It seems every year that a remake, a re-imagining or a re-boot hits our cinema screens,dividing the public’s opinion. Sometimes the general reaction is positive, but most of thetime people are left asking ‘why?’I will be looking at 3 movie remakes and discussing how well they did and why they weremade.I will begin with ‘War of the Worlds’.War of the Worlds started life as an 1898 novel written by H.G Wells, split into two volumes.Taking place in England, it tells the story of unnamed character and his brother looking forhis wife after an alien invasion. The book was immensely popular, having never gone out ofpublication to this date, and various adaptations were made. A 1938 radio broadcast,narrated by Orson Welles, was very famous as it was read as a news bulletin which fooledmany listeners into thinking that it was real. Due to the book’s and radio programme’ssuccess; a theatrical movie was released by Paramount Pictures in 1953, directed by ByronHaskin.The film’s plot was slightly different from the book. Set in America, it tells the story of ascientist who tries to find out how to defeat the aliens.Dr. Clayton Forrester witnesses a large meteorite crashing into the town of Linda Rosa.Before he gets the chance to examine it an alien escapes and immediately kills 3 peoplebefore knocking out the town’s power. As other meteorites crash land around the world, theMarines step in, looking for peace with the alien soldiers. The aliens attack, killing many sothe Marines flee. Forrester and his friend Sylvia escape in a small military plane. They hidein an abandoned farmhouse surrounded by several unsuspecting Martians. Forresterwounds one with an axe and takes a sample of its blood. The scientist discovers the alien’sweaknesses from the sample. The military drop 3 atomic bombs on the Martians that proveunsuccessful. It is estimated that the Aliens will take over Earth in just 6 days. When all hopeis lost, and people begin to accept their fate, it is revealed that the Martians have nobiological defences against the bacteria and virus’ in the Earth and suddenly die.The film was well received with the public and critics. It was officially the most successfulSci-Fi of the year, earning a $2 million profit in the box office. It was also nominated for 3Academy Awards, winning 1, picking up the Oscar for Best Special Effects.Stephen Spielberg, after working with Tom Cruise on the 2002 film, Minority Report,declared that he’d love to work with him on another film. A meeting took place where thedirector explained to Cruise that he had 3 possible films that he would like to make. Theyboth agreed on a remake of War of the Worlds, and in 2005 it was released horizontally byParamount and Dreamworks.The film’s plot differs from the original, but does bear small similarities with the book. Itfollows the story of Ray Ferrier, (Cruise) an estranged single father who operates containercranes in New Jersey. His kids, 10 year old Rachel and 17 year old Robbie, come to stay overfor the weekend as their Mum is visiting her parents in Boston. A day later, a huge lightningstorm hits the town. When it ends, he and his bewildered neighbours venture outside. A hugemachine with three long legs, known as a Tripod, steps up from underneath the ground andbegins killing many people. Ray just about escapes the carnage and drives away with Racheland Robbie to his ex-wife’s house where they stay the night. They awake to find half the
house has been destroyed, and the street looking like a war zone. Ray decides to take the kidsto their Mother in Boston. Robbie has decided that he wants to join the armed forces in theirmission to defeat the aliens. Ray leaves Rachel by a tree to try and bring Robbie back, but ashe has hold of him he notices and couple trying to take away Rachel, thinking they are savingher. Ray makes the decision to go back to Rachel, leaving Robbie who runs off. It looks likeRobbie has been killed seconds later though when the Tripod’s let off an explosion whichpresumably kills everyone. Ray and Rachel are taken in by a man named Harlan who isplotting revenge on the aliens as they killed his family. The next morning one of the aliensmakes its way into Harlan’s house, so the three of them hide. The alien leaves after a tensefew minutes, but Harlan is losing his mind, screaming and shouting so Ray makes the toughchoice of killing him so to protect Rachel and himself. Rachel has run outside and is capturedby the Tripod. Ray finds some of Harlan’s grenades so sets some off in order for him to becaptured too. He is selected by the aliens for harvesting but all