Top 10 Classic Film Franchises Continued In The 21st Century, For Better Or Worse

Tags: #Terminator ,   #MovieRemakes ,   #Ghostbusters ,   #Predator

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2022-01-13 17:21:00

There is an ongoing trend in filmmaking you probably noticed. Yes, remakes, reboots, and sequels of famous movie franchises overflowed the market in recent years. This remaking trend might seem irritating to viewers, but there are several good reasons filmmakers opt for it. First and foremost, there is security. A movie franchise with an established audience has more chances to succeed than a brand new project. Ironically, the success of these "safe" undertakings allows filmmakers to put some budget into the experimental movies. Without further ado, these are some of the most notable remakes of classic movies made in this century. Be noted, the list is in chronological order. 

10. Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Ensemble cast of superstars in the movie about a robbery

Let's start the century with a 2001 remake of "Ocean's Eleven." The original movie was an ensemble cast of superstars from the 1960s, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. The main character is Danny Ocean (Sinatra), a former prisoner plotting the great robbery with his ten accomplices. 

Forty-something years later, Steven Sodheberg reimagined it with the most recognizable contemporary movie stars. Instead of Frank Sinatra, we got George Clooney, with the rest of the cast equally stellar: Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, and many more. This glossy and glamorous remake vastly outshines the original.   

9. Insomnia (2002)

Amazing turn of the career for the great comedian

"Insomnia" is the movie that put Christopher Nolan on the map of the most accomplished directors. Not many people know that this is a remake of a 1998 Swedish movie with the same name. The selling points are the gripping, tense atmosphere and fantastic performance of Robin Williams as a psycho killer playing mind games with Al Pacino's detective.

This wasn't the first Williams' psycho role, as he portrayed a deranged photographer in that year's "One Hour Photo." This movie puts his character in the perpetual daytime of Alaska. Al Pacino's detective comes to solve the multiple murders case, only to get stressed out by the inability to sleep. In that state, he starts losing track of time, which also transfers to the audience. All that makes viewing "Insomnia" a great, albeit dark, experience.  

8. The Departed (2006)

A remake that got Scorsese an Oscar

Martin Scorsese created some of the most amazing movies of all time. Therefore, it's a big surprise that the only movie he was awarded an Oscar for was a remake of the Chinese "Infernal Affairs." "The Departed" isn't a bad movie at all, though. This thrilling story about the game of cat and mouse in crime-ridden Boston ensembled a formidable cast in front and behind the camera.

Both movies depict the mind game between an undercover cop and a mole in police forces. As the movie goes on, they both try to identify each other while sabotaging their supposed bosses. Although the plot is almost identical, those two movies couldn't be more different in style. The Chinese original is a mixture of action and melodrama, while Scorsese focused on characters and action.  

7. True Grit (2011)

Oscar-worthy performance of the old cowboy

The original "True Grit" was a John Wayne's Oscar vehicle, and his role of Rooster Cogburn is a classic. However, the movie itself is a bit naive and too black and white, with perfect heroes on one side and one-dimensional villains on the other. That's why the Coen brothers' remake changed the biggest flaw of the original - the lack of flavor and convictions. 

Coen brothers are familiar with western landscapes, as seen in "Blood Simple" and "No Country for the Old Men." This would be their first pure-blooded Western movie, and what a movie it is! The remake has the ironic and darkly comic touch of famous directors, accentuated by the fantastic performances of Jeff Bridges and Haylee Steinfield. This is an excellent example of a modernized remake that kept all the good things intact.  

6. Total Recall (2012)

See you at the party, Kate

"Total Recall," made by Paul Verhoeven in 1990, was inspired by Phillip K. Dick's book. Contrary to the subtlety of the great writer, the movie was a gritty and violent action-adventure led by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was pure madness with plot holes and bullet holes everywhere alike, but it was also greatly popular and even predicted future. Popular enough to earn a remake, at least. 

Len Wiseman, known for the Underworld series, helmed this new version and did a modern makeover to the classic story. First of all, the movie looks different visually, more gritty, and dark. Verhoeven's satire and criticism of American society, especially corporate greed, were nowhere to be found. Also, Wiseman replaced the maddening violence of the original with the stylish, teenage-oriented action. Is the remake a bad movie? Not by itself, but don't expect to see all the things that made the original good.  

