New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Unpopular Opinions: Remakes and Reboots

With A24’s “Gloria Bell,” the remake of the Chilean film “Gloria,” receiving a lot of early praise, the Arts Desk is looking at other remakes and reboots that are also up to par with, or better than, their predecessors.
A scene from “Dinner for Schmucks,” a remake of the French comedy “Le Dîner de Cons.” (via Paramount)

From “A Star Is Born” to the upcoming live-action “The Lion King,” remakes and reboots have been mainstays in Hollywood for decades. Though it is easy to immediately discredit a retelling as unoriginal or lazy, the hard work and thought that is put into building upon a previous version of a story should not go unrecognized. Moreover, as much as some people would like to think otherwise, some remakes and reboots can actually add to or improve upon the original. This is Unpopular Opinions: Remakes and Reboots.

“The Departed”

Plot twists can be mind-blowing or absolutely ruin movies. However, “The Departed” is a movie in which the big twist is intentionally revealed to the audience within the first 20 minutes; yet, you’re left intrigued and on the edge of your seat the entire time. Directed by legendary filmmaker and NYU alumnus Martin Scorsese, “The Departed” is a Hollywood remake of the critically acclaimed “Infernal Affairs” and went on to win four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Set in Boston, the film begins as Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) places Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) as a mole within the State Police, while the police direct state trooper Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello’s gang. Running 50 minutes longer than the original, “The Departed” plays out like an everlasting dance. Scorsese keeps the movie going at a fast clip, making it feel even more entertaining and immersive than the original film. It stands as one of Scorsese’s best films to date. Also, as is the case in most of Scorsese’s works, “The Departed” has a stellar soundtrack, featuring a great use of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” another addition that “Infernal Affairs” lacks. Ultimately, “The Departed” is a masterful gangster film with a plethora of stellar performances, a tight script and very good editing, leaving the viewer breathless by the end of the film. — Guru

“Evil Dead”

Rarely does a remake serve its predecessor justice. For “Evil Dead” (2013), its remake is the franchise’s redemption. Fans of the 1981 cult classic remember the original film’s camp and humility — but millennial fans of the new age horror flick know the franchise as gruesome, unrelenting and a tad sacrilegious. Over the past decade, plenty of horror films from the ‘70s and ‘80s have been revamped for extra shock, scares and visual effects — “When A Stranger Calls” comes to mind, as well as Rob Zombie’s “Halloween.” For horror aficionados that prefer an action-based thriller over a psychological one, as well as plenty of gory visuals, 2013’s “Evil Dead” is a stone cold success. — Nicole

“Dinner for Schmucks”

For a film that missed high expectations, this is still a curious and pleasant watch. Steve Carell reprises his best character, the lovable and pitiable dimwit Barry. It is an adaptation of the 1998 French comedy “Le Dîner de Cons,” and a charming movie in its own right. Although it does not have as many laughs as one would expect from the pairing of Zach Galifianakis and Steve Carell in their primes, “Dinner for Schmucks” deserves more acclaim than history accorded it. The premise and familiar names do much of the lifting for the movie since a dinner for oddballs and loonies allows for endless possibilities. Steve Carell as an excitable, naive to the extreme mouse taxidermist is an unmissable character. His dioramas alone make the movie worth the watch. Paul Rudd is the straightest of all straight men throughout. Admittedly, “Dinner for Schmucks” could do away with most of its extraneous frame story and just jump into the dinner alone. At times, the long build towards the dinner’s hilarity feels tedious. Still, Steve Carell and Zach Galifianakis, as idiot and king of the idiots respectively, are electric in their scenes together and carry this lovable film. — Dante

“The Ring”

This 2002 horror flick — a remake of the 1998 Japanese film “Ring” — is a modern classic for a reason. Naomi Watts plays Rachel, a journalist investigating the horrifying and inexplicable death of her teenage niece, Katie. She looks into an urban legend about a cursed videotape her niece supposedly watched; whoever views the tape is said to die seven days later. Rachel locates and watches the tape, which contains dark and disturbing images, including a woman jumping off a cliff, squirming maggots and a ring of light; she later catches her young son watching it. As she researches the footage, Rachel begins experiencing strange symptoms and, realizing the truth of the curse, rushes to find the tape’s origin before her seven days are up. Like in the Japanese “Ring” — a rightfully acclaimed film in its own right — “The Ring” builds its tension through suspense and dread. The bones of the remake’s story are largely the same, but what sets “The Ring” apart from its source material is its directing and imagery. With cinematography by Bojan Bazelli and direction by Gore Verbinski, the film is shot in bleak tones of blue, grey and black. The tape itself is a deeply upsetting watch, with grime pervading every frame of incongruous and eerie footage. And the brief glimpse we get of Katie’s body, her face grey and twisted in horror, is an image that will stay with me for a long, long time. — Alex

Email the Arts Desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Alex Cullina
Alex Cullina, Theatre & Books Editor
Alex Cullina is the Theatre & Books Editor for WSN. A native Clevelander, he is a junior studying English and History in CAS. Growing up in Ohio before coming to New York, he's very defensive of the Midwest, despite its many (many) flaws. Beside keeping up with the best in new film and TV, you can often find him curled up with a good book or the latest issue of The New Yorker.
Nicole Rosenthal
Nicole Rosenthal, Music Editor
Nicole Rosenthal is the Music Editor for WSN and a dual Journalism and Psychology major. Born and raised on Long Island, Nicole has always enjoyed listening to music and attending concerts in nearby New York City, making playlists which include everything from the B-52's to BROCKHAMPTON to Bon Iver. She has written for several music blogs and news publications and is currently an editorial intern at amNewYork. Outside the realm of music, Nicole spends her free time binge watching true crime series on Netflix, hunting down new Brooklyn coffee spots and writing creative fiction.

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