Telling a good story is harder than it looks. For that reason, filmmakers sometimes adapt the story from a classic movie for a new one. That may be especially true in the science-fiction realm. There's a long history of films taking a familiar story and putting a fresh spin on it by transitioning it to some kind of futuristic setting.
Doing this ensures the sci-fi movie is working from a story that's already been proven effective. It also affords filmmakers a springboard from which they can launch a few of their own ideas. They can create new characters and locations, while still having that solid base. In a way, the phenomenon is similar to how the works of William Shakespeare have been adapted over the decades. Without a doubt, some of your favorite sci-fi movies have a familiar feeling when you watch them because they've taken another picture as their inspiration.
Which of these science-fiction movies that are really just remakes of older classics makes the best use of its established story? Vote up your picks.
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
Groundhog Day had a truly one-of-a-kind plot. Or at least it was one of a kind until other filmmakers started co-opting its overall premise. Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a misanthropic weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop. Forced to relive February 2 again and again and again, he grows despondent, trying repeatedly to end his own life. When that doesn't work, he begins to learn how to become a better person so he can win the love of his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), to whom he's become attracted. Only after this phase of personal growth does he break the loop.
Edge of Tomorrow also puts its central character, William Cage (Tom Cruise), into a time loop. He's an officer who has never taken part in combat, and is therefore kind of afraid when he has to help defend Earth from an alien attack. Like Phil, he goes through multiple deaths in the course of his adventure and learns how to do what he needs to do through trial and error. Emily Blunt co-stars as the beautiful and highly skilled colleague who serves as his Rita - in fact, her name is also Rita, no sheer coincidence - inspiring him to persevere in finding a way out of the loop.Great sci-fi makeover?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Richard Connell's story "The Most Dangerous Game" was first adapted for the screen in 1932. The film follows Bob Rainsford, a game hunter who gets shipwrecked on an island. There, he meets the enigmatic Count Zaroff. The Count seems cordial at first, but then reveals a sinister side, forcing Rainsford and two other captives to take part in a sick life-or-death game in which he hunts them. The only way for them to survive is to turn the tables and try to foil him first.
The Most Dangerous Game has influenced various other films over the decades, with some staying very faithful to the story and others simply borrowing parts of it. One of those that just went with the general vibe is 1987's Predator. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, a soldier of fortune leading a team on a rescue mission in Guatemala. They expect human danger and are therefore stunned to discover an alien creature is in the jungle with them. Even worse, it's intent on hunting them down. (Unlike Zaroff, it can make itself invisible.) Dutch and crew piece together things they learn about the predator in order to defeat it before it wipes them all out.
As with its inspiration, Predator plays with the question of who is the hunter and who is the prey.Great sci-fi makeover?
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
George Lucas's 1977 space opera Star Wars is inarguably one of the most impactful films ever made. A genuine cultural phenomenon, it continues to have strong reverberations to this day. It tells the story of farmboy Luke Skywalker who gradually transitions into a Rebel leader after receiving an SOS from a kidnapped princess. He faces down the dreaded masked villian Darth Vader in the process.
If you've ever seen Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress, you undoubtedly noticed the similarities to Star Wars. The peasant characters Tahei and Matashichi get caught up in someone else's war, not unlike robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. Both movies have a princess in danger - Leia in Star Wars, Yuki in The Hidden Fortress. A veteran samurai named Makabe Rokurōta plays an important part in the action, similar to Obi-Wan Kenobi. And in those cases, the veteran eventually comes face-to-face in battle with his old nemesis. The primary difference here is that Rokurōta wins his fight, whereas Obi-Wan is felled by Darth Vader.
Lucas was a fan of Kurosawa's film and transplanted its structure into outer space to give his own movie a timeless feel.Great sci-fi makeover?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
High Noon is about Will Kane (Gary Cooper), the marshal in a small New Mexico town. He gets word his old nemesis, criminal Frank Miller, has been sprung from prison and is coming to exact revenge. Kane tries to round up some locals to assist him in defeating Miller again, only to discover they're too afraid to take part. If he wants this job done, he's going to have to do it himself. The movie builds to a dramatic climax as the two come face-to-face at noon. Kane is all too aware he might not survive, given Miller is bringing his gang with him.
Director Peter Hyams borrowed that general plot for his 1981 movie Outland. To mix things up, he set the tale in space. Sean Connery is William O'Niel, the marshal of a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons. He uncovers a conspiracy by the operation's general manager, Mark Sheppard (Peter Boyle), to feed workers a dangerous substance that increases their productivity. Sheppard eventually sends his gang to eliminate O'Niel, who manages to get the upper hand over them. Like Kane, he has a climactic confrontation with his enemy, which he manages to win through his sheer bravery.Great sci-fi makeover?