The 20 Best Movie Remakes & Reboots

Apr 6, 2020

Category: Entertainment

In this day and age, it seems a bit like every other movie that hits theaters is either a sequel, a remake, or a “reboot” (which are really just remakes, themselves). It’s almost like all of Hollywood has run out of ideas. And while much of it can seem like so much noise, there are rare occasions where, even with remakes, we get some fresh concepts or ideas.

In fact, sometimes these revisits and/or recreations are actually better than the originals — be that because of new twists, poignant commentary, the talents of up-and-coming actors and storytellers, or otherwise. Whether you’re looking for a new spin on one of our favorite stories or you just want to skip to the best version of a familiar flick, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best movie remakes and reboots you can watch right now.

3:10 to Yuma

2007

While the original version of this flick, which was released back in 1957, was a solid western drama, the modern interpretation is far more approachable and, comparatively, is aging better. While the plot hits all the same points — a broke rancher is tasked with delivering a captured outlaw gang leader to the train station for a train to Yuma leaving at, you guessed it, 3:10 — it’s the performances and cinematography that set the new one apart. And though the two leads (Christian Bale as the rancher and Russell Crowe as the outlaw) are certainly exceptional, the highlight of the flick might actually be the sinister performance of Ben Foster as Charlie Prince (Crowe’s right-hand man). Whatever the case, if you’re a fan of run-and-gun cowboy flicks, this is not one to miss.

Director: James Mangold
Length: 2h 2min
Rating: R

Batman Begins

2005

Batman, the comic book hero, has been rebooted several times over at this point — including another upcoming reboot with Matt Reeves in the director’s seat and Robert Pattinson in the titular role. But our favorite (as well as the favorite of legions of fans of the Dark Knight) absolutely has to be Christopher Nolan’s take. That started with 2005’s Batman Begins, which introduced us to Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Liam Neeson as his mentor-turned-villain Ra’s al Ghul. It was a grittier take than its neon 1990s predecessors but was also a good deal more grounded than Tim Burton’s lauded flicks from the 1980s. Most importantly, however, it paved the way for its follow-up, The Dark Knight, and Heath Leger’s unrivaled performance as Batman’s number one nemesis, the Joker.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Length: 2h 20min
Rating: PG-13

Cape Fear

1991

Most people know Martin Scorsese for his numerous crime dramas which, most often, focus on elements of the Italian-American mafia. But if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that he’s branched out numerous times. One of those times resulted in a collaboration with one of the director’s favorite actors, Robert De Niro, on the 1991 feature-film Cape Fear. Based on a 1962 film of the same name, the ’91 flick follows the exploits of convicted rapist Max Cady following a 14-year stint in federal prison, as he tracks down the lawyer who represented him in court (Nick Nolte) and his family. To say that De Niro’s take on Cady is chillingly unsettling is perhaps an understatement. The remake was so impactful, in fact, that The Simpsons even made a tribute episode in which Bart Simpson is being tracked down by the recently-released clown-hating convict, Sideshow Bob.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Length: 2h 8min
Rating: R

Casino Royale

2006

As it stands right now, there have been 26 different James Bond films, with the titular super-spy played by nine different actors over the years. And while most might suggest that Sean Connery or Roger Moore have done Bond justice the best, there’s no denying the success and impact of the latest actor’s work. That all started back in 2006 when Daniel Craig donned the black suit for the first time ever in the remake of Casino Royale. Directed by Martin Campbell, the basic plot for the story remains largely the same as the 1967 original — which was, itself, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bon novel. Thankfully, however, the rest of the flick, from the cinematography to Bond’s character traits, was quite a departure. It was a brilliant move, renovating Bond’s first adventure to introduce a grittier no-nonsense take on the movie spy and it spawned another four movies largely met with critical acclaim and financial success — including the upcoming No Time To Die, which is set to be Craig’s final appearance.

Director: Martin Campbell
Length: 2h 24min
Rating: PG-13

Dawn of the Dead

2004

Zombie movies have been a staple of cinema since, well, Victor Halperin’s White Zombie from 1932. Since then, there have been dozens of takes on the genre, some more successful than others. One of the best, however, was 2004’s Dawn of the Dead — a spine-chilling reboot of George A. Romero’s 1978 original, which itself was actually a sequel to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead from 1968. And while the flick is a bloody good time and has actually aged quite well, all things considered, the most interesting thing about this particular version is that it was helmed by none other than director Zack Snyder, who you may know from his other famous works including 300, Watchmen, and DC’s Man of Steel. While the movie doesn’t do anything new with its take on the undead (Romero actually had sprinting zombies in his original movie), the strengths can be found in the surviving humans and their stories.

