*Words can’t really encompass just how excited we are for Spike Lee’s latest joint – a remake of the legendary Korean film Oldboy that should mark a nice little comeback for someone who has floundered in the feature film department over the past few years. He’s got a lot to live up too.
Oldboy is one of the most fascinating films of the 2000s (check out Roger Ebert’s original review of the movie here, but if anyone could successfully transfer its sensibilities to an American audience, it is Lee – who films images and emotions just as well, if not better, than any other American filmmaker.
Let’s just hope that Lee can make this new version of Oldboy into something memorable – one of those rare movie remakes that have somehow either equaled or surpassed the original films. So, what are the other remakes out there that have gotten to these levels? Here are our five picks:
THE DEPARTED – Martin Scorsese’s 2006 crime drama FINALLY got him the Oscar he deserved for Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Raging Bull and just about every movie he did. This remake of the Hong Kong thiller Infernal Affairs isn’t Scorsese’s best work, but the hilariously profane script by William Monahan, incredible Boston locations and great work by Mark Wahlberg and an ace cast makes it a memorable thriller.
DAWN OF THE DEAD – One of the few remakes that far surpasses the original, this 2004 film from Zack Snyder is the best of the “70s horror remakes” craze that gripped Hollywood in the early 2000s. It’s a hilariously violent and well-cast movie that hints at the talent behind the camera (Snyder would go on to do 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel) and is a whole lot scarier than the rather staid original.
OCEAN’S 11 – The original Ocean’s 11 is a simple, charmless vanity project for the Rat Pack. The remake is a vanity project too – but with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle have far too much fun stealing from Andy Garcia. It’s a shame that the movies lost their charm so quickly; Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13 are barely tolerable.
TRUE GRIT – John Wayne’s Oscar-winning performance was the most memorable part of the original True Grit; the rest of it is just your standard western fare. The marvelous Coen brothers stick truer to the original book’s grittiness, and Jeff Bridges’ marvelously crusty turn as Rooster Cogburn at least equals Wayne’s.
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR – Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway made a glamourous couple in the original Thomas Crown Affair from 1968; Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo (looking far too good for the age 45) are just as sultry in the 1999 caper remake. Ably directed by the Die Hard veteran John McTiernan, the 1999 version is a slick, enjoyable good time of a film.