It’s no secret that Hollywood loves a remake. While some are successful, enlightening a new generation to a classic, they can often end badly, delivering subpar results and tarnishing the original movie’s legacy.
However, sometimes a reboot proves so exciting it's welcomed with open arms, as is the case with the upcoming sci-fi movie Dune, based on the book by Frank Herbert. Denis Villeneuve is at the helm with a cast that includes Jason Momoa, Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem and more.
Dune’s troubled history includes David Lynch’s much-maligned interpretation which led him to withdraw his name as director, while Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version was infamously never realized. If there’s a working director who could finally do the novel justice, it’s sci-fi’s current wunderkind Villeneuve.
This got us thinking – how many sci-fi movies that just missed the mark in some way could be remade with the right director and updated for the next approaching decade. Here we speculate about the 10 sci-fi movies we’d actually love to see rebooted.
1. Hollow Man (2000)
Sci-fi director extraordinaire Paul Verhoeven is behind this lackluster flick which was actually a box office success. Critically panned, Verhoeven later remarked that he wasn’t happy with the movie and was quite depressed for a time afterwards. However, Hollow Man was an early display in special effects excellence, earning it an Oscar nomination for visual effects.
While the movie might not have withstood the test of time, its source material certainly has – it’s based on H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. Realized through many different adaptations, this Wellsian classic is due for a Hollywood update, especially when considering how far VFX has come in the last two decades.
Screenwriter and director Alex Garland, of Annihilation and Ex Machina fame, is our pick to bring this story into the future.
2. Event Horizon (1997)
Event Horizon is a cult ‘90s sci-fi movie full of diabolical action and cheesy dialogue, with strong acting talent to boot. So why reboot it? Because it had strong potential but was mired by a messy production and studio mishandling. The director, Paul W.S. Anderson—who’s behind the Resident Evil franchise—was extremely unhappy with the film, later explaining how the entire production was prematurely rushed to completion by the studio, resulting in a subpar effort in everything from shot footage, to editing, sound and special effects. The film’s ending was eventually comprised of two unused alternative endings, while scenes that were cut to appease studio heads later went missing, making the potential director’s cut Anderson wanted impossible.
So we propose Anderson pulls a Michael Haneke and remakes his own movie. After turning out one successful sci-fi blockbuster after another in the last few decades, he’s certainly up to the task. But this time with no studio meddling.
3. Village of the Damned (1995)
As with many of the films on this list Village of the Damned has strong storytelling potential, it’s simply the execution that didn’t quite work out. A remake of a 1960 film, both movies are based on writer John Wyndham’s lauded novel The Midwich Cuckoos. Censorship all but scrubbed the 1960 version of any depth, while the 1995 effort featured a half-baked script that director John Carpenter later admitted was a contractual obligation that he was “really not passionate about.”
If anyone is going to make the source material work however, it’s gonna be Jordan Peele. It fits perfectly to his supernatural/horror oeuvre and there’s plenty of room for added subtext.
4. The Running Man (1987)
You probably know The Running Man as one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s peak action hero blockbusters. It’s a Stephen King adaptation set in a dystopian future where convicted criminals are given the chance to be set free by participating in a deadly televised game show in which they’re hunted by professional killers.
What’s most relevant is that the film is set between 2017-2019. And while our reality isn’t quite the same, the film has been lauded for its many accurate predictions including society’s obsession with reality TV and how the widening gap between rich and poor would continue to manifest.
Now that we’re living in the film’s present, it’s high time The Running Man was adapted for the future yet again. And who better to comment on the way society’s headed than the Wachowskis, who would surely give us a lot to think about.
5. Maximum Overdrive (1986)
This Stephen King adaptation was actually written and directed by the acclaimed author in his first and only ever attempt behind-the-camera. Needless to say, it wasn’t great. It’s loosely based on his short story “Trucks,” which revolves around inanimate machines that come to life and turn homicidal after the Earth passes through the tail of a comet.
Full of camp and black humor, the central narrative isn’t all bad considering it’s a Stephen King story, but the author’s lack of directorial talent was a clear hindrance to the project. Or as he so eloquently explained, he was “coked out of [his] mind all through production, and [he] really didn’t know what [he] was doing.”
One director who can bring out the emotional nuances of machines is Neill Blomkamp, who’d be a shoe in for the reboot.
6. Soylent Green (1973)
Set just a few years in the future from now Soylent Green covers a lot of ground, bringing up industrialization, overpopulation, pollution, climate change, poverty, euthanasia, and resource depletion necessary for survival. Based on the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room!, its themes are very pressing for our modern age and deserve a new found examination.
After the quiet success of Claire Denis’ humanist sci-fi movie High Life, the French director would be the perfect person to undertake a modern interpretation of the classic film.
7. Sphere (1998)
Adapted from a successful Michael Crichton novel, Sphere had a lot going for it but failed to deliver, never really surpassing the sum of its parts. One director who could offer an intelligent adaptation is Jonathon Glazer, the man behind the understated sci-fi Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson. We’d love to see him team up again with composer Mica Levi for a haunting, deep-sea score.
8. Futureworld (1976)
Michael Crichton wrote and directed the original Westworld movie to both critical and audience acclaim, prompting another studio to bank on its success with the sequel Futureworld. Except nobody from the original wanted to take part, including Crichton, resulting in a movie that’s lacking in story and execution.
But consider the possibilities today – exponentially greater special effects, a much deeper understanding of A.I., and an excellent HBO remake of Westworld to draw from, throw in director Denis Villeneuve and the possibilities are limitless for Futureworld 2.0.
9. The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Advertised as a Stephen King adaptation, the final version of The Lawnmower Man bears almost no resemblance except for one common scene, prompting King to sue the studio to have his name withdrawn from its marketing. The movie hasn’t aged well, with its once groundbreaking CGI now a relic of the past. But with the present interest and growth in the virtual reality sector, it seems like the perfect time to resurrect this once cutting-edge sci-fi and see where it can go.
Our money’s on J.J. Abrams to give us the update.
10. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Yet another dystopian future, Johnny Mnemonic’s 2021 setting certainly didn’t come close to our present reality. Keanu Reeves plays a data courier who’s transporting sensitive information via a chip implanted in his brain—a whopping 320GB worth!—while dodging the Yakuza and at risk of dying from information overload (yes, really). Reeves earned a Golden Raspberry nomination for the film, while production issues hindered the movie’s credibility.
The film was made when the internet was gaining traction and considering it’s constantly developing, it could be time to revisit Johnny Mnemonic. Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is our pick for the reboot, thanks to his thoughtful and nuanced approach to both sci-fi and horror.