Director: Zack Snyder
Length: 1h 41min
Rating: R

The Departed

2006

Another spectacular film from Martin Scorsese, it might surprise some folks to discover that The Departed isn’t actually an original concept, but rather a remake/reboot of a film from Hong Kong called Infernal Affairs, which was released back in 2002. However, the Dicaprio, Damon, and Nicholson-starring American version is both more approachable for English-speaking audiences and is original enough that it garnered an Academy Award for Best Picture back when it first hit screens worldwide. Interestingly, this remake centers around a fictionalized version of Whitey Bulger, an Irish-American crime boss and FBI informant who terrorized the greater Boston area of Massachusetts for years. While this flick most-definitely takes plenty of liberties with the historical information, it’s no less a spectacular crime drama as only Scorsese can craft.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Length: 2h 31min
Rating: R

Dredd

2012

We were first introduced to the dystopian comic book world of Judge Dredd back in 1977. However, in 1995, the deadpan, seemingly-humorless anti-hero made his way to the silver screen for the first time in a flick starring Sylvester Stallone, Diane Lane, and (shockingly) Rob Schneider. The imaginative world was not enough to save the film, as it was critically-panned and, as it stands now, has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 17%. However, the character got another shot at the big time in 2012, with a new take on the comic book starring Karl Urban as the titular character and Lena Heady (Game of Thrones) as his foil. Though it did not pick up much steam, the reboot — titled simply Dredd — was a far-superior film that properly did the character justice (no pun intended). It’s a bloody good time that should be a superb watch for those who appreciate fictional apocalyptic futures.

Director: Pete Travis
Length: 1h 35min
Rating: R

Evil Dead

2013

Remaking a classic, even a cult one, is always an extremely risky venture. For success, the spirit of the franchise must remain intact, but filmmakers also need to introduce new ideas or twists to keep it fresh and avoid morphing the world into a shot-for-shot remake (like the questionable-at-best Psycho redux from 1998). If any film manages this as beautifully as it is bloody, it’s 2013’s Sam Raimi-approved horror romp, Evil Dead. The story is still largely the same as the original — a group of friends trek to a cabin in the woods where they inadvertently awaken a race of demons who begin to possess them and kill them one by one — however, there’s enough novelty to keep it fresh and, frankly, bone-chilling. This new version is a bit more grown-up, doing away with some of the campiness of the original, and hinges on the brilliant performance of Jane Levy in what may be her best role (Don’t Breathe is a close second).

Director: Fede Alvarez
Length: 1h 31min
Rating: R

Godzilla

2014

Godzilla is one of the biggest and most successful franchises in Japanese film history, boasting a whopping 32 films to-date. In 1998, Toho granted the rights to make an American Godzilla flick for the first time and, while it made a whopping $379 million worldwide, it was not well-received by longtime fans of the King of the Monsters nor the bulk of critics. It wouldn’t be until 2014 that another American Godzilla flick was made — this one starring none other than Brian Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen. By every measure, the 2014 remake was better, garnering a worldwide gross of $529 million, a solid critical reception (75% on RT, compared to its predecessor’s 16%), and even kicked off a new cinematic universe that’s to culminate in an upcoming King Kong vs. Godzilla movie. For fans of big-budget kaiju films, this western take is second only to, perhaps, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

Director: Gareth Edwards
Length: 2h 3min
Rating: PG-13

Halloween

2007

Michael Meyers, who has appeared in a whopping 13 films to-date, is one of the most iconic movie villains of all time. And while some of those films are questionable at best in regards to their quality, the best of the entries in the series (besides, obviously, John Carpenter’s original) has got to be Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot. Like many of these reboots, the story remains mostly the same — Meyers, an unstable patient at a mental institution, escapes and goes on a killing rampage in the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois — but there are some noteworthy differences, as is necessary to keep things interesting. For instance, Zombie’s take dives deeper into Meyers’ motives, his overall psyche and the significance of his signature mask, and more. This remake was successful enough to garner a sequel, however, its follow-up couldn’t quite capture the same magic as its predecessor.