5. Robocop (2014)

I wouldn't buy that for a dollar

"Robocop" is another Paul Verhoeven masterpiece about a dystopian future riddled with crime, corporate greed, and violent outbursts. The story about an excellent cop-turned-machine hit the jackpot with the audience, and the movie got several sequels before slowly fading away. However, themes and satire of the futuristic corporational society made "Robocop" movies relevant for a long time. Therefore, Alex Murphy got into a robot suit once more in 2014.

Although the new "Robocop" is nothing more than a cash-in riding on the wave of remakes from the beginning of the 2010s, we can't help but notice something interesting. While the original movie doesn't let up with the corporate satire, the remake is more a superhero origins story about the guy who gets his humanity back and overcomes the adversities. 

4. Jungle Book (2016)

Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games

The old "Jungle Book" cartoon was one of Disney's best movies, with a legendary cast and memorable songs. Its only flaw we could think of is being a lot brighter and cheerful than Rudyard Kipling's book. However, Disney regularly takes the not-for-everyone source material and adapts it into kids-friendly movies. The 2016 remake of "Jungle Book," directed by John Favreau, brought those dark undertones from the books into the movie.

It wasn't an easy task to balance the light and musical nature of the original cartoon with the darker impulses of Kipling's book. However, Favreau did it flawlessly, walking the most delicate line like an acrobat. What we got is a gripping and compelling story about the boy trying to survive in the wilderness. Both the fans of the book and the cartoon were quite satisfied with the outcome. 

3. Predator (2018)

If it bleeds, we can milk it

Over the last three decades, the "Predator" franchise has seen its share of ups and downs. There are many movies of varying qualities, from acceptable to forgettable. There are direct sequels, prequels, side stories, and tie-ins with other famous sci-fi franchises. Speaking of those, there's a stark difference between the rival "Alien" and "Predator" movies. While the former is the creeping space horror, the latter is an action-packed flick with elements of comedy. 

Like Xenomorphs, "Predator" creatures, known as Yautja, traveled to various worlds but with different ambitions. While Xenomorphs wanted to reproduce, Yautja sought worthy opponents to kill and make trophies. In a couple of movies, these two creatures clashed to different results. However, it says a lot when we know those are the weakest films in the franchise. One thing is sure; the "Predator" franchise is getting a staggeringly inconsistent treatment on-screen.  

2. Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

There's no fate but the bad sequels we make

"Terminator" is one of the most beloved science fiction franchises of all time. It owes its legendary status to the first two movies, setting new standards for successful sci-fi horror. However, with the recent attempt to revive the interest in the "Terminator" movies, it became clear that the sequels shouldn't have been made after the first two. 

James Cameron got the idea about a time-traveling killing robot from the future from a nightmare he once had. Hence, he made a low-budget indie horror movie, which became a cult classic. Despite having the same elements as the original, the sequel was all about the action, becoming one of the most beloved movies of the nineties. Like its titular character, the Terminator franchise seems indestructible, with numerous tries to revive it. Unfortunately, all of them ultimately failed, and most of the fans pretended the franchise ended with the second installment.

1. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Remember not to cross the streams

The newest continuation of a popular franchise comes from the end of 2021. Evidently, "Ghostbusters" is the most beloved movie for entire generations. The reason for that was mixing several genres at once - action, horror, and comedy. Add a stellar cast of comedic actors, and you'll get Hollywood gold. The first two movies are no short of classics, and they earned their place in our most cherished memories of the 80s. But after them, things got quiet. 

 Of course, no one should expect that a franchise about ghosts would stay dead forever. The first attempt at reviving the series happened with the reboot in 2016. However, that's the movie we don't like to talk about. The controversy and negative reception canceled all the plans about developing the franchise in that direction. Instead, we got a direct sequel to the second movie, with the kids of the main characters as the protagonists. In a way, "Afterlife" was a heartwarming send-off to the old "Ghostbusters" movies and the entire 1980s. Although, it leaves room for another sequel.

Now, those were some of the famous franchises that continued in this century, one way or another. The law of large numbers suggests that some of the many remakes, reboots, and sequels would be great. Luckily, they are, but plenty of them are disappointing.

So, what do you say? Which of these movies is your favorite? What classic movies would you like to see remade in modern style?


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