Technically, the latest version of The Thing is a prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, which was supposedly a remake, but more of a re-imagining of the original The Thing. But anyways...in honor of all these versions, we present our top 5 greatest, and top 5 lamest sci-fi remakes!
Worst Sci-Fi Remake #5 - Flash Gordon (1980)
Actually, there's good news and bad news to deliver about this '80s cheezwhiz vehicle. The good news is that it is intentionally campy and entertaining, and lead Sam J. Jones is an appropriately blank, bland but nonetheless capable action hero (he was also equally present and unmemorable as Bo Derek's beau in 10 before disappearing into the "whatever happened to" ether). The bad news is, well, the movie is still bad. Real bad. And not even a top notch Queen tune can disguise that fact.
Worst Sci-Fi Remake #4 - Planet of the Apes (2001)
Plenty of people will tell you that Mark Wahlberg was seriously miscast in M. Night Shyamalan's
latest sci-fi/thriller misfire The Happening. But Wahlberg looks equally lost
in space in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. Sure, Rick Baker's makeup
looks great and Burton does his best to give the yarn a fresh spin, but Wahlberg's astronaut and
that confounding ending just makes you go, "huh?" Although it was a box office success, Fox wisely opted
not to make a sequel.
Worst Sci-Fi Remake #3 - Lost in Space (1998)
Based on the '60s Irwin Allen-produced TV series, this late '90s high concept project brought
together an A-list cast (William Hurt, Mimi Rogers, Gary Oldman) and another open-ended prospect for
future sequels. The result...eh, stick to the TV show. Space Family Robinson works better on the
small screen, as does "Friend" Matt LeBlanc, who's much more convincing as funny Joey than as take
charge Major West.
Worst Sci-Fi Remake #2 - Godzilla (1998)
Matthew Broderick, who has appeared in classics like Glory, Ferris
Bueller's Day Off and Election, has also unfortunately been attached to some stinker
remakes like Inspector Gadget, The Stepford Wives and the
monster of them all, Godzilla. It's hard to say which part of this big-screen bust
stands out as the worst. The screenplay? The effects? The acting? The bad Ebert & Siskel
parody (NY's mayor's named Ebert and his assistant is Gene...ok)? This
isn't Godzila. It's godawful.
Worst Sci-Fi Remake #1 - Rollerball (2002)
The king of the bad sci-fi remakes - and really, was the original even that good? - is
Rollerball, a box office and critical dud that even co-star LL Cool J admited "sucked." The
plot has something to do with a combo roller-demolition derby team in Kazakhstan (no, really), but
it's just an excuse to throw together a bunch of bad action sequences, equally horrid leather
jumpsuits, lame techno heavy metal and a scarred-up Rebecca Romijin-Stamos. Remember Chris Klein,
the guy from American Pie? That's ok, after starring in this, no one in Hollywood did,
either. (Like Broderick, though, check him out in Election, a film that's about two billion
times better). Ok, enough of the remakes that blow. Here are five that hopefully the latest
adaptations coming your way will aspire to...
Best Sci-Fi Remake #5 - I Am Legend (2007)
While it was a huge hit, and the critics were favorable - it rated 69% fresh
on Rotten Tomatoes - we still think I Am Legend is somewhat underrated in the pantheon of
sci-fi remakes. Despite some shaky CGI effects here and there, director Francis Lawrence (who also
helmed the somewhat underrated Constantine) creates an eerily quiet, believable and spookily
empty New York, in which star Will Smith roams around in, accompanied by only his loyal and
dependable german shepherd. He's the last
man standing, and over the course of the movie, makes you feel exactly what that means.
Best Sci-Fi Remake #4 - War of the Worlds (2005)
Here's another pick that many may dispute, but take another look. Spielberg and Cruise are firing on
all cylinders in this update, which forgoes the big fight scenes to provide a more intimate look at
what an "aliens invading the earth" scenario would mean to the average joe and his family. The
director ratchets up the tension as only he can, and Cruise is utterly believable as the lackluster dad who is forced to pull it together for his two kids under the most extreme
circumstances. A telling note: while the bad media Cruise generated with his controversial behavior
off screen had already hit the airwaves, it didn't stop this from being a hit with moviegoers and
Best Sci-Fi Remake #3 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Like your sci-fi remakes ultra paranoid and creepy? Check out this late '70s version of the 1956
original. The pod people are taking over San Francisco, and as Donald Sutherland and his fellow
colleague Brooke Adams quickly discover, not much may be done about it. The special effects here are
fairly sickening - that's meant in a good way - and it's especially fun to watch a young Jeff
Goldblum and dear 'ol Spock Leonard Nimoy as pod people out stumping a message that's
clearly not "live long and prosper."
Best Sci-Fi Remake #2 - The Fly (1986)
On the subject of Jeff Goldblum, his career highlight - and one of the best films from master of the sick
and creepy, David Cronenberg - has to be this update of The Fly. The story of a scientist
whose teleportation device accidentally changes him into a literal, over-sized fly, couldn't be more
gooey, gorey, disgusting and otherwise repugnant. At the same time, it's absolutely fascinating, and mesmerizing to watch the tragic romantic meltdown between man-becoming-fly Goldblum and
trapped-in-his-icky insect-claws lover Geena Davis.
Best Sci-Fi Remake #1 - John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)
The undisputed king of sci-fi, horror and any other remake is John Carpenter's The Thing,
which has only grown in stature every year since its 1982 release. This
mother-of-all-remakes has it all, and does what the very best remake should do...it is arguably
better than its source film, the Howard Hawks/Christian Nyby classic, The Thing from Another
World. Top notch story? Check. Well written, directed and acted? Check. Amazing visual effects?
Got it. Unforgettable music score? No problem. Best of all, in this movie fan's opinion, is Kurt
Russell's can-do, everyman hero/helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady. A career best for the actor,
and ditto for sci-fi/horror auteur John Carpenter. Those looking to one-up a sci-fi classic with a
sci-fi remake must first look here.