of the other prisoners grabhold of Ray, saving him. As he was half way up into the Tripod, he lets off a grenade inside,and as he is pulled away, the Tripod blows up, freeing all of the captives. Ray and Rachelfinally arrive in Boston, where they find Robbie at his grandparents’ house with Mum. Raynotices that plants are dying due to bacteria. Suddenly the Tripod’s collapse and die, as it isrevealed that they have no biological defences against natural bacteria.Although made on a huge budget, $132 million to be precise, the film was a massivecommercial success, earning over half a billion dollars at a cool $591 million. The film wasalso successful with the critics too, with the most praise aimed toward the special effects andthe fresh storyline related to a film that had already been adapted for film, TV, radio andstage. Cruise’s acting was also commended, although the ending to the film was slightlycriticised as it was seen as quite flat. That didn’t deter the film when it came to the AcademyAwards though, earning three nominations in the Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and VisualEffects categories.The second film I will be looking at is REC.REC is a Spanish horror movie released in 2007, featuring English subtitles for the UK andUSA audience where it gained a cult following. Directed and written by JaumeBalagueró andPaco Plaza, it follows the story of a TV presenter who is at a fire station filming adocumentary when the fire fighters are called out to an apartment block after a woman haslocked herself into her room. While there though, they realise that the situation is a lot worsethan first anticipated.Balagueró and Plaza had previously worked together before, directing the documentary OT,The Movie back in 2002. Both fans of the horror genre, they decided to create a horror movieof their own. Little did they know that their little movie, on a slim budget, would find itselfranked alongside the true horror classics.Going back to their documentary making days, the pair decided to have the film played outin a handheld fashion, giving the impression that the film wasn’t a work of fiction at all.Abandoning music and dramatic Hollywood-style stunts, the movie achieved what it alwayswanted to do; sometimes shifting aside an understandable plot for the sole purpose to terrify.And terrify it does.
Casting real life TV presenter Manuela Velasco in the lead role as a reporter made the filmeven more feasible, making people believe that what they are watching is a documentary.This was more apparent in Spain, where Velasco is a household name.REC beginswith Velasco’s character, Angela Vidal and her cameraman attempting to film adocumentary called ‘While You Sleep’. This episode has them following the fire-fighters ofBarcelona on their night shift. The department receive a call about an elderly woman beingtrapped inside her apartment. Manu, the head fire-fighter, agrees to let Angela and Pabloaccompany him and his team on what they believe to be a routine job. When they arrive, thepolice are already there, and they smash down the woman’s door. The woman then becomesextremely violent and bites on the officers. Downstairs, the terrified residents are gathered inthe entrance hall, and the military arrive outside to seal off the building. No one inside thebuilding knows what is going on. After heading downstairs, and leaving one fire-fighter tokeep tabs on the lady, they are shocked to see him thrown down the stairs, in a critical state.The police man kills the old lady with a single shot. Despite being told by the police to stoprecording, Angela encourages Pablo to continue. Angela then interviews a little girl namedJennifer, who tells her that she is feeling unwell and her dog is currently at the vets.A health inspector arrives and reveals that people who have been bitten react differentlydepending on their blood type, and also explains how a dog taking into the vets earlier in theday had gone crazy and attacked the other animals. Jennifer then suddenly attacks hermother and runs away. The police have no option but to handcuff Jennifer’s mother to thestairs, so if she does change she cannot hurt anybody. More and more people in the block arebecoming infected, making them aggressive and bloodthirsty. Angela and Pablo are forced tofight them off, before learning of a key to an exit that is located on the third floor.After retrieving the key, they appear to be the only human survivors. They are forced evenfurther upstairs by the un-dead and stumble into the former owner’s penthouse. Theydiscover that he used to be an agent for the Vatican, and had captured a girl who he believedto be infected to try to create a cure for her. However, when he realised that she wascontagious, he locked her away and left town, presumably to starve her and the virus todeath.The attic door swings open, and Pablo pokes his camera up to have a look. Something jumpsup and smashes the light form his camera, leaving him and Angela inside the pitch blackattic. Pablo decides to turn on the night vision and notices the captured girl searching fortheir whereabouts. Pablo tries to escape, but trips and is killed by the girl with a hammer.Angela, now alone in the attic with the girl, picks up the camera and tries to run away, but inthe darkness she falls over too. Frantically searching for the camera, which is right in front ofher and still recording, the girl arrives out of nowhere – dragging the screaming Angela intothe darkness – leaving her fate unknown.The movie was widely acclaimed by the majority of critics, the most praise attached to thehand-held style and the originality. The movie was nominated and won many awards inSpain as well as being described as the best ‘shaky-cam’ movie ever made. Two sequels werereleased; REC 2 and REC 3: Genesis in 2009 and 2012 respectively.Quarantine, the American remake released in 2008, isn’t your average remake. Hitting thecinema screens only a year after REC did, there were many factors as to why a moviedescribed as a ‘carbon-copy of REC’ was created.
Created on a larger budget, as is to be expected with Hollywood remakes, Quarantine wasn’tas well-received as the original Spanish version, earning poor-to-mixed reviews from critics.The reason this film was made was down to the sheer success of the original, and the slightlygreedy American companies wanting to join the ride, which explains the reason as to whyQuarantine was made and released so soon after REC. REC was still carrying a buzz aroundthe world, so the makers of Quarantine thought their movie would be a success becausemany people enjoyed the original.Although the critical response was largely poor, the Americans were proved right as theyenjoyed a decent return at the Box Office, earning over $40 million compared to the $12million budget. This was largely helped by the intrigue and curiosity of moviegoers whowanted to see the American interpretation of a modern classic. The fact that REC was beingsold on DVD at the same time that Quarantine was being shown in the cinemas also helpedtoo. Quarantine’s box office returns earned them a sequel, Quarantine 2: Terminal in 2010– where the plot was completely different to the REC sequels.The third and final films I will be looking at are Karate Kid and its 2010 remake.The original Karate Kid was released in 1984 by Columbia and directed by John G. Avildsen.The film is about how a 16 year old called Daniel is told by his mother that they are movingfrom New Jersey to Los Angeles, where he is immediately bullied and decides to ask theapartment handyman to teach him karate in order to get back at his tormenters.Written by Robert Mark Kamen as a underdog story, this is what attracted Avildsen to theproject as he has great success with a previous underdog film - the hugely successful Rocky,from 1976.Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves from New Jersey to L.A with his mother. Aftermeeting his apartment’s maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), Daniel becomes closewith the popular cheerleader Ali (Elizabeth Shue) once he starts school. This irritates herboyfriend, Johnny, who happens to be the best student at the local karate dojo. Johnny andhis gang begin to bully Daniel, and after one particular beating after school, Mr. Miyagiappears to stop the fight. Daniel wants the handy man to train him; he refuses but agrees totake him to the dojo to make peace. The sensei, the brutish John Kreese, laughs it off andchallenges Daniel to enter a tournament in 2 months’ time. Miyagi agrees to train Daniel andmakes an agreement with the sensei to have his students leave him alone until after thetournament. Daniel becomes frustrated with Mr. Miyagi for making him doing many chores,such as wax his car and paint his house. After a while, Mr. Miyagi attacks Daniel, showingthat the muscle movements that Daniel used while doing the chores were actually importantdefensive moves. They become closer to the point where Daniel and Mr. Miyagi develop afather-son relationship. The tournament arrives and Daniel surprisingly makes it to thesemi-finals, where he faces Bobby, one of sensei John’s least vicious students, with the prizeof facing