25 best movie remakes

25 best movie remakes ever

This week’s big Stuff.tv movie list feature, to which I contributed, is a run-through of the 25 best remakes ever. Remakes get a bit of a bad rap among film fans – it’s unimaginative, they say, or it’s an attempt to trade on name recognition.

Fair enough, I think. Hollywood’s a business, and if name recognition will get a few more bums on seats, then it’s all to the good. And to paraphrase Stephen King, the originals are still on your shelf.

If you add up all the movies produced in Hollywood in a year – and that includes the Cinemax skin-flicks and Asylum knock-offs and all the rest – and then look at the number of good films that come out of it, there are normally, what? Ten, twenty really good films or so? I reckon that the proportion of good remakes to bad remakes is about the same.

25 best movie remakes

A Stitch in Time on ShortsTV!

A Stitch in Time on ShortsTV!

A bit of news – my short film A Stitch In Time has been picked up for distribution by Shorts International, and is now available to view on ShortsTV as part of the Shorts Midnight strand.

So A Stitch In Time is doing the rounds of American TV, where it will hopefully entertain someone in the wee hours with its excursion into the realms of quantum physics and haberdashery.

Batman Returns

Well, it’s been a while – but OD on Films is back up and running. I’m currently writing for Stuff.tv, writing about gadgets and gizmos – and, periodically, films.

Among the film-related pieces I’ve written recently is a look at Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), in which Michael Keaton’s Batman tangles with Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s slinky Catwoman.

Burton’s 1989 Batman famously dragged the Dark Knight back into the shadows after years in which the popular perception of the character had been shaped by Adam West’s campy Caped Crusader. Of course, comics fans were plenty familiar with a more sober, gritty Batman, as seen in Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ 1970s rendition of the character and the infamous 1980s graphic novels, Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

The 1989 Batman doesn’t entirely feel like Burton’s film, though. He’s said as much himself, commenting that, “It got away from me a little bit.” That’s evident in jarring elements like the Prince soundtrack, and a script that bears all the hallmarks of studio-imposed rewrites during production (why exactly does the Joker climb to the top of the Gotham City Cathedral?).

Batman ReturnsBatman Returns, though, is Burton’s film through and through. With the clout to impose his own vision on the film, he conjured up a Gothic, whimsical confection that’s closer in tone to Edward Scissorhands than the first Batman film.

The artificial, enclosed sets, the camp, snowbound cheer of a Gotham Christmas, the Frankenstein stitching on Catwoman’s outfit, the spirals and stripes on the Red Triangle Circus Gang, the misfit, Uncle-Fester-a-like Penguin… it all feels like Burton emphatically imposing his artistic sensibilities onto Batman.

The film’s come in for some criticism over the years – I suspect because Bat-fans who loved the grit of the previous film didn’t like the whimsy and self-conscious artifice of Burton’s sequel. And in retrospect, the later Joel Schumacher films may have retroactively tainted Batman Returns in fans’ minds, by taking the film’s camp elements and dialling them up to eleven. But I find it rather appealing, because it’s so emphatically a Tim Burton film – moreso than the 1989 movie, Batman Returns is Burton’s vision of the Caped Crusader.