Life is full of do-overs and so is the world of movies. A gazillion of films has already seen the light of day since 1927 when the first-ever feature-length talking motion picture was born in America. That’s almost a century of making films in various genres ranging from romance, action, adventure, fantasy, horror, and whatnot.
Screenwriters in Hollywood seem to have exhausted all original and fresh ideas for a film. This explains why filmmakers rehash stories that have been told many times over in old movies. In fact, filmmakers recreated remakes and reboots for theatrical release not just once, twice, but multiple times. Popular reincarnations of all-time favorite motion pictures include King Kong, A Star Is Born, Annie, and The Great Gatsby.
In this day and age, we barely come across films with unique plots written from scratch. Instead, movie producers treat the movie fans with either a remake, a reboot, or if not, a sequel or even a prequel.
Film remakes and reboots are not created equal, however. Some are worse versions, while others are the far better renditions of the original titles. How so? Either these redos have a surprising twist, the main characters played by promising talented stars, or simply incredible storytelling.
Also, there are CGI special effects that have been readily available since the 2000s. Hence, the revival of the hit movies from decades ago evolved into a more visually stunning version for today’s movie aficionados.
Remake or Reboot: The Difference
Now, let’s first dig into the fine line between a remake and reboot. Basically, a remake is redoing the same movie and a faithful version of the original. But it features an all-new cast and uses newer production technology.
A reboot, on the other hand, refers to a complete reset to an older film’s continuity. Add to that, it usually refers to a franchise instead of just one movie. The best examples of rebooted franchises are Star Trek and Planet of the Apes.
We have taken a deep dive into an array of tightly-based film adaptations and the ones that are loosely based on their source materials. Great remakes don’t come pretty often and we did a rundown of the 20 best remake and reboot movies you’ll surely enjoy watching anew. So, here we go!
Most of the best-selling novels of famous author Stephen King have been adapted for the big screen including It. Not many of today’s generation, however, know that the 2017 coming-of-age supernatural horror film is a remake of a TV miniseries.
Tommy Lee Wallace’s horror drama aired on ABC in the 1990s featuring Tim Curry as Pennywise. The show is hailed as a quintessential rendition that haunted many of the 90s kids in their sleep for years.
But the film reboot has raised the bar for modern-day audiences with its disturbing take on Pennywise the killer clown. Starring Bill Skarsgaard and a bevy of young outcasts, It is a spine-chilling and compelling horror flick that will scare the hell out of you.
This remake is a massive hit at the box office with more than $700 million gross sales worldwide. It spawned a concluding follow-up titled It Chapter Two which is equally a hair-raising thriller.
Top cast: Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, and Bill Skarsgaard
Run Time: 2h 15m
IMDb score: 7.3/10
The Jungle Book (2016)
Disney has raked in billions in revenue for producing live-action remakes of its top-tier animated classics over the years. The ones that received a nod and critical acclaim are Cinderella, Aladdin, Christopher Robin, and Cruella.
The cream of them all, however, is the release of Jon Favreau-directed The Jungle Book, a rare remake that’s literally better than the original. The 2016 film adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s fascinating story is a must-see spectacle that sets a new standard for CGI in filmmaking.
The Jungle Book is as delightful as it is riveting to behold. Disney generated over $960 million in revenue and won several accolades including the prestigious Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
This remake featuring a star-studded cast also adds to the movie’s flare that wholly captivates the young and old viewers.
Top Cast: Ben Kingsley, Idris Alba, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Neel Sethi
Runtime: 1h 46min
IMDb score: 7.4/10
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Cinematic masterpiece King Kong is one of the most remade movies of all time. Since its theatrical debut in 1933, the landmark monster film has been recreated not twice, but three times over.
The fictional giant monster returned to the big screen in the 1976 remake starring Jeff Bridges. It once again hit the cinemas in Peter Jackson’s iteration in 2005. Both of these reincarnations, however, offer nothing more than the original feature, thus, quite forgettable to movie fans.
Filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts, however, gave a riveting new twist to Kong: Skull Island. The 2017 version reintroduces the viewers to a giant ape inhabiting a small, uncharted Skull Island, hence the film’s title.
Also, Vogt-Roberts connected it to the same cinematic universe as Gareth Edwards’ 2014 reboot of Toho’s Godzilla franchise. Its sequel Godzilla vs. Kong was an international box-office hit upon release in 2021 amid a pandemic.
Top cast: Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, and John C. Reilly
Runtime: 2h 0min
IMDb score: 6.6/10
And while we’re at it, Hollywood also brought back the Japanese kaiju Godzilla to the big screen for modern-day viewers in another hit monster film. This is, however, the second American version after the first one that came out in 1998.
The prehistoric sea monster became a global cultural icon following its debut in the original movie in the 50s. It’s a phenomenal success in Japanese film history, spawning a staggering 32 more films so far.
This fresher western take, however, is better by comparison. Based on critical reception, the 2014 Godzilla was well-received with a 75 percent critic score on RT. The 1998 version, meanwhile, only got a 16 percent. Nonetheless, both remakes were a financial success, grossing $529 million and $379 million in revenue respectively.
Gareth Edwards also managed to carve out a monsterverse starting off with the release of the 2019 sequel Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It concluded with the 2021 crossover feature Godzilla vs. Kong.
Top Cast: Brian Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn
Runtime: 2h 3min
IMDb score: 6.4/10
Cape Fear (1991)
Martin Scorsese became a household name in constantly making high-caliber movies since his very first film in 1968. Throughout his career, he has shown a knack for crime dramas which usually center on the facets of the Italian-American mobs. It isn’t the case, however, for the 1991 psychological thriller Cape Fear.
This feature film is a remake of the 1962 adaptation based on John D. MacDonald’s novel The Executioners. It also marked another notable collaboration between Scorsese and his long-time muse, Robert De Niro.
The story focuses on Max Cady who served 14 years in jail for rape. After his release, he seeks vengeance against his defense lawyer who concealed evidence that would have cleared him of the charges.
Both films make magnificent and stylish thrillers with remarkable performances. Scorsese made an impactful version, however, with its powerful storytelling and stunning visuals plus the opening credits. De Niro also delivered a gravely disturbing portrayal as Cady, to say the least.
Top Cast: Robert De Niro, Juliette Lewis, Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Joe Don Baker, and Illeana Douglas
Runtime: 2h 8min
IMDb score: 7.3/10
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman is undeniably one of the most coveted franchises to reboot because of its large fan base. The DC Comics superhero has spanned a generation since 1966 after his first appearance on the big screen.
We have then seen the 80s, 90s, and 2000s versions of Batman on different levels. Let’s not also forget Matt Reeve’s upcoming take on the caped crusader featuring Robert Pattinson to portray the titular role. The latest reboot is still scheduled to arrive on March 4.
Of all the reboots, the best reincarnations so far are that of Christopher Nolan’s (and many fans will agree.) Nolan picked up the franchise that was in limbo for five years after the release of the last the 90s Batman film.
Batman Begins offers a more stylish, grittier, and darker take than the 90s iteration and more realistic compared to the 80s counterpart. The 2005 reboot saw tremendous critical and financial success, spawning two more sequels that comprised Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.
Top Cast: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, and Michael Kane
Runtime: 2h 20min
IMDb Score: 8.2/10
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
Any filmmaker always aims at creating a remake or a reboot that is an improved version of the original. And certainly, Steven Soderbergh did so with his hit classic heist film Ocean’s Eleven.
The 2001 crime-comedy flick is a slick and fresh take of Lewis Milestone’s 1960 movie Ocean’s 11. Like the original film that features the legendary Rat Pack, this remake boasts a star-studded cast.
Soderbergh pushed all the right buttons with brilliant editing and exhilarating plot twists. This movie also takes the viewers to a more fascinating and convoluted modern-day Las Vegas.
Instead of simply replicating the original, this remake is reinvented to make it relevant to the audience. Although its predecessor focuses on greed, this stylish update centers on passion dashed with romance and comedy, making it enjoyable and entertaining.
