Saturday, January 22, 2011

Remakes versus the original--A True Grit retrospective

I went and saw True Grit last weekend at the theater.  I had seen much review and ado about how this movie was going to be SO much better than the original.  The Coen brothers stuck to the original work by Arkansas native Charles Portis more closely.  Jeff Bridges was going to be a better Rooster Cogburn than John Wayne was.  The scenes would be more realistic.  The characters better.  By the time I got through the reviews, it was hard to remember that The Duke won his only Oscar in this movie!  As someone that has seen a LOT of movies, I will say that the remake of True Grit was a good movie.  However, I still found the original to be a better movie overall.  Jeff Bridges did a good job in his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, but more than once it sounded to me like he was trying to make him sound like Billy Bob's character of Carl in "Sling Blade."  I kept waiting for Bridges to say, "How much you want fer them french friend pertaters, mmm hmmm?"  You can't beat Robert Duvall as Ned Pepper, and frankly, I thought the young girl in the first movie was better than the second, if only slightly. 

The remake was better in a couple of areas.  First, Josh Brolin's portrayal of Tom Chaney was much better than the original.  He brought a sinister quality to the character that was lacking in the first one.  Second, the scenery was much closer to the book than the first.  The novel was set in the east of Oklahoma/Fort Smith areas and the Coen's stuck to that look very well.  The original movie looked like it was shot somewhere in the lower Rockies.  Good job Coen's on remaking a classic, but this writer prefers the Duke's version hands down. 

So this thought spurred another.  What remakes ARE better than the original?  Hollywood seems to be running out of original ideas at times, hence the large number of remakes that are put out every year.  Do them well and you have a fan here, do them poorly and off into trash bin please.  Did I just read that they are remaking "Footloose" and "Red Dawn?"  Please, someone stop THAT madness now.  My top 5 movies in which the remake surpassed the original are as follows:

1,  The Thomas Crown Affair.  The remake was sleek and sexy, Pierce Brosnan was a stylish Art Thief/multi-gozillionaire.  In the originial, Steve McQueen robbed a bank.  Nothing too stylish there.  Throw in a very heated over-40 sex scene (let's here it for people of a certain age!) and the remake wins hands down.

2. Oceans Eleven.  Yes the original with the Brat Pack rocked.  Yes, Sinatra and Martin are the essence of cool.  I never have figured out the Sammy Davis Jr. thing.  I mean, yes he can sing and dance, but beyond that, he's "The Candy Man" guy.  Who can take a rainbow.....sorry, I digress.  The original shows what Vegas used to be like.  The remake shows the big business that it is today.  Again, the remake is more stylish and I haven't seen many on screen pairings where the timing is as good as between Brad Pitt and George Clooney in this film. 

3.  3:10 to Yuma.  Again, loved the original.  The remake was better.  Christian Bale and Russell Crowe bring more depth to their characters than in the original.  The shooting was pretty good too!

4.  Cape Fear.  Robert DeNiro plays a pyschopathic bad guy. Do you really think anyone does it better than him?  Enough said...

5.  The Maltese Falcon.  Okay, unless you are a HUGE movie buff, you probably wouldn't know that Bogey's version wasn't the original.  The Maltese Falcon came out first in 1931, but as Bogart's version is one of the top Ten movies of all time, it has to be on this list. 

Agree or disagree?  Other movies to add?  Would love to hear what you think! 

1 comment:

  1. Okay I love the original True Grit, and I thought this one was good but a little slow at times.
    But I think I like this girl better. I did notice that you forgot the whole Glenn or Matt argument.
    To be honest I think the perfect movie would be Wayne in this movie. But I agree that you need Duval as Pepper.
    As someone that has seen alot of movies. I have to disagree with a couple of your remakes.
    First thomas crown was good but Brosnan can't hold a candle to McQueen. The first version is so much cooler.
    Ocean's Eleven is so different I wouldn't really consider it a remake. The only thing that is the same is the name and location.

    One of my favorite remakes is Ransom. The original just didn't seem to have the same suspense.