The answer is: it depends!
Many people aren’t that keen on the idea of sci-fi remakes. The original sci-fi movies are the ones they mostly grew up with, and when the concept of remakes is presented to them, they’d probably say that these producers are ruining that part of their childhood! Sounds funny, but this is true. However, Hollywood loves to do those remakes.
There are original sci-fi films that remain undisputed compared to the remakes. However, there are some remakes which are just as good or end up even miles better than the original. There are few originals and remakes that arrive at a tie in terms of overall brilliance. Sci-fi remakes are not a bad thing, after all, as long as they’re well-made and staying much respectful and truthful to the original (but with definitely a much modern twist). These remakes must also have a good script and a charachter development on top of the jaw-dropping special effects that are definitely more advanced and realistic than they were fifty or sixty years ago.
Original sci-fi movies are still the best
Here are some examples of original classic sci-fi movies that are arguably better than the remake:
1. Planet of the Apes (original 1968; remake 2001)
The original film was shot in 1968, and directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Blake Edwards was intially approched but the producer chose Schaffner to helm the the film. Planet of the Apes was adapted from the 1963 French novel La Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle and starred Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans and Kim Hunter. The original film was praised when it was theatrically released, and has become a movie classic.
The 2001 remake, directed by Tim Burton, was a box-office smash. However, the
reviews ranged from mixed to negative. Some point out that the film, although respectful of the 1968 original, lacked storyline balance. The others see cheesy lines and bad acting by some of the cast members as the culprit.
2. The Island of Lost Souls (1932),The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977),The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
All films were based on H.G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In the 1932 original film adaptation, it starred Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and Kathleen Burke. Laughton played as Dr. Moreau, an obsessed scientist who rules the roost on a remote island, conducting surgical experiments on the animals. The film was quite controversial during its time, and in fact was rejected three times in the UK by the board film censors particularly due to portrayal of animal cruelty. The film was finally given an “X” certification in 1958.The Island of Lost Souls has been critically re-appraised over the years; in fact, Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95% rating.
In the 1977 update The Island of Dr. Moreau, it starred Burt Lancaster and Michael York. It received mixed reviews upon its original release but the strong performances of York and Lancaster were given particular praises. The 1996 remake starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer is the least commercially and critically successful of the three films. Blame it on the production disaster. Kilmer demanded that the original director of the film, Richard Stanley, be dismissed. A new director John Frankenheimer got into fights with Kilmer, and the whole production deteriorated into shambles. The script underwent many rewrites during the shooting.
3. The Day the Earth Stood Still(original movie, 1951; remake, 2008)
The original production of The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951 (based on Harry Bates’ short story “Farewell to the Master”) was released to modest box-office receipts, but as the years passed the film was re-appraised critically. The film’s documentary style was widely praised by critics in the US and most especially overseas, and its score by Bernard Herrman earned a Golden Globe nomination.
The 2008 remake (starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly) was definitely miles away from the 1951 original, with its awe-inspiring special effects. It was also a reverse in response compared to the original. While it became a huge box-office hit, the film falls short after delivering a promising start, especially after Klaatu escapes from the clutches of the government.
4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1956), Invasion (2007)
Both the original movie The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and the fourth remake movie Invasion(2007) are adaptations of Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers. The original film, upon its theatrical release, was largely ignored by critics. But as years passed it has garnered wide critical plaudits in retrsopect. Even when it was filmed almost sixty years ago, it is still as very scary as before, and undoubtedly influential. That’s where the popular term “pod people” came from, which now refers to emotionless people.
The 2007 remake is remarkably distinct from the original, including the transformation of humans to aliens. Instead of the human duplicates grown from pods, the alien organism works its own menace towards the human victims within the brain — so where exactly are the body snatchers? It is a downhill from last half-hour of the film which ends with a weak happy ending.
Remakes that are as good as or better than the original
The movies mentioned above are the reasons why sci-fi remakes might be a bad idea. However, there are remakes that just are as good or even miles better than the original, so people might re-consider their opinions regarding sci-fi movie remakes. Here are a few examples:
1. Godzilla (first appearance, 1954; last appearance 2014)
The original 1954 film of the Godzilla franchise was a box-office hit in Japan; a heavily edited Americanization of the film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (starring Raymond Burr) was released in both US and Japan in 1956. Like the original Godzilla, it became very popular as well and garnered critical praises.
The 2014 re-imagining, directed by Gareth Edwards, was a box-office smash and received generally positive reviews. The special effects and the monster-fighting were well executed while there’s enough human drama to keep the audiences glued to their seats.
2. The Fly (original, 1958; remake 1986)
These films were based from George Langelaan’s short story about scientist who accidentally switch DNA’s with a fly while testing his new teleportation invention. The 1958 original of The Fly installment was produced and directed by Kurt Newmann. It was a huge success at the box office, considering its relatively small budget. It was also critically well-favored.
The 1986 re-imagining was an even better adaptation. Directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jeff Goldbum, the film’s effective combination of gory, graphic creature effects and heartbreaking love story is something that pulled the audiences. The film became a blockbuster and a critical triumph, and was even more successful than the original. The Fly remake has somewhat become of a sci-fi classic.
3. The Last Man on Earth (1964) and The Omega Man (1971)
The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man are both adaptations of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend, about the last human being left after the world has been plagued with vampire-like creatures. The Last Man on Earth starred Vincent Price; although it wasn’t a commercial success upon its original release, the film later gained praises from the critics as the years passed. Director George Romero even drew inspiration from the The Last Man on Earth as the base material for his own classic horror film Night of the Living Dead.
The remake The Omega Man starred Charlton Heston, and became the more well-known and popular celluloid adaptation of Matheson’s novel. There’s actually a third and latest adaptation, the 2007 box office Will Smith movie I Am Legend. Although it is pleasing to watch, it’s the least faithful film version of Matheson’s novel.
4. The Thing from Another World(1951) and The Thing (1982)
The 1951 movie The Thing from Another World was based on John W. Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There?” which tells about an Air Force crew and scientists, stationed inside the Arctic outpost, who try to fend off a vicious alien plant. The Thing from Another World is one of the greatest sci-fi films of that decade.
John Carpenter took the helm for the 1982 remake and intended to make it more visually repulsive and stomach-churning that shocked the audience as well as the critics. The remake delved into the fear and parnaoia like no other else could.
- 100 best sci-fi movies ever made – Time Out Film
Leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists pick the best sci-fi movies ever made.
- List of science fiction films – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia