Really? They’re remaking THAT?

With David Fincher’s venture to remake The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo**, I am again tempted to ask – why does every foreign film that makes a few bucks or becomes a critical success or is just made, automatically receives an adaptation to an American version? Are Americans not able to read subtitles? Are they that lazy or illiterate? Or is there real merit to it? Are the new versions better, do they introduce the material in a fashion that deserves to be put out there for audiences to see?

Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

  •  Vanilla Sky, which many moviegoers seemed to hate but I, being a person who adores almost instantaneously anything Cameron Crowe directs, liked more than a lot. The plot and script are mainly kept the same, thankfully not dumbed-down for the crowds, and Penelope Cruz reprises the role she had in the original – Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). I guess my only quibble is with Cameron Diaz, who is unlikable enough for the role of “the saddest girl to ever hold a martini” but is also, well, unlikable.
    IMDb score: remake – 6.9; original – 7.9
    My vote: remake (because of Jason Lee and a magnificent soundtrack)
  •  Let Me In tells a story of romance between a 12-year old boy and a girl who turns out to be a vampire (this is not a spoiler, it’s in the goddamn trailer). The original, Låt den rätte komma in (Let The Right One In), is Swedish and more subdued, which in the cases of thrillers tends to be better. The remake has a bunch of scenes that are shot-for-shot, but it doesn’t show the much needed restraint that a story with not too much plot requires.
    IMDb score: remake – 7.3; original – 8.1
    My vote: original (it gives an irk-y feeling that just doesn’t relent)
  •  Look, even Scorsese does it. The Departed, an all-around entertaining and smart movie with an excellent cast, is actually a remake of Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs). Just see the opening sequence and you’ll understand the greatness:
    IMDb score: remake – 8.5 ; original – 8.1
    My vote: remake (no fucking doubt about it)

The thing is, there are a lot of crappy remakes to movies that aren’t so good to begin with, a bunch of horror flicks from Japan and silly comedies from France I just don’t have the patience to watch, so I hereby present to you a table that summarizes those that came out since 2000. See how many you recognize and how many took only a year or two to remake:

Original

IMDb Score

Remake

IMDb Score

La Double Vie de Véronique (1991)

7.8

Passion of Mind (2000)

5.2

Les Visiteurs (1993)

6.7

Just Visiting (2001)

5.6

La Sirène du Mississippi (1969)

7.0

Original Sin (2001)

5.7

Es geschah am hellichten Tag (1958)

8.0

The Pledge (2001)

6.9

Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)

7.7

Tortilla Soup (2001)

6.3

Insomnia (1997)

7.3

Insomnia (2002)

7.2

Swept Away (1974)

7.3

Swept Away (2002)

3.5

Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)

8.0

Welcome to Collinwood (2002)

6.2

Nine Queens (2000)

7.8

Criminal (2004)

6.4

Dark Water (2002)

7.0

Dark Water (2004)

5.6

Shall We Dance (1996)

7.8

Shall We Dance? (2004)

6.0

Taxi (1998)

6.8

Taxi (2004)

4.1

L’Appartement (1996)

7.6

Wicker Park (2004)

6.9

Ju-On (2000)

6.6

The Grudge (2005)

5.7

The Ring (1998)

7.4

The Ring (2002)

7.2

Il Mare (2000)

7.7

The Lake House (2006)

6.8

Pulse (2001)

6.7

Pulse (2006)

4.5

Gin gwai (2002)

6.9

The Eye (2007)

5.2

Bangkok Dangerous (1999)

6.6

Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

5.4

Brødre (2004)

7.6

Brothers (2008)

7.2

My Sassy Girl (2001)

8.2

My Sassy Girl (2008)

6.0

[Rec] (2007)

7.7

Quarantine (2008)

6.1

The Dinner Game (1998)

7.7

Dinner for Schmucks (2009)

6.0

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

7.4

The Uninvited (2009)

6.2

As you can see, in none of them did the remake surpass the original. You can explain some of it by bias on IMDb towards American film, more people rate them, or in other words, less people watched the original. But in most of the movies mentioned above the difference is staggering – the remakes are, to put lightly, not well-received.

I think Hollywood needs to rethink the whole “importing movies” strategy. I’m not saying they should go European and just dub everything, cause that’s obnoxious and creepy – but maybe, when you decide to copy someone’s work, you should bring them on-board to give some critique. It’s obviously needed.

** For once, I’m actually glad for the Foreign Film Phobia Americans appear to have. If only because it created an opportunity for “Immigrant Song” to be covered by Karen O and Trent Reznor. Here’s hoping the rest of the soundtrack is just as good (since I already know I don’t care much for the plot of the movie, but it’s Fincher, so who knows? The guy IS a genius).

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2 Responses to Really? They’re remaking THAT?

  1. חנן says:

    You know that usually the trailer soundtrack has nothing to do with the movie soundtrack, right? Much in the same way the movie title looks different in the trailer and in the movie.

  2. hadarw says:

    You do know that Reznor did the remix for the movie specifically, right? Much in the same way he did the whole soundtrack for Fincher’s last movie – The Social Network.

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