From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Ten Fantasy Movies that Deserve Remakes

Hollywood has a serious case of makeover mania, with adaptations of everything from Transformers to Wuthering Heights on the table. While studio execs are on the prowl for films to remake, I’d like to suggest some movies that could benefit from some updating, whose stories have more to tell, or who just plain deserve another chance.

1. Snow White: A Tale of Terror

A dark retelling of Snow White, getting back to the frightening roots that lurk beneath the Disneyfied fairy tales? I’m in! Sigourney Weaver as the wicked queen? Sign me up! Stars from Dawson’s Creek and Ally McBeal as the other two leads? That’s certainly…something. Exploring the darker side of fairy tales is a perfect way to tap into vampire lore without bringing in a knockoff Edward Cullen; just make sure you cast romantic leads who can act, and you’ll be all set!

2. The Black Cauldron

Sure, it’s fun, but out of the flood of kid-friendly quests of the 1980s, this one had the most room for improvement. (Set it next to The Dark Crystal, and you’ll see what I mean.) If The Frog Princess doesn’t do as well as Disney hopes, the studio might need a 2-D movie that’s got some built-in nostalgia. Note to studio execs: cut Gurgi and half your adaptation problems are solved.

3. Dark Kingdom: The Ring of the Nibelungs

Everyone loves a good mythology epic. Just not this one. (You can’t use every myth at once and draw it out for four hours; by hour three, people are going to figure out what you’re doing!) If you throw out the director’s notes and ditch Julian Sands, you should be on the right track.

4. Unico

Unico was a unicorn who brought so much happiness wherever he went that the gods became jealous and cast him into Oblivion. It’s your usual feel-good fantasy for the kiddos! This actually isn’t a bad movie; I put it on the list just in case Miyazaki feels like doing a remake and is looking around for material. He’d be the perfect director to carry over Unico’s dual optimism and melancholy.

5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Sometimes one bad casting spoils the whole barrel, even though the rest of the movie is great. Sometimes the script falls flat. Then sometimes, you get Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Christian Bale, Anna Friel, Kevin Kline, David Strathairn and Stanley Tucci in one movie, and you give them Shakespeare to recite, and it still doesn’t come together. All you can do is try again, and hope no one notices the donkey head.

6. FernGully: The Last Rainforest
This movie was more prescient than the White House about the effects of deforestation and environmental carelessness. Unfortunately, the great message got lost in a frighteningly 90s concept and seriously questionable execution. Give this to a studio that won’t shy away from the environmental angle (Pixar?), and update the threats for a world in the clutches of global warming and ripe for a remake. (I’m not counting FernGully 2 as a remake. I’m not even counting it as a movie. It was like a tax shelter with musical numbers.)

7. The Thirteenth Floor

Part of this movie’s problem was that it came out alongside The Matrix, and it’s hard to convince people that a virtual 1937 is a bigger draw than a virtual Carrie-Ann Moss in a pleather catsuit. The other part is that the plot didn’t quite hold together. Try to make the plot make sense sometime; it’s fun! However, the time has never been better for an exploration of the worth and ethics of virtual reality, so for anyone who can make this more than a holodeck episode – go for it!
Check out the trailer.

8. A Wrinkle in Time

Bad news: A Wrinkle in Time is a hard book to adapt. Good news: someone already tried it, casting wildly and tossing in subpar flying-horse effects when needed, so it can certainly be done. Great news: this movie was announced with so little fanfare that it hardly counts as a remake.

9. The Bride

A Frankenstein adaptation that explored the humanity of his monster and the Doctor’s own monstrosity definitely has a place in cinema history. The subplot about Doc’s monster (eventually given the name Victor) making his way through the world is touching and well-done. Unfortunately, Jennifer Beals and Sting hurling leaden quasi-feminist party lines at each other doesn’t make for gripping cinema. Bring back Clancy Brown, and start the rest from scratch.

10. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

What, a remake could be worse?

Genevieve Valentine is a writer in New York; her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Farrago’s Wainscot, Diet Soap, Journal of Mythic Arts, and Fantasy. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog. She is currently working on a formula to evaluate the awfulness of any given film, a scale that will be measured in Julians.

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