While Ocean’s Eleven also has its flaws, it’s acclaimed as Hollywood’s best heist film of the 21st century. Expectedly, this classic turned into a franchise with two more follow-ups and a spin-off featuring all-female heist shenanigans.
Top Cast: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Casey Affleck, Al Pacino, and Don Cheadle
Runtime: 1h 56min
IMDb Score: 7.7/10
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
The 1968 motion picture Planet of the Apes was a blockbuster that began a movie franchise, releasing three more sequels in the 70s. It saw a tremendous critical and financial success that inspired two remakes, one in 2001 and the other in 2011.
Directed by revered filmmaker Tim Burton, the 2001 version offers quite a simple and clear-cut remake. Although it’s not all that bad, this rendition is not as interesting enough with its similar plotline to that of the original film. It however presents a different take on Captain Leo Davidson portrayed by Mark Wahlberg compared to one from its predecessor.
It took more than a decade before Rupert Wyatt’s reboot of the film series arrived in 2011. He risked doing a whole new take on the story in the Rise of the Planet of Apes. Wyatt’s version centers on the origins of the Planet of the Apes universe, narrating the uprising of the primates against humanity.
The 2011 reboot spawned two more follow-ups and overall, the trilogy grossed more than US$2 billion worldwide against an aggregate budget of $567.5 million.
Top Cast: Andy Serkis, James Franco, Frieda Pinto, Tom Felton, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, and David Oyelowo.
Runtime: 1h 45min
IMDb score: 7.5/10
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
If you’re a fan of something Western featuring some gun-slinging cowboys, 3:10 to Yuma won’t certainly disappoint. The original film reincarnated on the big screen after 50 long years in its 2007 remake movie of the same name.
This classic rendition offers a good-humored take and contemporary adaptation of its original counterpart. The old and new versions, however, remain faithful to the film’s plot. Both flicks follow a broke ranch owner who volunteered to take the captured outlaw to the train station. He is bound to board the train leaving for Yuma at 3:10 (hence the film’s title).
This James Mangold piece, however, beat its predecessor with exceptional performances and better cinematography. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are equally brilliant as lead actors. But Ben Foster is unforgettable in a supporting role as Charlie Prince, Crowe’s henchman.
Top Cast: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Logan Lerman, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Alan Tudyk, Vinessa Shaw, and Logan Lerman
Runtime: 2h 2min
IMDb score: 7.7/10
True Grit (2010)
The Coen Brothers Joel and Ethan proved the movie pundits wrong that a remake of a John Wayne movie can’t be better than the original. Their version of True Grit is acclaimed to be quite superior to the original release in 1969.
The 2010 reimagining of the classic western drama offers remarkable elements of the genre that sets it apart from the old version. It perfectly blends a gunslinging theme, grim humor, and clever lines to prevail over its predecessor.
Coen Brothers’ favorite actor Jeff Bridges assumed the role of Rooster Cogburn, the film’s main character previously played by Wayne. The one-eyed and trigger-happy lawman accepted a job offer from a fearless, impudent teenage farm girl to hunt down the man who’s responsible for her father’s death.
Overall, the 2010 release of True Grit tells a heart-warming story about justice. It is definitely worth watching, especially with the believable performances of Bridges and Hailee Stanfield in her acting debut.
Top cast: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Stanfield, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and Domhnall Gleeson.
Runtime: 1h 50min
IMDb score: 7.6/10
Casino Royale (2006)
There have been 26 James Bond movies made to date since the first one came out in 1962. Nine different actors assumed the role of the titular British super-spy over the last six decades.
Sean Connery and Roger Moore went down in history as the best Agent 007 fans have seen on the big screen. Daniel Craig filled such large shoes as he started to put on the tuxedo for the first time in the 2006 remake of Casino Royale. But he inarguably did an excellent job to win the hearts of the long-time fans of the Bond franchise.
Adapted from Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, the 2006 remake’s core plot is mainly the same as the original release. But Director Martin Campbell took it up a notch to create impressively stunning cinematography, making it a better version.
