Holy Remake, Batman! Movies That Work. Movies That Don’t


Some movies are classics–destined to be remade. We never tire of watching the same old story told over and over every few years with different actors. Other movies, however, are so iconic it would be blasphemous to even consider remaking them, and if there have been remakes, who remembers them?

Let’s take a look at a few from each category, why they do or don’t lend themselves to remakes and the pitfalls to avoid with an otherwise foolproof classic formula.

Green light, top view (Photo credit: mag3737)

Remake = Green Light

Anything by Jane Austen

pride and prejudice

pride and prejudice (Photo credit: Apostolos Letov)

Pride and Prejudice tops my list of hard to mess up movies. I growl at and sigh over every Mr. Darcy (David Rintoul—1980, Colin Firth—1995, Matthew Macfadyen 2005) and root for every Elizabeth Bennett (Elizabeth Garvie—1980, Jennifer Ehle—1995, Kiera Knightly—2005) no matter who portrays them. All that’s necessary to kindle my affection is for Darcy to be a “great tall fellow” with a prejudicial attitude and Elizabeth to be a sharp-tongued beauty with an excess of pride. Darcy and Elizabeth are the ultimate antagonistic lovers in denial. He is the consummate snob who, despite his better judgment, falls for a woman with deplorable relations. When Darcy finally declares himself, Elizabeth gives him a boot up the ass until he proves his worth. How can you go wrong with that? For the most part a filmmaker can’t and won’t so long as he or she remains faithful to the original material and follows a few edicts:

  • Thou shalt not modernize the dialogue, embellish or abridge the story.
  • Thou shalt not beat the viewer over the head with subtleties hinted at but not necessarily focused on by Ms. Austen.
Cover of "Mansfield Park (1999)"

Cover of Mansfield Park (1999)

In violation of these edicts is the 1999 version of Mansfield Park, starring Francis O’Connor as Fanny. This is a story of a woman adopted into wealth who witnesses the romantic maneuverings of her foster siblings while facing her own challenges. The movie depicts shocking scenes of the heroine walking in on an adulterous couple in flagrante delicto. I like the sexy as much as anyone else, but not in a Jane Austen movie. Sorry, but, no. In addition, the film’s heavy underscoring of slavery was another misstep. Slavery, while a reality in Ms. Austen’s time, was merely hinted at in the book. Ms. Austen did a bang up job with her tales of societal mores and manners by circling what needed to be circled and subtly tilting her head at what she preferred to leave unsaid. Keep your crayons between the lines please.

Superhero movies


Comic book heroes translate exceedingly well to film and usually improve as computerized and other special effects grow in sophistication. We want these movies to be made over. No diss intended to the late Christopher Reeves, but I’m looking forward to seeing Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel, not only because he’s a delicious bo-hunk of a man but because I look forward to the special effects. Superman in 2013 for the win!

Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters

Speaking of special effects, the 2011 version of Green Lantern, starring the ever-tasty Ryan Reynolds featured remarkable computer effects. For much of the film Ryan’s head was superimposed on a computer-generated body. So as a pitfall to beware, it is possible to take CG a little too far. Mr. Reynolds’ body is his best feature. Green screening it into oblivion was just wrong.

Another key to keeping comic book hero stories on the winning side of the coin is to stick to the tropes established in the comic books. Don’t dress Superman in silk boxers and a fishnet t-shirt or give Clark Kent wire-rimmed aviator glasses. Batman’s sidekick is his male ward, Robin, not a smart-alack street urchin. Comic book readers are pretty persnickety about their heroes. Filmmakers should avoid flipping them off.

Red emergency light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remake = Red light

Please Mr. Producer, please, please, never remake any of the following movies or I will haunt you from beyond the grave.

The Technicolor Classics:

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland (1939), is noteworthy as one of the first motion pictures in color (most of it). One of the best-known films of all time, the L Frank Baum classic infused its DNA into our popular culture. Who hasn’t said, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” or “I’ll get you, my pretty!” Though Broadway spawned an adaptation called The Wiz (1974, which was later made into a film in 1975), the differences were significant enough to avoid a jihad. I’ve never seen a remake of The Wizard of Oz nor do I wish to.

Cover of "Gone with the Wind"Gone With the Wind(1939) is another Technicolor movie starring Vivienne Leigh and Clark Gable and is based on the Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name. With a heroine equally admirable as she is detestable and a virile blackguard hero with enough logged Stairmaster hours to sweep a woman up a tall flight of stairs for some ravishment, what’s not to love? Throw in breathtaking settings and costumes, and you’ve got an epic full of win.

Cover of "This is Spinal Tap (Special Edi...
A more modern induction into Claire’s “Break the Mold, Please” museum is This is Spinal Tap(1984). If you’ve never seen this film, I will personally come to your home and make you watch it. I’ll even pop the corn while you queue up the DVD. Parody at its finest by some of comedy’s most elegantly subdued but brilliant, this “mockumentary” about a heavy metal hair band brought all new meanings to “eleven” and “Stonehenge”. I cannot even bear to imagine this film in the hands of any other than Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and a huge cast of cameo actors.

