6 Movie Remakes That Were Actually Better Than the Original

In Hollywood, the announcement that a studio is remaking a movie is almost always bad news. Nothing can make you hate a movie faster than knowing you’ve already seen it, and a better version, at that. Though many fans of the original Total Recall were ready to hurl their complaints when the remake was announced, early reviewers and even fans who have seen the trailers are hesitating to say this one is worse than the original. Is there a chance that it could actually be better? While we’ll have to wait to hear the final verdict on this remake, there are a few examples of awesome movies that succeeded in surpassing the original. Here are six, in no particular order.

  1. Hairspray, 2007: This movie isn’t for everyone, but if you love toe-tapping, upbeat music and a film that sends a good message or two underneath all of its cheese, the newest version of Hairspray is perfect for you. While it doesn’t stray much from the plot of the original, the star-studded cast brings the fun to a different level. Nikki Blonsky outshines Rikki Lake in every way, and who doesn’t want to see John Travolta in drag? Throw in Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, and Michelle Pfeiffer, and the old Hairspray doesn’t stand a chance.

  2. Casino Royale, 2006: According to a fan survey a few years ago, the recent version of Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig is the best remake of all time. But comparing the two is really like comparing apples and oranges. The 1967 film was a spoof on the 007 franchise, created by a different production company than the rest, and was purposefully goofy and over the top. The newer version, though, was a feat even among the other beloved 007 films. Full of twists, suspense, and great acting, 2006’s Casino Royale will stand the test of time.

  3. The Parent Trap, 1998: Children’s movies are perfect for remakes since the target audience typically wasn’t alive when the original came out. And the redo of The Parent Trap actually made it enjoyable for parents or grandparents who loved the 1961 original, as well. The plots follow similar paths, with two identical twins meeting for the first time and agreeing to switch places, but the newer version refines the idea a bit more. We also like Lindsay Lohan (or at least the 12-year-old version of Lindsay Lohan) better than Hayley Mills for the role, as she brings to life two separate characters from different parts of the globe.

  4. Scarface, 1983: It’s possible you didn’t even realize that the classic film favorite of dudes everywhere was even a remake. The original was released in 1932 and told the story of crime bosses in Chicago. It was praised by critics and eventually selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, so it’s surprising that any later version could even come close to its fame. Some plot points are changed — the main character is a Cuban immigrant in Miami, for example — and Al Pacino delivers an unforgettable performance. Even with all the violence and swearing (or perhaps because of it), the newer Scarface earned its place in history and the hearts of fans everywhere. “Say hello to my little friend!” Need we say more?

  5. Ocean’s Eleven, 2001: Steven Soderbergh may have taken it too far with Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen, but his version of Ocean’s Eleven, based on the 1960 original, was a thrill to watch. You can’t exactly replace the Rat Pack, who appeared in the earlier film, but using an ensemble cast of the biggest names in Hollywood (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts all in one film?!) puts the film in a different realm than most remakes. Add in the seeming ease with which Soderbergh pulled off an action-packed, suspenseful flick where you’re continuously surprised that every hiccup was part of the plan, and you can see why the original, while great, is no match for this generation’s acting and directing star power.

  6. 3:10 to Yuma, 2007: The original classic 3:10 to Yuma was filmed 50 years before the remake during the time when Westerns were still popular fare, but the modern edge and character development of the 2007 version makes for a brilliant remake. Besides doing the mostly bygone genre justice, Russell Crowe as outlaw Ben Wade and Christian Bale as brave rancher Dan Evans bring a depth and range to the main characters that was missing in the original where the roles were much more static. If given the chance to see only one of these brilliant Westerns, opt for the newer, with its beautiful cinematography, witty dialogue, and exciting gunplay. The plot’s mostly the same, so you won’t miss out on much from the original.

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