Some modern versions are worth more than the classic sci-fi movies they were based on
science movie remakes
The history of the seventh art is full of films that retell the same thing that other filmmakers have told us before. We have the feeling that, during the last decades, remakes and sequels (or thirds, or fifths, or…) seem to have filled the billboards. Perhaps it is true that Hollywood hardly has any original ideas, or perhaps the studios prefer to bet on something safe. This happens even more conspicuously in certain genres, and with science fiction it seems to be even worse.
In the case of science fiction films, it is more understandable that directors want to reformulate an earlier story. They have at their disposal tools unimaginable by their predecessors and the techniques of cinematographic narrative have changed, making many old feature films remain as museum pieces (or, better said, film library). There are classics over 50 years old that maintain their quality, but this is not always the case.
The recently released dunesof Denis Villeneuveis not the first remake of a science fiction film that surpasses an earlier version. that’s why today We wanted to bring you five new versions that improve their predecessors.
We leave you the best remakes of science fiction movies.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchersbased on the author’s novel Jack FinneyIt is a classic of history. It tells a more subtle alien invasion story than 1950s audiences were used to, it’s a story of conspiracy and paranoia. Humanity is being replaced by spores from space, which become duplicates that are indistinguishable from the original personsapart from the fact that they lack emotions. It is a striking political metaphor, although not very subtle, that denounces the supposed advance of communism and the paranoia of the left due to the rise of McCarthyism.
The 1970s remake follows a similar path, although we get to see the grisly manufacturing process of the pods in great detail. Like many movies of its time, Invasion of the Snatchers it is darkly nihilistic. The original ends on an upbeat note, in which the hero, played by Kevin McCarthy, convinces the others of the alien threat. In the remake the same character appears, although with a darker destiny. The bad guys won on many occasions during the ’70s.
Body Snatchers was revised in 1993 by the director Abel Ferrerawho made a smaller-scale but surprisingly good film, and once again with lesser results in Invasionfrom 2007, with Nicole Kidman Y Daniel Craig.
The Thing (1982)
The thinga remake of the 1951 film The thing from another worldbased on the classic novel by John W Campbell, is a masterpiece. The original film is a fairly competent sci-fi adventure, but radically changes the nature of the antagonist from the source material, and it’s an inferior movie for it. In the 1951 version, the protagonist is a vegetative life form that feeds on blood – one character calls it “super carrot” – and basically boils down to a generic monster movie with a man in disguise.
On the contrary, the remake of John Carpenter It picks up the tight plot and sizzling dialogue of the original and reintroduces the unfrozen enemy from the novel. In doing so, Carpenter adds a level of paranoia and tension that the original struggles to maintain. If to this we add an exemplary practical special effects job, Carpenter’s version of the story is by far the best. It’s closer to the source material, and it’s still a movie that stands up today (but we better not talk about the prequel).
The Fly (1986)
The original 1958 version of The fly always rose above the other mad scientist movies of the same era, thanks to Vincent Price And to a really chilling ending that shows the other victim of the movie’s teleporter crash: a small fly with a human head that begs for its life as he struggles to free himself from a spider’s web.
David Cronenberg It takes the same premise – a rogue fly in a teleportation pod causing trouble – and puts the body horror spin on it that the horror master excels at. In the 1986 remake, instead of dividing the subject into two distinct entitiesthe damned scientist Seth Brundle it begins to metamorphose, merging its DNA with that of the wayward house fly.
Not just a great remake, but one of the best science fiction and horror movies of the 80sThe Fly is one of the more conventional films in Cronenberg’s heavy portfolio. It’s hard to think of anyone better than Jeff Goldblum for the role: he brings just the right level of eccentricity to the film, but is still likable enough. The original is a great B-movie monster movie. The remake is a smart and sophisticated horror movie with just enough “yuck” to keep gore lovers happy.
The War of the Worlds (2005)
We are still patiently waiting for a decent film adaptation of the material from the 1898 novel by H. G. Wells set in Victorian times. The BBC premiered a mediocre and unsuccessful television adaptation of the book in three chapters back in 2019, but nobody seems to have gotten it right yet.
However, some movies come close. George Pal premiered the first film War of the Worlds in 1953, giving it a contemporary setting and moving it to America. The themes are the same as in the novel, but the aliens themselves are a disappointment: instead of the novel’s characteristic tripods, they pilot spaceships. Because of this, The War of the Worlds looks like another generic “Earth vs. Flying Saucers” movie from the 1950s.
On the contrary, updating steven spielberg of 2005 maintains the contemporary temporal perspective and the American setting, but recovers the tripods, huge and towering, with ominous and terrifying silhouettes. From the brutal and overwhelming first wave of attack to the abrupt end, in which the Martians’ war plans fall apart as direct consequence of their anti-vaccine mentality (if you’ve avoided spoilers for over a century and we’ve spoiled the ending for you, we apologize), Spielberg shows us the whole war.
Tom Cruise, despite his star status, he plays a convincing everyman. It’s not perfect – Cruise and his child seem to possess incredible luck or the gift of immortality – but it will serve us well until the final Victorian adaptation arrives.
I am legend (2007)
The 1954 novel I’m legend had already been adapted twice for the big screen, once as the last man on earthwith Vincent Priceand another like last man alivewith charlton heston. All three films share a common story: that of the last survivor on Earth after a plague has turned the rest of humanity into bestial creatures. The two original films, while fine, are flawed. The usually reliable Price gave a poor performance in the first, and the second is weakened by weak antagonists.
In the version of Will Smith there is no such danger. Here, the Seekers of Darkness are vampiric spawn who avoid sunlight, but are armed with supernatural senses, speed, strength, and stamina. They hunt in packs and are really terrifying, albeit a bit CGI-heavy.
Will Smith’s film is not without its flaws. The premise of the book is that the hero realizes that he has been the real villain all along; the 2007 film’s ending removes this aspect altogether (although the home version contains an alternate conclusion). Still, I Am Legend presents a compelling Dead Land and contains an excellent performance by Will Smith.