One of the few movies on this list that I've actually seen. The RoboCop remake is perhaps the mildest offender since its only real fault is failing to bring something new to the table--an absolute must for any remake.
Not that I'm excusing the film makers' poor judgment in deciding to remake RoboCop in the first place. The original tackled perennial issues ranging from anti-cop violence to the meaning of humanity to consumerism run amok so deftly as to be definitive.
Since any recognizable RoboCop story pretty much has to address these topics, any attempt to say something new on those fronts with thoughtfulness and style even approaching the original basically sets itself up for failure.
Total Recall 2012
Full disclosure: I haven't seen 2012's Total Recall. Nor am I likely to. It's not even that the original film is perfect. On the contrary, while I have a soft spot for Verhoeven's 19990 version, the schlocky 80s action movie interpretation of Philip K. Dick's short story leaves plenty of room for improvement.
This remake was a chance to give "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale" the Minority Report caliber treatment it deserved. But the title alone tells me that I'd be in for a watered-down remake of the fun, often goofy Schwarzenegger action flick; not a faithful adaptation of the PKD source material.
Conan the Barbarian 2011
Speaking of lackluster remakes of classic Arnold Schwarzenegger films, Half in the Bag told me everything I needed to know about 2011's Conan the Barbarian.
Fright Night 2011
Speaking of Half in the Bag, they also told me everything I needed to know about 2011's Fright Night.
Red Dawn 2012
I skipped this one, too--for the complaints of rampant shaky cam, if nothing else. However, reports that the commies invading the US were changed from the Chinese to the North Koreans provide the first major instance of a remake tarnished by political correctness and pandering to overseas markets.
Point Break 2015
This imitation of the Kathryn Bigelow original made my prior list of ill-conceived remakes. Can't say I'm displeased to see that it's already sunken into obscurity. Let Point Break 2015 serve as a harbinger of the fate awaiting uninspired remakes yet to come.
Covered this yesterday. Took second place to a kid's movie in its second week of release. Fell miserably short of the (formerly) worst film in the series' opening weekend. Only recouped 1/3 of its production budget, which was itself a fraction of the total budget after promotional costs. Tied for biggest PC propaganda piece on this list. Banned in the market that Red Dawn sold out to. Next.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Time to lay my cards on the table. Any dog with an internet connection can safely predict that an Escape from New York reboot will fade into obscurity five minutes after its misbegotten release. It takes true grit (actually a decent remake), keen insight into the popular zeitgeist, or stark raving madness to predict the same fate for a Star Wars movie.
But that's what I'm doing.
In a comment on my Ghostbusters 2016 post, reader JD Cowan predicted a coming backlash against TFA. Not only do I concur wholeheartedly, there are clear signs that a popular reaction against what's basically a Star Wars 1977 remake is already underway.
Say what you will about George Lucas' directing talents. He can dream up memorable imagery like nobody's business. Cameron is dead right when he says that TFA fails to match even the prequels' visual imagination.
Compare the two images below. The first is the iconic opening sequence of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The second is the analogous scene in Episode VII.
Now tell me honestly: which frame draws your eye in, imparts a sense of motion and action despite being a still image, and conveys everything you need to know about the film's antagonists and protagonists--including their relative strength and basic relationship?
And which one looks like a shadow puppet?
There's no contest. TFA's opening presents us with a mostly dark screen that's immediately much less interesting to look at than ANH's shot of Tatooine before the ships fly over. The only objects of note are promptly blocked by a vague black shape.
It's dull, it's flat, and it fails to impart even 1/10 of the plot, character, conflict, and theme information that the Devastator chasing the Tantive IV does in one frame of A New Hope. TFA's opening betrays an acute case of directorial Dunning-Kruger syndrome: someone who thinks he's fluent in the visual language of film when he's really a Chinese box mimicking true masters without understanding.
That's not even getting into the achingly PC propaganda shoehorned into the script.
Star Wars Episode VII made money because it's Star Wars--the only franchise that can draw massive audiences with its name alone. At least, it used to be. Fans are already wising up to the fact that TFA is a not-so-thinly veiled insult to their existence. If the foretastes we've had of Rogue One are any indication, Disney may be on the verge of squandering all of the franchise's social capital.
Think it can't happen? Then you're probably too young to remember the pop culture scene ca. 1985-1995, after the hype surrounding Return of the Jedi had died down and before the mid-90s special editions. Hard as it is to conceive of now, there was a time when Star Wars was reduced to an afterthought, if that; surviving only as a toy line.
Lucas has always been a consummate businessman. He knew what he was doing with the special editions and the prequels. Love them or hate them, they were wildly successful in attaining their primary purpose: reigniting public interest in Star Wars, particularly in the all-important kids' demographic.
Star Wars toys raked in mountains of cash last Christmas for much the same reason that the movie they cross-promoted did: the franchise's dwindling supply of good will. Contra the mint that Disney has made on Star Wars toys, there are signs that they're having trouble managing what has always been the IP's most valuable aspect.
Consider Disney's total overhaul of Star Wars game production, including mass firings, which resulted in the very pretty but roundly disappointing Battlefront 2015.
Then there's the tone-deaf marketing, exemplified by this ad in which a young boy who daydreams about being a Jedi Knight rushing to his sister's rescue has his fantasy crushed when his ingrate of a sibling easily saves herself while complaining that he wasn't as punctual as she'd have liked.
|Why didn't you do this BEFORE?|
To recap: under Disney's hamfisted micromanagement, Star Wars has become self-derivative, preachy, visually flat, and unmemorable. If upcoming films in the series continue this trend, expect an angry backlash followed by a lapse into oblivion--especially if they fail to transmit fandom to the next generation.
Perhaps I'm wrong. In fact, you might love all of the movies on this list. In either case I invite you to read my novels, which are space operas but not movies.