Director: Rob Zombie
Length: 1h 49min
Rating: R

It

2017

People, especially the younger crowd, might not realize that the first “film” version of Stephen King’s It was actually a made-for-TV miniseries. That being said, Tim Curry’s version of Pennywise the killer clown is undoubtedly heralded as a classic interpretation that, for many of us old enough to have seen it, doled out nightmares for years and years. And while it definitely didn’t age well, it did give Stephen King fans a bit of pause when it became apparent they’d be remaking it for the silver screen. Luckily, all those fears were dashed once 2017’s It: Part I hit theaters. Between the inspired young actors that filled out the Loser’s Club and Bill Sarsgaard’s absolutely unsettling take on Pennywise, this reboot righted all the wrongs of the original miniseries and somehow managed to be both bone-chillingly scary and remarkably heartfelt. The follow-up (and conclusion) was also quite spectacular.

Director: Andy Muschietti
Length: 2h 15min
Rating: R

The Jungle Book

2016

Disney has been steadily remaking their animated classics as live-action flicks for several years now, with mixed critical results (but a tremendous amount of financial success). Of all of them, however, Jon Favreau’s inspired take on The Jungle Book from 2016 may very well be the best of them all. Unlike Aladdin or The Lion King, The Jungle Book’s source material, while classic, is not held in as high regard overall. And that made it much simpler to adapt and change without stepping on too many toes. Of course, it was also aided by a spectacular cast — including Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken as King Louie (amongst a slew of others) — and top-tier visuals. If you haven’t seen it, this one is definitely worth giving a chance. Just be careful not to accidentally put on the terrible 1994 version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story.

Director: Jon Favreau
Length: 1h 46min
Rating: PG

Kong: Skull Island

2017

King Kong, the distinctly-American giant monster flick from 1933, was (and still is) a cinematic masterpiece — thanks largely to the work of stop-motion animation wizard Willis O’Brien. It was also remade in 1976 (with Jeff Bridges in the leading role) and again in 2005 (by New Zealand’s Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame). However, both of those remakes did little to differentiate themselves from the source material, leading to them being mostly forgotten by today’s audiences. Kong: Skull Island, by contrast, took the story of a giant ape discovered on a small, uncharted isle and gave it a new spin — one that tied it into the same universe as Godzilla from the Japanese kaiju’s 2014 reboot. And while we’re waiting with bated breath to see the two cinematic monsters go toe-to-toe, this reboot certainly deserves its own recognition for helping break some of the played-out tropes of previous editions. It’s not flawless, but at least it’s trying to be more original.

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Length: 1h 58min
Rating: PG-13

The Magnificent Seven

1960

Yes, the classic western flick, The Magnificent Seven, is not an original concept. Rather, it’s an interpretation of a Japanese film called the Seven Samurai by legendary director Akira Kurosawa. In fact, aside from the setting, spoken language, and the weapons used in the film (six guns, as opposed to samurai swords), the movies are remarkably similar. That being said, there’s still a ton of value to be had in the English-speaking spaghetti western, as it is a beautiful rendition that’s perhaps more relatable and approachable to western audiences. That’s of course, further aided by the presence of The King of Cool, Steve McQueen, on the cast, as well as appearances by Yul Brinner, Charles Bronson, and even Robert Vaughn. There are few westerns, even in the modern era, to do it as well as this one — which speaks to just what an excellent remake/reboot it actually is.

Director: John Sturges
Length: 2h 8min
Rating: PG-13

The Mummy

1999

Few films are quite as far removed from their predecessor as 1999’s The Mummy — starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. However, this redux of the 1932 film of the same name still managed to do a good job of staying true to the source material whilst presenting a new, fresh take on it. In fact, this film might just be the best thing Brendan Fraser has ever done, though (for some) that might not be saying much. Either way, the unique blend of Egyptian mythology (though somewhat bastardized), gunslinging action, comedy, and even creepy-crawly horror elements makes for an extremely fun ride. And if you needed proof of its success, it spawned not just one, but two sequels — each one on a larger, more dire scope than the film that came before it. Granted, the sequels perhaps aren’t as sturdy as the 1999 remake, but that bar was set pretty high to begin with.