Johnny in the final. Kreese instructs Bobby to perform an illegal move, makinghimself disqualified and Daniel out injured, thus making Johnny the winner. Bobbyreluctantly performs the move, which leaves Daniel requiring medical attention. Daniel isadvised by the doctor to pull out of the competition, but Daniel refuses, believing he bulliesto defeat him should he quit. He hobbles out into the ring where he is holding his ownagainst the fitter Johnny. After a well-constructed blow to the nose, Johnny is forced to hiscorner to clean up the blood. His sensei then orders him to sweep the leg, which disgustsJohnny but he does it anyway out of fear. Daniel keeps getting up though, and the fight is at a
tie-breaker. With Johnny performing another illegal move, Daniel only has the strength forone last move. He places himself into the ‘crane’ stance, a move he has only ever seen Mr.Miyagi do. Johnny lunges into him, but he jumps up and kicks Johnny in the chin, winningthe tournament. Johnny hands Daniel the trophy himself, gaining a new-found respect forhis opponent. The film ends as Daniel celebrates his unbelievable win.The film was a hit, with both critics and at the box office, earning over $90 million in theUSA alone from an $8 million budget. The praise was mainly attached to the relationshipbetween student and teacher, as it got more and more personal into a father-son kindcloseness. The film was nominated for many awards, picking up the Best Family Film as wellas Elizabeth Shue awarded with Best Young Supporting Actress at the Young Artist Awardsfor her performance as Ali. Pat Morita also won praise from critics for his performance asMr. Miyagi, earning an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Thefilm was so successful that it was rewarded with 3 sequels – two of them starring Macchioand Morita whereas the 4th film was seen as a re-boot with Morita teaching a new studentplayed by newcomer Hilary Swank. The first sequel was well received by critics and evengrossed more at the box office than the first film. However the 3rd and 4th parts were pannedand the series was put on hold for many years until the 2010 remake.The remake, distributed by the same distributors of the original, Columbia, was released in2010. Directed by HaraldZwart and with Hollywood mega star Will Smith and his wife,actress Jada Pinkett-Smith credited with producer roles, the movie was produced on a muchhigher budget than the original - $28 million more to be precise.Will and Jada’s son, Jaden was announced as the main character of the film, this time calledDre. The plot was almost identical to the original, apart from a few differences, such as Drebeing 12 years old, Dre and his mother moving from the USA to China, the re-naming of Mr.Miyagi to Mr. Han (now played by Jackie Chan) and the ‘wax on, wax off’ method becomingthe ‘jacket on, jacket off’ technique.Prior to its release, there was an issue regarding the name of the film. Some decided that itshould not be called The Karate Kid as karate isn’t actually featured in the remake. Karateoriginates from Okinawa, but as the film is set in China, Mr. Han teaches Dre the art ofKung-Fu. A compromise was made however, with the film being known as The Kung FuDream in China, Japan and South Korea.The remake did very well at the box office, grossing just under $360 million worldwide. Thecritics praised the film too. Although pointing out that is wasn’t as good as the original, theysaid that it was a satisfying 21st Century version of a classic film, praising the performancesand chemistry between young Smith and veteran Chan. As the demographic age was loweredfor the remake, the nominations and awards came from award ceremonies like the MTVAwards and Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.The remake was a success for many reasons. One being star theory. Will Smith and his wifeJada as producers and their son Jaden and Jackie Chan starring was always going to be a bigdraw for audiences. Synergy played a big part too. The original movie only had a handful ofassociated products, such as posters and t-shirts. The remake was made in an era wheretechnology is rife and Twitter and Facebook play a huge part in helping a movie to succeedwhich is why the remake made a lot more money than the original. Examples of the 2010version’s merchandise are DVD/Blu-ray sales (which didn’t exist when the original was
released), a soundtrack album featuring many popular artists such as Justin Bieber, Akon,Lady Gaga and Flo Rida being sold on iTunes, iPod/iPad apps and games, downloadableposters as well as many others.