The film also brought to the fore a grittier, realistic, and relatable take on Bond’s character. Craig did his final stint as James Bond in No Time to Die, the explosive conclusion to the film series.
Top Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, and Simon Abkarian
Runtime: 2h 24min
IMDb Score: 8.0/10
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder captivated many fans with 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel. But before all that, he did the Dawn of the Dead reboot in 2004. It soon became one of the best zombie movies ever made decades after the first zombie film came out in 1932.
Snyder rebooted George A. Romero’s 1978 original of the same name, a follow-up of the latter’s 1968 horror movie Night of the Living Dead. This new version technically offers a smoother and more seamless take and better acting performances compared to its predecessor.
Add to that, the film highlights the stories of the human survivors of the zombie apocalypse that set itself apart from the first one. The esteemed director, however, did a similar take on the undead by featuring running zombies just like in the old version.
Nonetheless, Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is a great horror flick that you can add to your staple of classic zombie movies to watch.
Top Cast: Sarah Polley, Vhing Rhames, Jake Weber, Ken Foree, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth, and Michael Barry
Runtime: 1h 40min
IMDb score: 7.3/10
The Departed (2006)
It might surprise many Martin Scorsese fans that the acclaimed gangster film The Departed isn’t original as they thought. It’s actually a remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs which came out in 2002.
However, Scorsese created an epic version that scored an Academy Award for Best Picture. This remake also won the auteur director his very first Oscar trophy for Best Director.
The 2006 epic crime thriller film is loosely based on the real-life Irish-American mob boss Whitey Bulger. The story revolves around Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang terrorizing Boston for quite a long time.
Starring the unbeatable powerhouse cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, this American rendition appealed to English-speaking audiences. And just like any Scorsese-crafted film, The Departed is nothing short of magnificent.
Top Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin
Runtime: 2h 31min
IMDb score: 8.5/10
Comic book fans first laid eyes on Judge Dredd in the late 70s. It took nearly two decades before the poker-faced, no-nonsense anti-hero from a dystopian world made it to the big screen.
The 1995 original movie adaptation starred the then-sensational Hollywood action star Sylvester Stallone in the titular role opposite Diane Lane. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as great as the comic book version and received a dismal 22% Rotten Tomatoes critic score.
But filmmaker Pete Travis brought the comic book character back to life and on the silver screen in 2012. Travis’ reboot titled Dredd stars Karl Urban as the main protagonist along with Lena Headey.
Compared to the 1995 counterpart, this new adaptation of the comic material did some justice to the character. It’s way better than the original that it received a very satisfactory critic score from movie pundits.
Dredd 2012 is a sci-fi action piece that makes an excellent choice if you’re into some apocalyptic future movies.
Top Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Langley Kirkwood, Junior Singo, Luke Tyler, and Jason Cope
Runtime: 1h 35min
IMDb score: 7.1/10
Evil Dead (2013)
The thought of producing a remake of a classic or even a cult film already entails a huge risk. Filmmakers must be able to keep the essence of the original while adding fresh ideas and surprising twists to the redux.
And there’s one who successfully did all that: Fede Alvarez. He was able to beautifully and impressively craft a gruesome and disturbing 2013 remake of Evil Dead.
Similar to the original, the new film’s story remains faithful to the source material. It follows a bevy of friends trekking to a cabin in the woods. Less they know that this adventure will turn into their worst nightmare. They accidentally awaken a race of demons that unleash hell upon them and kill them all.
Alvarez’s rendition, however, is more mature sans the goofiness of the original. Jane Levy also delivered an impeccable performance in what appears to be her best role yet.
Top Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore
Runtime: 1h 31min
IMDb score: 6.5/10
Halloween may be one of the few titles that received not just one but a total of 13 film reboots to date. These films have a common denominator: Michael Myers. They all tell the story of perhaps one of the most infamous movie villains ever known to “cinemaholics.”
Not all 13 versions are said to be of the same quality as John Carpenter’s original. Unquestionably, however, Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot bested the first eponymous slasher film which debuted in 1978.