Director: Stephen Sommers
Length: 2h 4min
Rating: PG-13

Ocean's Eleven

2001

Creating a remake or reboot of a film is a lot like doing a cover of an old song. You want to do the original justice, but you don’t want to rehash it entirely. Similarly, it’s risky to take on a project you’re not certain you can improve. Luckily, Steven Soderbergh and his crew on 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven hit the sweet spot. From the top-notch cast — including huge names like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, etc. — to clever editing, to a top-notch twist on the classic heist flick, there’s a lot this film gets right and very little it does wrong. If we had to give it a critique, we might say that its biggest flaw is being a bit too knowing and/or tongue-in-cheek. But if you can get past the smugness, you’ll find a superb crime drama with enough heart and comedy to keep it from feeling too drab.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Length: 1h 56min
Rating: PG-13

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

2011

In 2001, Tim Burton released a fairly straightforward remake of Planet of the Apes starring Mark Wahlberg in the role of Captain Leo Davidson, a different take on the role formerly played by Charlton Heston. While not terrible, it also wasn’t particularly interesting — hinging too much on the original story and not capitalizing on its potential. That wrong was righted in 2011 with a vastly different take on the series. Starring Andy Serkis in an inspired performance as Caesar the chimpanzee opposite James Franco as human scientist Will Rodman, this movie focused on the origins of the PotA universe — detailing the beginnings of the end of humanity and the uprising of our primate counterparts — rather than rehashing the older stories. To say that Andy Serkis was snubbed for his performance at that year’s Academy Awards is definitely an understatement — one that, to this day, has not been righted.

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Length: 1h 45min
Rating: PG-13

Spider-Man: Homecoming

2017

When Sam Raimi and Tobey Macguire first brought Spider-Man to the modern silver screen, it gave several generations of comic book fans hope that superheroes could be done well on a cinematic scale. That was further solidified by the second entry. The third, however, was a critical failure of epic proportions. The first reboot in 2012 (The Amazing Spider-Man) was successful enough to get a sequel but was otherwise uninspired — as was its sequel. However, audiences were treated to a spectacular reboot in 2017 with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Starring Tom Holland as the ultra-smart, albeit goofy and socially awkward Peter Parker and Michael Keaton as his longtime foil, The Vulture (AKA Adrian Toomes), this film managed to shoehorn Spider-Man into the new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) brilliantly and seamlessly. And it’s follow-up was similarly successful, both financially and critically. Now, the character looks to be in production limbo, thanks to the fallout between Sony and Disney. But here’s to hoping Holland gets another shot at your friendly neighborhood web-slinger.

Director: Jon Watts
Length: 2h 13min
Rating: PG-13

The Thing

1982

As is the case with many of the better films on our list, The Thing is a remake that people might not know was actually a remake. That’s due in part to the fact that the original flick from 1951 was actually called The Thing from Another World. Based on a 1938 novella entitled Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, John Carpenter’s 1982 remake gets a lot of stuff right that its predecessor simply could not manage — be that because of the time at which it was made or the fact that Carpenter does horror better than even most modern storytellers. With a cast led by Kurt Russell, the 1982 version still hinges on the same basic concept — an alien creature is discovered frozen in ice outside of a remote outpost and subsequently is released to wreak havoc on the outpost’s residents — however, it plays much more with two of humanity’s most palpable emotions: fear and uncertainty. Like a sci-fi horror whodunnit, The Thing still holds up well today and is sure to be a treat for those who haven’t seen it. Unfortunately, the second reboot in 2011 was too much of a rehash to capture that same magic.

Director: John Carpenter
Length: 1h 49min
Rating: R

True Grit

2010

For western film fanatics, suggesting that anyone could remake a John Wayne movie and do it better than the original is practically heresy. That being said, if anyone was up to the task, it was the Coen brothers, as evidenced by their 2010 version of True Grit. Rather than John Wayne, this version starred Jeff Bridges (a Coen brothers’ favorite) as Rooster Cogburn — a one-eyed, trigger-happy lawman — who is hired by a plucky and smart-mouthed 14-year-old farm girl (Hailee Steinfeld) to avenge her father’s murder at the hands of an outlaw by the name of Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). Brilliantly blending classic gunslinging tropes, gallows humor, and fast-talking dialogue, this reimagining of a western classic is more than a worthy successor to its predecessor. In fact, it’s actually better across the board, and that’s saying a lot.

Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Length: 1h 50min
Rating: PG-13

The 40 Best Movie Villains Of All Time

A movie, remake or original, is only as good as its villain, you could say. And some villains are undoubtedly better at being bad than others. See how your favorite measures up on our list of the best movie villains of all time.

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