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.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 thehouse has been destroyed, and the street looking like a war zone. Ray decides to take the kids
to 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.
The film begins with Velasco’s character, Angela Vidal, attempting to film a documentary at alocal fire station. After a short while of interviews and capturing the firemen’s routines, thedepartment receive a call about an elderly lady trapped in her apartment. They allow Angelaand her camera-man, known only as Pablo, to accompany them on what they believe to be arather small incident. When they arrive, the police are already there and they smash downthe woman’s door. The military soon arrive and seal off the building, leaving the terrifiedresidents to gather in the entrance hall. Meanwhile upstairs, the woman has becomeincredibly violent, biting one of the policemen. She is shot and killed by the police. They headfor downstairs to find they cannot leave. Angela and Pablo decide to carry on filming, andbegin to interview the residents of the apartment block. A little girl named Jennifer revealsthat she isn’t feeling very well, and her dog is currently at the vets. A health inspector,wearing a protective suit, arrives to take care of the sick. They suddenly try to attack him,despite their conditions.He explains that people with different blood types react differentlyto the mystery condition, before revealing that a dog brought to the vets earlier in the dayhad gone crazy and attacked the other animals. Jennifer then vomits blood and runsupstairs. Jennifer’s mother is handcuffed to the stairs by the policeman and heads upstairswith Manu, the lead fire-fighter. After finding Jennifer, the policeman attempts to inject asyringe into her, but she bites him. Manu and Pablo see that there are now many morepeople infected and are attempting to smash through a door for their ‘food’. They have nochoice but to leave Jennifer’s mother to be slaughtered in order to save themselves. Thenumber of people infected is increasing, so Angela, Manu and Pablo are forced to fight themoff. They learn that there is a key leading to an exit, but they must make their way up to thethird floor to retrieve it. After Angela and Pablo find the key, Manu is bitten, leaving thosetwo to be the only people in the apartment block to not be infected or dead. They are forcedeven further upstairs by the crowd of infected, meaning they cannot make their way to theexit on the ground floor. They stumble into the upstairs penthouse, finding someincriminating evidence as to how the virus started. It is revealed that the former owner of theapartment block was an agent of the Vatican, who captured a girl to try to stop the virus fromspreading. He abandons town and locks her away to starve her and the virus to death. Angelaand Pablo make their way into the attic, but a boy jumps up and smashes the light off ofPablo’s camera. They are now in pitch black. Pablo switches on the night vision on hiscamera which means he can only see through his camera and Angela cannot see at all. Thegirl who was left to die by the Vatican agent is actually in the attic, and she is looking forAngela and Pablo. As they try to escape, Pablo trips and is killed by the girl with a hammer.Angela finds the camera and tries to run away, but also trips and drops the camera. As shefrantically searches for it, the infected girl comes out of nowhere, dragging Angela into thedarkness, 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.