Certain decades are defined by a certain type of film.
For example, when you think of the eighties, films like Top Gun, Back to the Future, and The Lost Boys come to mind. Optimistic, simple, fit for mass consumption.
The seventies was an era of slick crime dramas like The Godfather and disturbing character studies like Taxi Driver, as well as more upbeat pictures like Saturday Night Fever.
But what defines 2010s cinema?
In simple terms, it is unoriginality.
Take a look at films released this year and you get things like Child’s Play, Toy Story 4, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
It isn’t very difficult to see the trend here. Sequels are Hollywood’s current safe bet for making a profit, alongside adaptations of comics and novels, as well as the subject of discussion today: remakes.
We are in the midst of the least inspiring era of Disney films, in which most of the conglomerates releases are CGI and/or live action reworkings of their classic animations, mostly from the Silver (1950-59) and Renaissance (1989-99) periods.
Occasionally, this is understandable; looking back, The Jungle Book (1967) had a very slow, uninteresting plot.
The 2016 remake of this film added plot points, brought its characters to life with beautiful, awe-inspiring photo-realistic CGI, and even told the story from a different perspective in which the villainous tiger Shere Khan was right about the destructive power of man.
There was a reason for this movie to exist: so that Disney could improve upon one of its animated classics.
However, the more recent The Lion King (2019) is a completely different animal. A family member went to see it recently, and when I questioned her about what she thought of it, she said: “It’s exactly the same as the cartoon.”
She described how nothing had been added to the plot, and even the cinematography was similar in most places.
For example, the zoom away from Simba as Mufasa falls into the canyon is recreated in the remake.
Why can’t Disney, a company with a net worth of $130 billion, take any risks with its filmmaking anymore? It’s not like they have anything to lose.
Their struggles of the mid-20th century are over, so why can’t they stop creating safe cash grabs and do something different?
They managed it in The Jungle Book remake, but in recent years their films have bled dry of originality completely.
In no particular order, here are some of the worst remakes, sequels or adaptations that have come out in recent years, judged both by its quality and reason (or lack thereof) for existing.
It is rather sad that these are amongst the types of films the 2010s will be remembered for.
Alice Through the Looking Glass, 2016
Watching this film was an unnerving experience. It felt like a major departure from the tone of the first film, descending from its gothic, eerie atmosphere into something feverish, more “family-friendly” and bewildering.
I could barely watch this movie without mulling over how little it needed to exist, as well as how frankly terrible it was.
Murder on the Orient Express, 2017
An upsetting waste of a brilliant cast. Unfortunately, having almost 10 A-listers in your film does not instantly make it good (a trap that films like the underwhelming Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018) falls into, which sported Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie, Asa Butterfield and Peaky Blinders star Finn Cole in its cast).
I actually did not know the twist at the end of the film, but when it played out on screen, I didn’t feel anything. None of the film’s build-up had paid off, as I hadn’t felt invested in anything that was happening.
The Lion King, 2019
The original was already great. This film did not need to happen.
It took no risks in terms of changing or adding to elements of the plot to justify a remake, and reviewers online claim they were exhausted after the unjustified two-hour runtime.
Zoolander 2, 2016
Nominated for eight Razzie Awards and winning one (Kristen Wiig as Worst Supporting Actress), the Zoolander sequel is embarrassing when compared to its predecessor.
The jokes are unfunny and forced at its worst, getting a brief, lukewarm chuckle at its best. Plus, most of the gags centre on mocking women and LGBTQ people, which is a risky way to get a laugh – a risk which does not pay off here.
Total Recall, 2012
Total Recall is part of the wave of movie remakes from the 80s and 90s, with a newly serious tone and more of a blockbuster format.
Not only is this remake a complete shift in tone from the original, with only a few half-hearted attempts at jokes and a sober, uninspired dystopian world, it is almost incoherent in its execution.
The plot is messy, confusing, and too boring to truly get annoyed with.