24 Movie Remakes That Have No Reason to Exist

Point Break (2015)
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Movie remakes have a terrible reputation and are often seen as cash grabs, capitalizing on nostalgia. There are exceptions to that rule, like John Carpenter’s The Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly, which reinvented the films they were remaking. But they’re the exceptions that prove the rule. There’s a reason remakes have the reputation they have, and there are so many that just shouldn’t exist.

1. Lion King (2019)

Image Credit: Disney Pictures.

The live-action Disney remake films are generally called out as unnecessary. But one sticks out as the most unnecessary and the worst: The Lion King (2019). The remake isn’t even live-action because all animal characters and locations are CGI-created. Yet it still strips the glorious color that made the 1994 film so stunning.

2. Martyrs (2015)

Image Credit: The Safran Company.

Like the current trend of live-action Disney remakes, there’s been a significant trend since the 2000s of English language remakes of successful foreign films. Sometimes, as with 2002’s The Ring, those remakes are arguably better than the original, but overwhelmingly, they’re unnecessary and dilute the power of the original.

That’s certainly the case with 2015’s Martyrs. The remake not only dials down the extreme violence that made the 2008 French film a classic of disturbing cinema, but it also trades in the most exciting themes of that film (non-religious martyrdom) for a more obvious religious setting and then even fails to explore that concept well.

3. Psycho (1998)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The shot-for-shot remake is more common than we might expect, but Gus van Sant’s 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho remains the poster child for the phenomenon. It was seen as an experiment when director Gus Van Sant spoke about recreating the original film. But the remake fails to capture the same magic as the original.

4. Cabin Fever (2016) 

Image Credit: IFC Midnight.

The Cabin Fever remake isn’t precisely a shot-for-shot remake, but it uses the same script as the original film. It’s another remake that shows filmmaking is so much more than the story, as the original’s sense of personality (courtesy of writer/director Eli Roth) is lacking from the remake.

5. Red Dawn (2012)

Image Credit: Contrafilm.

It’s a bold choice to remake a Cold War era classic in the 2010s when movies are marketed to Chinese audiences just as much as Americans, but that’s what Red Dawn (2012) attempted to do anyway. Unfortunately, the remake doesn’t live up to the action intensity of the original film, and the story, about a North Korean invasion of America, feels more jingoistic than anything else.

6. Robocop (2014)

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Paul Verhoeven’s original Robocop is one of the greatest movies ever made about the relationship between police and capital. The remake is a serviceable action movie with overwrought drama. It’s not an awful movie, but there’s no reason for it to exist. Its attempts at satire are weak compared to the biting satire of the original, and other science-fiction stories explore the themes of cyborg identity much better.

7. Total Recall (2012)

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Another remake of a Paul Verhoeven film, 2012’s Total Recall, is one of the most widely agreed upon unnecessary remakes. The movie waters down the violence of the original and makes the ridiculous story more serious, thereby losing the sense of silliness and fun central to the original.

8. Ben Hur (2016)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The 2016 remake of Ben Hur isn’t the first remake of the film, but it’s the first unnecessary remake. The first movie adaptation of the novel by Lew Wallace was made in 1925, but the 1959 remake starring Charlton Heston delivered awe-inspiring set pieces and is the version most people remember. The 2016 version attempts to live up to the greatness of the 1959 version but offers shoddy CGI in place of real stunts and crowds.

9. Point Break (2015)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break combines heist film cat and mouse dynamics with extreme sports adrenaline to deliver an action movie classic. The 2015 remake attempts to do the same, but the updated story isn’t as compelling as the original.

Some of the stunt work in the remake is great, but those sequences can’t save the movie from feeling unnecessary.

10. Oldboy (2013) 

Image Credit: Good Universe.

Oldboy (2013) is another instance of a foreign film being remade in English. But this time, a beloved, talented, and idiosyncratic director took the reins. One would hope that someone like Spike Lee could make a remake worth seeing, but instead, Lee delivered not just an unnecessary remake but one of the worst films of his career.

11. The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

The original 1960 The Magnificent Seven is a reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, simply transporting the story of villagers seeking seven warriors to help them stand up to bandits from feudal Japan to the Old West. But the 2016 remake just doesn’t need to exist. Despite a strong cast including Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio and some solid action sequences, it pales compared to the 1960 version. 

12. Diabolique (1996)

Sharon Stone, Isabelle Adjani in Diabolique (1996)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The 1996 English language remake of the French classic Diabolique at least offers some theoretically interesting changes to its source material. The movie places the story in the 1990s and makes the boarding school that serves as the film’s setting explicitly Catholic. But those changes, and the inspired casting of Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani as the central characters, can’t save the psychological thriller from feeling like an unnecessary attempt to recreate a masterpiece. 

13. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

Michael Shannon in Fahrenheit 451 (2018)
Image Credit: Michael Gibson/HBO.

Ray Bradbury’s classic science fiction novel about book burning was first adapted to film in 1966 by French auteur François Truffaut; more than fifty years later, another film sought to update the movie. The 2018 adaptation features strong performances from the always-great Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, as well as some interesting production design. But it works too hard to make the material relevant to its current moment, thereby losing some of the power of the original novel and 1966 adaptation. 

14. Carrie (2013)

Chloë Grace Moretz in Carrie (2013)
Image Credit: Michael Gibson/Sony Pictures Releasing.

Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel made them and the eponymous Carrie household names. On the flip side, the 2013 adaptation of Carrie seems to have been mostly forgotten, which is likely for the better since it gestures at updating the story but fails to do anything interesting with its changes. 

15. The Grinch (2018)

The Grinch (2018)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Say what you will about the 2000 live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, at least it’s something unique and creative. The 2018 computer-animated adaptation The Grinch feels like it’s just padding out the story to reach feature length. While its bright colors may please children, it looks wrong to anyone who grew up with the iconic 2D 1966 TV special.

16. The Invasion (2007) 

Nicole Kidman in The Invasion
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Village Roadshow Films.

The fourth cinematic adaptation of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney is also the worst. The first three adaptations each bring the novel to life for their own time, both in terms of genre and socio-political anxieties. But 2007’s The Invasion doesn’t feel like it’s doing much of anything. It’s not just an unnecessary remake of a film that’s been done better multiple times before; it’s also just a bad adaptation. 

17. The Grudge (2019)

John Cho in The Grudge (2019)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

2019’s The Grudge is another film that’s one in a line of remakes. The movie is, in theory, more of a “reboot” than a “remake,” but its non-linear narrative about someone investigating a haunting in a house where a murder occurred is the same as the Japanese original and the 2004 English language remake. The 2004 film was already not very good, but the 2019 version is even weaker, with few scares and a boring script. 

18. Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Gabriel Byrne in Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
Image Credit: Rogue Pictures.

John Carpenter has made so many iconic films that four have already been remade, and three more are in development. Some are better than others, or at least more interesting, but 2005 was a lousy year for Carpenter remakes. The Assault on Precinct 13 remake spends more time on the gangsters who attack the eponymous precinct and inverts the racial dynamic of the original film (white criminal and Black cop working together) so that it feels like it’s relying on stereotypes instead of subverting them. 

19. The Fog (2005)

The Fog (2005)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

2005 also saw the remake of Carpenter’s The Fog hit theaters. The remake of the atmospheric ghost story about a seaside town haunting fails to deliver the atmosphere or the likable characters of the original and attempts to get by on gore effects but ends up mostly just dull. 

20. The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The 2017 iteration of The Mummy, inspired by both the original 1932 monster movie and the 1999 adventure film, was supposed to usher in an interconnected franchise like the MCU. But it was so reviled and such a box office failure that Universal changed its entire approach to its monster catalog. The movie pulls far too much from other, better films and offers up an overwhelming but never exciting barrage of CGI images. 

21. Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla (1998)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

1998’s Godzilla is a strange monster (pun intended). The film is the first American production to center on the giant lizard, but it arrived after more than 20 other Godzilla movies. Those other movies don’t make it look any better, though, as Godzilla (1998) attempts to redesign and reconsider the beloved kaiju in ways that only made it a disappointment to long-time fans and a failure as a franchise starter. 

22. Taxi (2004)

Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon in Taxi (2004)
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

Most bad remakes are attempts at returning to a beloved film or franchise, banking on nostalgia to bring audiences into theaters. But 2004’s Taxi is a remake of a reasonably successful French film of the same name that only diehard car movie fans knew about, and the American remake turns an exciting action comedy into an almost painfully unfunny comedy with some solid action sequences. 

23. Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

2017’s Ghost in the Shell combines the misguided impulses of American remakes of foreign films and live-action remakes of animated films to deliver something that just shouldn’t exist. The movie looks excellent, with fantastic production design and cinematography. But its script dumbs down the nuances and ambiguities of the original film, offering up something that feels more condescending to English-speaking audiences than anything else. 

24. The Pink Panther (2006)

Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer in The Pink Panther 2006
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Remakes of beloved movies are hard to pull off in general (see this list). But they’re tough to make work when the original revolves around an iconic performance. The initial run of Pink Panther movies aren’t always the best movies, but they are all fantastic Peter Sellers vehicles, allowing the comedian to be as ridiculous as he wanted as Inspector Clouseau. The remake casts Steve Martin in the role, but he doesn’t have the same ability to make the character into comedy gold. 


The Usual Suspects
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures.

Written by Kyle Logan

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