Zombie’s recreation also centers on Michael Myers as a disturbed patient who breaks out of the asylum and starts killing people. But he added some novelty to it so as to keep the audiences on their toes. For example, it unravels the meaning behind the killer’s mask, his motives, and so on.
The 2007 Halloween reboot saw a successful release that spawned a sequel in 2009. Unfortunately, it failed to impress the critics and fans alike, garnering a meager 22% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Top Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, and William Forsythe
Runtime 1h 49min
IMDb score: 6.0/10
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The 1960 western classic piece Magnificent Seven is one of those classic films that are mistaken for an original concept. But it’s truly a rendition of acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese movie Seven Samurai.
The two films are strikingly similar, but they differ in terms of setting and spoken language. The American version featured six guns instead of samurai swords as the weapons used in it.
Director John Sturges remade Kurosawa’s film beautifully and more relatable to appeal to the English-speaking audiences of the Western genre. It also adds more flavor for the fans by casting the Hollywood icon and legendary actor Steve McQueen.
This spaghetti western classic is unquestionably a superb remake that inspired Antoine Fuqua to do an eponymous remake in 2016. The newest version features Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, et al.
Top Cast: Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, and Horst Buchholz
Runtime: 2h 8min
The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy is one of the few remakes that took a risk to depart from its predecessor. It showed a fresh take on 1932 original while staying true to the source material.
This redux combines elements of Egyptian mythology, gunslinging action, comedy, and horror well enough to delight the 90s moviegoers. Brendan Fraser stars in the lead role which they say is the best one in his acting career.
Directed by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy was a box-office blockbuster grossing more than $400 million in revenue worldwide. Impressively, this remake saw an enormous commercial success that spawned two more sequels. Both follow-ups also made more than $400 million gross sales each.
In 2017, Universal rebooted The Mummy franchise that would have supposedly started a new shared universe. The reboot, however, received a terribly low critic score and didn’t meet box-office expectations to get a sequel.
Top Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, and Kevin O’Connor.
Runtime: 2h 4min
IMDb score: 7.1/10
The Thing (1982)
Renowned mostly for horror film works, John Carpenter did another film remake following the successful release of Halloween. This version of 1951’s The Thing from Another World initially received negative reviews from critics.
But in the years that follow, it was reappraised and acclaimed as one of the best horror film remakes ever made. Simply titled The Thing, the 1982 remake boasts excellent special effects that keep the audiences at the edge of their seats.
Carpenter’s craft in skillfully utilizing an invisible alien threat gives viewers those chills in the spine. Having been able to gain a massive cult following, this horror flick even spawned an eponymous video game, a prequel, and others.
Top Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, and Peter Maloney
Runtime: 1h 49min
IMDb score: 8.2/10
So, the last but definitely not the least on our list of best film remakes of all time is the 2002 psychological thriller Insomnia. Starring Robin Williams and Al Pacino, it’s the American version of the 1997 Norwegian movie of the same name featuring Stellan Skarsgard.
Both of these films basically tell the same story of an LAPD homicide detective who is suffering from insomnia. He is sent to Alaska where the sun doesn’t set in the summer to investigate a murder of a teenage girl.
This cat-and-mouse thriller takes an interesting turn when the sleep-deprived officer commits a blunder grave mistake that the killer he’s after has witnessed.
Christopher Nolan’s take is equally great as its Norwegian counterpart. However, it’s deemed to be better in terms of building the suspense and its Alaskan setting.
The film received a nod from critics including Pacino’s incredible acting. Williams who rose to fame as a comedian also delivered a flawless, serious performance as the villain.
Top Cast: Al Pacino Robin Williams Hilary Swank Maura Tierney Martin Donovan Nicky Katt, and Paul Dooley
Runtime: 1h 58min
IMDb score: 7.2/10
There you have our 20 best film remakes and reboots of all time that hit the silver screen since time immemorial. But don’t simply take our word for it. It’s time to hog that couch and check them out for yourself. Enjoy watching!