Memento and 8 other films that don’t need to be remade

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In news that will have Christopher Nolan aficionados gnashing their teeth, AMBI Pictures has announced that it plans to finance a remake of Memento, Nolan’s 2000 breakout hit.

Since it acquired Exclusive Media Group, AMBI Pictures now owns the rights to Nolan’s mind-bending thriller – along with those to Cruel Intentions, Donnie Darko and Sliding Doors – and it has greenlit Memento as its next project.

Aside from the obvious reason for a Memento remake – AMBI wants to make some money – the question this project raises is ‘why?’ Why remake Memento?

Not only is the film one of the best thrillers ever made, but there’s precious little a remake could add to it. The movie hasn’t aged a day, the performances are note-perfect and the themes it addresses were thoroughly examined back in 2000.

Every time news likes this drops it sounds as though Hollywood is running out of ideas. We can take the sequels, the reboots – we can even take the odd prequel – but could we please call time on taking the great films of yesteryear for another spin around the block in the name of making more lucre?

To that end, here’s a list of films we’d like to see left alone. We’re not against remakes in principle; indeed there are some re-imaginings that have made it to the screen that have actually improved on their source material by presenting a fresh view of it (Scarface and The Fly are two of the most  obvious examples).

But there are some films that simply don’t need rehashing; they were great on the day of release and have remained so ever since. Hands off!

The Godfather

Remaking Francis Ford Coppolla’s Oscar-winning Mafia epic would be a bad idea on so many levels. The Godfather is a powerhouse of a movie that has pretty much become culturally ingrained internationally as a classic.

Even if a movie production company was going to attempt a remake there is probably no way in hell that they’d assemble a cast who would turn in such a series of great performances. Oh, and this goes double for The Godfather Part II.

Back To The Future

Forget the DeLorean time machine. Forget Doc Brown. Forget The Power Of Love and Marty McFly hitching a ride to school by hanging off the back of a truck on his skateboard. These are all iconic parts of anyone’s silverscreen datapack, but they alone don’t explain why Back To The Future never needs to be remade.

The reason Back To The Future endures is that part of it is set back in what its audience believed was a simpler and more innocent time – which over the course of the film, was revealed not to be the case. No one had an easy time growing up and Back To The Future strips away this lie while staring into the past through rose-tinted glasses. A rare feat indeed.

The Matrix

The Matrix had such a profound impact on the action movie genre that it’s impossible to see what a remake could bring to it. The Wachowskis pretty much eclipsed every other action movie of 1999 with their dystopian cyber-noir thriller – and quite a few films in the years beyond.

Beyond its influence and even leaving aside its layered and compelling plot – which is smarter than any movie as action-packed as this has any right to be – the greatest argument against a remake is the fact that The Matrix feels as fresh and as culturally relevant today as it did when it first hit theatres over sixteen years ago. How many films can you say that about?

The Cabin In The Woods

Drew Goddard’s comedy horror film is equal parts a celebration and a searing critique on the horror genre. Essentially, it’s a film made by people who were both in love and are fed up with horror films in general.

The set-up, contrivances, monsters and characters all hit beats that are familiar to horror fans, but the genius of the The Cabin In The Woods is how it still manages to toy with the audience’s expectations while adding a sly undercurrent of satire throughout. Everything that needs to be said about the horror genre was covered in this film’s 90-odd minutes. It doesn’t really need to be said again.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Sometimes the strength of a movie is wrapped up completely in its leading man (or lady); some actors are just born to play certain parts and re-casting them for a remake removes what made the whole venture worthwhile in the first place.

Case in point is Jim Carrey’s star-making turn as Ace Ventura. The movie is slapstick and it’s bonkers, but what anchors the whole affair is Jim Carrey’s off-the-wall performance as the titular pet dick. Carrey didn’t play Ace as a buffoon or an inept berk who lucked his way into any developments in the case at the centre of the plot. Carrey’s Ace, rather, was a maniacal eccentric who actually was a pretty damn good detective, and it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job with this role.

The Goonies

Aside from being a precious touchstone from the youth of… well… nearly everyone over the age of about 25, The Goonies feels gloriously too out of sync with the present to make a remake feasible. To wit, it’s hard to believe that in a world dominated by Peppa Pigg, consoles, iPads and smartphones that there are all that many kids who would go searching for buried treasure in their neighbourhood.

We’d love to corrected on that, but even if we are wrong, a remake of The Goonies would probably star some of the obnoxious brats from the Disney Channel, and no one wants to see that.

Fight Club

You could argue that the themes explored in Fight Club – both David Fincher’s 1999 movie and the Chuck Palahniuk novel it’s based on – are timeless enough to warrant re-examining at some stage. Those themes, incidentally, have less to do with thirty-something ennui and anti-consumerism and more to do with male posturing – the notion of the ‘ideal male projection’ is wrapped up in fantasy to the point of being both unrealistic and ridiculous. Every guy at some stage has wanted to be Tyler Durden… until they grow up.

That having been said, if Hollywood is going to give Fight Club the remake treatment, it has its work cut out. Leaving aside Fincher’s swoon-worthy vision and the drum tight screenplay courtesy of Jim Uhls, Fight Club sees its two leads, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton right at the top of their game. Norton arguably hasn’t been this good in anything since, and Pitt is absolutely perfect as Durden, the fantasy projection of every man-child.

Blade Runner

No. Just, no.

  • Did we leave any out? What other classics would you rather not see remade? Tell us in the comment section below.

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