This is question posed by William, of the Warthog Report (yes, this meerkat found himself a warthog acquaintance, a Pumba to my Timon, or a William to my Ben, if preferred). William has inspired two consecutive prompts, this being the first: What are some rereleases and remakes of works you like that deeply bother you?
The first example to come to mind is a film that became something of a legend in my house, for all the wrong reasons. My wife and I are both fans of The Mummy films, or to be more precise, we both quite thoroughly enjoy the trilogy of films featuring Brendan Fraser. These films evoke a certain classical, adventurous spirit, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are enjoyable romps, in no small part due to the natural charm of Brendan Fraser, as I said in a 2017 post on this very subject.
Contrast with the ultimately abandoned effort of Universal Studios to build a ‘monster universe’ film series, starting with a remake of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. The greatest praise my wife and I could pay this film is that it was ‘not awful’, though in fact, it was. It was certainly awful in comparison to the Fraser-era films. I like Tom Cruise in the Mission: Impossible films, and his stunt work is always exhilarating, but the cold persona of his character in this remake, and the film’s lack of energy, excitement or heart, left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed by the experience.
The trouble with a remake is that you are often treading on sacred ground. Fans of an original film or series can be very protective of what they love. I am a huge fan of The Lion King (shocking right?), and when Disney announced they were remaking the 1994 classic, I was faced with a mixture of giddy anticipation, and anxious trepidation. I wouldn’t say The Lion King is special to me: it’s much more important than that!
Could the remake, released some 25 years later, and utilising some of the most sophisticated CGI technology ever created for film, capture the emotional intensity of the original? To this meerkat, the answer was no. That is not to say the remake was a bad film, because it wasn’t, but then again, I think I enjoyed it as much as I did, because I watched it through the filter of the original. I can’t help but suspect that had I watched it in isolation, the remake would have felt flat. Adults might get the emotional nuances present in the 2019 film; kids would not.
Another Disney remake was Aladdin. The 1992 original greatly benefited from Robin Williams’ energy and enthusiasm. There’s no question the Genie stole the show. There’s a reason that Aladdin (along with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King) is associated with one of Disney’s greatest eras. The 2019 remake… well, it was not memorable, at least not to me.
That’s not say that remakes can’t work. As I kid, I enjoyed DuckTales. As an adult, I greatly enjoyed the 2017 DuckTales reboot, and might even go as far to say that the reboot is superior to the original show. However, that show seems to be the outlier among remakes. A lot of the time, at least to this meerkat, remakes don’t tend to find their mark.