolved into a shambles.
Why the hate? Webomatica sums up:
The original director was fired. Actors including Fairuza Balk walked off the set. The script was rewritten while shooting. This chaos was an ideal home for Brando's notorious antics and in one scene he wears an ice bucket on his head because… well, he was bored and nobody dared say no to the great actor. I wonder if other ideas like the white clown makeup or the piano duet with Mini Skinless Chicken were his, too. Val Kilmer was going through a divorce, called the shoot "crazy," and improvised much of his performance, phoning in a mouthful of marbles Brando impersonation at one point. The original director sneaked back on set just to participate, as an extra in furry makeup. Is there an Island of Dr. Moreau in Second Life?
The culprits: Director Oliver Hirschbiegel and star Nicole Kidman.
Why the hate? Actually, it starts out reasonably well. It's only once we get the revamped explanation of what's going on - there are no body snatchers, it's just a weird prozac-esque parasite - that it slides down hill. The last half hour, including the weak happy ending, are where it really loses its grip.
The culprit: Oh Nicole Kidman, what are you trying to do to us? Plus normally great director Frank Oz. Yoda, what were you thinking?
Why the hate? Oh man, where to start? For starters, you have the same excessive campiness and winking that ruined Burton's Apes. And then you have the same desire to throw away the premise of the original that ruined Invasion - the wives aren't robots, but humans controlled by an implanted chip. Also, like Invasion, it has a tacked-on happy ending.
The culprit: John McTiernan
Why the hate? I skipped this film, but the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes (where it gets a 4 percent rating) is that it skips everything that made the 1970s original into one of my fave movies. The social critique and future dystopia are gone, replaced with some vague Russian mobster plot. Worse yet, it's non-stop action but you can't even tell what's happening.
Turkish Star Wars
The culprit: Turkish censors, who wouldn't let the actual Star Wars into the country, thus necessitating a quick-and-dirty remake, complete with clips from the real thing.
Why the hate? It's not hate in this instance, it's love. This film is so cheap and badly made, it falls clearly into so-bad-it's-good territory. And at the end the hero karate-chops Darth Vader so hard, Vader's head splits in half, down the middle. Here's the whole movie, see for yourself:
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The culprit: Roland Emmerich. Who else?
Why the hate? I asked Annalee why she hated this movie, and she said, "Bad monster. CGI monster bad."
The Time Machine
The culprit: Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
Why the hate? I actually have a total soft spot for this movie, but I have to admit it's pretty bad. One huge problem: there's a sequence where New York is destroyed due to a botched lunar colonization attempt in 2037. This could have been a great sequence, but instead it was cut heavily because the film came out right after 9/11. Also, the second half of the film, where he goes to live among the Eloi, is just ridiculously cheesetastic. But I do like the idea that human science basically peaked in 2037, and then never recovered from the disaster for hundreds of years after.
I Am Legend
The culprit: Francis Lawrence, plus star Will Smith. Plus the studio suits who made them reshoot the ending.
Why the hate? I actually like the first half of this movie just fine. Plus this film really has to work hard to be worse than the Charlton Heston film Omega Man. (Which is also a remake, of The Last Man.) The movie just runs into major trouble once the crappy CGI zombies show up. The second half feels kind of like a letdown after the spooky first half, and the new ending is kind of blah. Here, for the record, is the original ending, which is still meh but better than what they finally went with.
The Nutty Professor
The culprit: Star Eddie Murphy, first and foremost.
Why the hate? Okay, maybe I'm crazy, but I kind of like the original Nutty, with Jerry Lewis. Murphy ruins the remake with his fatsuit obsession, turning the dichotomy between the Professor and Buddy Love into a super annoying fat guy, skinny guy riff. Plus, Murphy takes the thing of playing a hundred characters (which worked okay in Coming To America) and pushes it way over the line. The result takes a fable of a nerd trying to improve his social skills and way over-reaching into jerkdom, and turns it into a broad comedy about fatness and fart jokes.
Runners up: War Of The Worlds (Spielberg), Village Of The Damned (John Carpenter), Solaris (Steven Soderbergh), Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe), Death Race (Paul W.S. Anderson), Flubber (Les Mayfield)