There are only 3 reasons you should remake/reboot a movie!

The recent announcement that a Memento remake is in the works a mere 15 years after the film’s original release has been rightly met with surprise and despair. The fact that the original was only 15 years ago isn’t even the main reason to feel aggrieved. Memento is a movie that does not need a remake. A remake can add nothing positive to a movie as good as the original Memento is.

In fact, there are very few reasons to decide to remake or reboot a movie. There are only three I can think of and they are as follows;

Using technology to do the movie justice

Some films were great in the past but the time period they were made in couldn’t do them the justice they deserve. A movie studio announcing that they want to remake a movie, usually sci-fi or fantasy, in an attempt to bring it to the screen in the creative vision it was intended is a good reason to do so. Replacing dodgy practical effects with CGI can work well, but only if the original is seen as having poor effects. Nobody should be looking to remake Gremlins!

Examples: King Kong, Clash of the Titans, The Day the Earth Stood Still

To reinvigorate a dying franchise

Some franchises have a movie that poisons the rest of the series. A flourishing franchise can be undone by a poor movie in the series which then forces a rethink. Sometimes that’s a simple sequel, wiping clean the slate but often it means completely starting from scratch. In some cases, this is a good idea, particularly in superhero movies. It can be a good idea to wait a little while before you try to tell the same story again though.

Examples: Batman Begins, The Amazing Spiderman, Terminator Genisys

To bring a foreign language movie to a western audience

This is one I don’t necessarily agree with but can see the merits of. As much as the original movies can be great, perfect in some cases, they won’t be seen by anyone who is averse to subtitles. It means that some movies, to get the recognition they deserve, require a western, Hollywood remake to convert the language, culture and performances into the English language. Sometimes this works brilliantly and the film can surpass what it has remade, more often than not it manages to point people in the direction of the far superior original, a positive in itself.

Examples: Oldboy, The Departed, The Magnificent Seven.

Overall, there are only three reasons to remake a movie. If you are not trying to update the effects, refresh a dying franchise or bring a foreign product to a western audience, don’t remake it. There is no creative reason to redo someone else’s work, particularly if the movie is as good (and recent) as Memento.

Please leave this movie alone
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5 comments

  1. That’s a solid list.

    A possible fourth reason might be when a movie based on a book, like The Shining or Blade Runner, – though awesome movies in their own right – diverge far enough away from its source material that a more faithful re-make would be sufficiently different but equally interesting.

  2. Great thoughts here. There have obviously been some terrible remakes with more on the way, but as long as there is a fresh idea or new twist on it, I don’t mind. Switch things up, make the protagonist a woman, or update it for the Internet age. Still, you’re right that this movie does not need to be remade one bit.

    • I always think if you want to change anything about a remake, then create a new movie. Similarities are fine but to remake a movie and then just change one aspect for the sake of it seems pretty redundant.

  3. Hey, cool article. I have a few thoughts.

    I sort of agree on the special effects, as sometimes its nice to see familiar stuff updated with new visuals. But eventually those visuals are going to be old to, so it doesn’t really work for posterity, only the actual quality of the film making will do that. And lets face it, in most cases we have a lesser film, like in all three of the examples you listed (especially Kong).

    As far as rebooting, I think movie fans have more of a tolerance for it it is a franchise that existed outside of film first, like comic books. But if the film franchise existed first, people may be less open to rebooting.

    • I think you’re right. People tolerate reboots if it means we will get a more “faithful” version of whatever the original medium was but if it started as a pretty incredible film already (eg. Memento) then people tolerate it a lot less.

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