Alas, the older I get, the more I see remakes of movies that debuted in my youth. I can be a curmudgeon and shake my fist at the infidels, or I can assess my level of sentimental attachment to the original, and determine if my love is for the story or for its depiction. If the former, remake with my blessing. If the latter, well…I think I’ll stay home and read a good book instead.


Blogging A to Z: “Q” is for Questions

P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a meme to fulfill, a challenge issued by a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens comrade, Emaginette.

The idea is to answer the sender’s 11 questions, then come up with your own 11 questions and pass them along to 11 bloggers. They in turn answer your questions and link back to your site when done.

Here are the QUESTIONS Emaginette has issued forth to her eleven victims:

1. Favorite celebrity. What about them do you like best?

Toughie since I like so many, but let’s go with Tina Fey. I like her because in many respects, I am Liz Lemon, her character from 30 Rock.

2. Favorite animal, real or not. Why?

I love the kittehs. They are independent but sweet and cuddly too.

3. Favorite type of weather or climate. What do you do when it you are in your element?

I enjoy a good thunderstorm. I don’t feel guilty for being at my computer writing when the weather’s bad and the sound and light show adds a little spice. We don’t get much thunder and lightning in the Pacific northwest, though, not like we got in New Mexico where I used to live.

4. If you could live the life of anyone in a book, who would you choose and why?

This is a double-edged sword. All good characters undergo serious conflict in the course of the story, so anyone I pick will have either had an unhappy life or lived through some pretty rough times. For the sheer grandeur in scope of her story and the power of her love affair, I’d have to chose Claire Fraser from the Outlander series.

5. Who was the first character you fell in love with?

Mary Stewart wrote a book back in 1976 called Touch Not The Cat. I adored the heroine’s childhood friend, Rob Granger, in that book. I had just discovered gothic romances back then (in utero) and had been devouring works by Ms. Stewart (including her Merlin books), Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney.

6. What is you favorite food? Any special ingredient to make it taste just right?

I love really good New Mexican food, but my favorite is blue corn sour cream chicken enchiladas with green chile sauce.  Yummy! Of course I love almost all sweets but I’m on Weight Watchers so I’m not going there. Chiles (red or green, depending on preference) are de rigeur in New Mexican cuisine. Sadie’s Restaurant in Albuquerque makes a killer guaco chicken taco that when paired with a huge margarita on the rocks, is a culinary orgasm.

7. Of all the stories you’ve ever read, watched or heard, which five did you like best?

I’m gonna cheat a little bit and make one choice Aesop’s Fables–I adored those stories as a kid. To that, I’d add:  Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, The Three Musketeers, and Outlander.

8. If you were to jump into your car right now, where would you go? And why?

Probably to Barnes & Noble. They have a Starbucks and I love to get a nonfat latte and peruse the books and dream.

9. Is there a moment in your life that you would change? How would it turn out this time?

Hard to say. All of a life’s puzzle pieces are so intricately linked through chains of cause and effect. Change one and what else might suffer? I could say, for example, that I wished I’d let cute boy A know I liked him back in high school. But if I had, what of the Silverback and the two boys we have today? Would I have had a career? Would I have become a writer? It’s so random that I’d have to say the stakes are too high to gamble losing something more precious than what I would gain.

10. If you were given a large sum to donate to any cause you wanted, where would it go?

Probably to cancer research, breast cancer specifically. My mother is a three time breast cancer survivor and she had two siblings and an aunt also die from cancer.

11. Did you find this fun? Would you do it again?

The questions were very thought-provoking and made me reminisce about my life, so I’d have to say yes, I enjoyed it! I don’t like tagging other people though so I’m going to cheat on that part as you’ll see as you read farther.


So my 11 questions are:

1. The men get asked “boxers or briefs”? The ladies answer panties or thong? (you aren’t limited to those two choices however)

2. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate?

3. Olympics YAY or Olympics NAY? Explain why for either answer.

4. If you could have been born and raised in a completely different country than your own, which one would it be and why?

5. What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Why?

6. If you could be an Olympic athlete, what sport would you excel at?

7. Would you rather be critically acclaimed or a pop culture phenom?

8. What superhero power would you choose for yourself?

9. Tell me a word or grouping of words that makes you cringe and why?

10. If you were were forced to give up one of your senses for a million dollars, which would you choose and why? (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste)

11. Name three things on your bucket list.

Now, for the last part of the meme…

The first eleven people to read this post are tagged!  Ha! Told you I’d cheat.

Thank you, Emaginette!


Please be sure to visit more A to Z Blog Challenge participants today! Here’s where you can find their names and link to their blogs. The topics are endless.

Happy Birthday, Dad!