What’re The Best & Worst Remakes Since ’95?

Following on from the success of the What’re The Most Acclaimed Comic Book Films feature last year, I decided to use the same technique on something even more ubiquitous than comic book movies – remakes.

In fact this category was so large I’ve kept the list restricted to a time when film criticism really began online back in 1995. Dark Horizons started a year later, and I remember doing write-ups on almost all of these films listed below as they came out. By keeping it to that time limit, it also prevents what some call the ‘nostalgia factor’ from creeping in and skewering the results.

The remakes that the general public have warmed to haven’t always been what the critics have embraced, and yet there’s a lot more simpatico between the two groups in this category than there was with comic book films.

How The Scores Were Worked Out
Like last time I combined three scores for each film using three major sites – the wide-sweeping critical countings of Rotten Tomatoes, the more selective critical assessments of Metacritic, and the open to the public IMDb user ratings.

Does it prove anything? Nope, but it does give you a solid list of what few remakes are actually worth your time, what were ultimately pointless, and what ones were downright embarrassing. If this were my own personal list I’d be making some key adjustments (“King Kong” lower, “The Ring” and “Thomas Crown Affair” higher).

One condition was decided from the get go – RT’s T-Meter score is ignored in favour of each film’s ‘Average Rating’ by critics out of 10. Without a mixed option, the T-meter score is generally unreliable as very mixed reviews are often classified as positive – leading to many widely liked but rarely acclaimed films scoring ridiculously high. The site’s average rating score from critics however has proven far more stable and consistent over time and is employed instead.

A film like “Arthur” had a 4.4/10 RT average rating score, a 36/100 Metacritic score, and a 5.7/10 IMDb user rating. The result was worked out like so:

(4.4 x 10) + 36 + (5.7 x 10) = 137 / 3 = 45.66. This meant its final score was 45.66 out of 100.

On the rare occasion where a Metacritic score wasn’t available, the remaining two scores were combined and divided by two rather than three. If only one source was available, that title wasn’t included.

Remake vs. Reboot vs. New Adaptation
A remake of course is exactly that, a new adaptation based on a pre-existing film or screenplay. New films based on other material however – books, video games, comics, etc. are NOT remakes, those are new adaptations.

One key issue I ran into early was a couple of key films hover right on that line. The Coens’ “True Grit”, the Will Smith-led “I Am Legend” , David Fincher’s “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo”, Len Wiseman’s “Total Recall” and Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In” are all technically new adaptations of books, but said films owe a LOT to their cinematic predecessors so I’ve included them.

More clearly standalone is Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” (76.33) which, despite being loosely inspired by the Castellari film, is really an original work.

Most reboots are NOT remakes. Films like “Casino Royale” (79.33), “Batman Begins” (76.66), “Dredd” (67.00), “The Incredible Hulk” (64.00), and “Conan the Barbarian” (42.66) are new adaptations or interpretations of their literary sources.

Though based on existing film and TV properties, films like “Star Trek” (81.33), “The Pink Panther” (44.00) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (72.00) are also not direct remakes of any of the previous films or episodes.

The “Evangelion” anime ‘rebuild’ movies are a unique case in that first one is a direct remake (but didn’t get enough scores to rank here), the second is mostly a remake (and thus qualified) while the next two are all new material and thus don’t qualify.

Also films based on musicals based on films such as “Hairspray” and “The Producers” are technically not remakes.

Over 160 films have been included in the study, the full list is below along with their worldwide box-office gross:

“Catch That Kid” (2004) – 39.66 – ($17M)
“Love Don’t Cost a Thing” (2003) – 39.66 – ($22M)
“Pathfinder” (2007) – 39.33 – ($31M)
“Thir13en Ghosts” (2001) – 39.00 – ($68M)
“Gloria” (1999) – 38.33 – ($4M)
“The Women” (2008) – 38.00 – ($50M)
“Sorority Row” (2009) – 38.00 – ($27M)
“The Bachelor” (1999) – 38.00 – ($37M)
“Bangkok Dangerous” (2008) – 37.33 – ($42M)
“Get Carter” (2000) – 36.00 – ($19M)
“The Wicker Man” (2006) – 36.00 – ($39M)
“Pulse” (2006) – 35.66 – ($30M)
“When a Stranger Calls” (2006) – 35.66 – ($67M)
“Taxi” (2004) – 34.33 – ($69M)
“Black Christmas” (2006) – 32.66 – ($22M)
“The Fog” (2005) – 29.33 – ($46M)
“One Missed Call” (2008) – 28.66 – ($46M)
“Prom Night” (2008) – 27.33 – ($57M)
“Swept Away” (2002) – 26.66 – ($0.6M)
“Rollerball” (2002) – 23.00 – ($19M)